Natural Disasters (1980 - 1982)

Photo: Rob White Photo: Patrick Keiller
Photo: Simon Edmondson Photo: Simon Edmondson
Photo: Simon Edmondson photo: Simon Edmondson
photo: Rob White

The first major production by Station House Opera explored 'new ways of flying' - how flight and spatial freedom can be evoked in the imagination, while embracing the force of gravity as it applies to the performer. The performance space appeared to respond to the states of mind of the protagonists, whisking performers up through the ceiling or collapsing around them as the emotional drama demanded. Props and people suspended in the air pushed the dramatic medium into 3-dimensional space.

Co-produced by Stichting Mickery Workshop, Amsterdam

Excerpt from Artscribe review
The piece was visceral and bawdy, crowded with strange, unexpected incidents. The setting is a hotel or boarding house under threat of destruction from a volcano. Though the volcano is mentioned in the notes to the piece we are not aware of its presence in any direct way during the performance. What we are aware of is some outside force disrupting and possessing the residents.

Under this enforced isolation communication and sociability breaks down. Jealousies erupt, passions are inflamed. People squeal and scream, retch and shout orders, lay on the floor, perform disoriented, repetitive actions. Gestures were never followed through to their natural conclusion: punches were thrown but always pulled, a drink was passed on rather than drunk. Dream and allegory, Natural Disasters explored the worlds of dementia and impotence, showing us what happens when a group of people are placed together in a situation of stress.

One could be forgiven for thinking that this siege drama was an arty downbeat version of The Towering Inferno or a surrealist guide to Civil Defence - in the event of a nuclear attack count to ten and flap your arms. But humour (and it was very funny, a very black kind of humour) was always subordinate to the rigorous structure of the work.

John Roberts
Artscribe

 

Bibliography

Review: Natural Disasters
01 Jan 1980
Published in Artscribe No 28

Review: Natural Disasters
01 Oct 1981
Published in Performance Magazine No 15

Review: Natural Disasters
23 Jan 1982
Published in Der Volkskrant

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Bibliography