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Jane Taylor

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Tonight at GIPCA: “After After Cardenio

If you can join us at GIPCA tonight, I would be so pleased. I am talking about early modern medical science and philosophy and the play I made for Greenblatt. It would be my last public talk in the city, I guess. It is in the Anatomy theatre on Hiddingh campus, at 5 for 5.30. Please tell friend and colleagues. Drinks and snacks to follow!

Steve Kretzmann Reviews After Cardenio

Steve Kretzmann reviews After Cardenio in the West Cape News:

Academia has its gateways, its increasingly rarefied rings of knowledge and power the keys to which are handed over with ceremony to those who crack the nod.

After Cardenio is similarly layered and how deeply you are able to penetrate it depends on your grasp of theatre and literature, both historical and contemporary.

However – and I don’t claim to have penetrated anywhere near the inner sanctum of this piece – After Cardenio is not exclusive. The view of ivy-clad masonry from the outside can be as pleasing to the inquisitive first-year undergraduate as the Dean’s view from inside their elevated office – one does not have to be an experienced or learned theatregoer to walk away satisfied.

After Cardenio Premières at UCT’s Anatomy Theatre

After Cardenio will show at the Anatomy Theatre on UCT‘s Hiddingh campus from 25 August to 2 September, with previews on 23 and 24 August at 8 PM.

Event details

Press release:

Jane Taylor, in association with the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA), presents the premiere of After Cardenio at the newly renovated Anatomy Theatre on the top floor of the Old Medical Building on Hiddingh campus, UCT. Previews are on 23 and 24 August, and the run is from 25 August – 2 September at 20:00.

It is 1650. England is in the grip of a bloody Civil War, and theological dispute rampages across the countryside. In this context of radical upheaval, the new sciences are emerging. It is the year in which the philosopher Descartes dies in Sweden. In Oxford, a young woman, Anne Greene, is hanged for killing her infant. Her body is prepared for dissection for an anatomy in the presence of several surgeons and scholars.

After Cardenio is a new work of experimental theatre, written and directed by Jane Taylor, based upon the true account of Anne Greene, as taken from the historical archive. It is a combination of sculptural puppetry, live performance, sound and visual art.

The Renaissance scholar Stephen Greenblatt, from Harvard University, has commissioned several theatre-makers/writers to make new works with ‘Cardenio’ as a hypothetical point of origin, in order to consider what Shakespeare may have reworked from Cervantes’ romantic hero. This work, After Cardenio arises from such an invitation by Greenblatt to Taylor. After Cardenio is written and directed by Taylor in collaboration with Aja Marneweck and the Paper Body Collective, sculptural puppet design and construction by Gavin Younge, with music composition and sound design by Julia Raynham. Video and visual elements are made by collaborating artist Penny Siopis It is presented in association with GIPCA.

The work is a meditation on the late works of William Shakespeare, whose play The History of Cardenio has disappeared with no extant copy of the original text. The so-called “missing Shakespeare play” was registered in 1653 (shortly after the episode with Anne Greene) by the publisher and bookseller, Humphrey Moseley, who declared that it was by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, Shakespeare’s collaborator on several of his late works. Moseley’s credibility has been questioned, because of his commercial interest in the matter, but there is no question that a play titled The History of Cardenio was performed in London in 1613 by The King’s Men. Little is known about the play, except that it is presumed that the work is named after Cardenio, a character in Cervantes’ great novel, Don Quixote.

“After Cardenio is a tribute to the two giant figures, Shakespeare and Cervantes, who dominate the traditions of Western literature (both the theatre and the book),” said Taylor. “It explores the imaginative worlds of these writers, and their perennial themes of heroism, brutality, sexual infidelity, political intrigue, and the fragile beauty of hope. The play also considers the situation of the women who are at the centre of the work of these two writers,” she added.

Cervantes and Shakespeare, through a curious quirk of history, died on the same date, though not on the same day. Because Spain and England were on different calendars in 1616, Cervantes died some ten days before Shakespeare, but both men are recorded as having died on the same date, 23 April 1616. That extraordinary accident itself is memorialized in this new production.
Tickets for After Cardenio cost R80 and will be available on Computicket.

From 3 – 5 September the show becomes part of the Out the Box Festival in Cape Town. It will be in the same venue, (The Anatomy Theatre) but the times will fit in with the schedule of the Festival. PLEASE NOTE: the Festival performance times: 3 September (Saturday) at 14:00; 4 September (Sunday) at 14:00 and 5 September (Monday) at 21:00. Please note that unfortunately this venue is not wheelchair friendly for which we apologise.

Ends

After Cardenio

Press Release With Image

Kentridge for Beginners

William Kentridge’s current production of The Nose at the New York Metropolitan Opera is an exploration of the operatic form itself. In 1827 Wagner posited that opera had degenerated into a conglomeration of bravura effects with hyperbolic set design and vocal exhibitionism. His call was for a return to the integrated experience that he termed a gesamtkunstwerk, in which aural, visual and performance idioms contribute to a dynamic whole. Clearly Kentridge’s The Nose draws on many talents within digital arts, acting, costume, and music. Yet in ways the primary collaboration is that between Kentridge and Shostakovich.

Shostakovich died in 1975. In what sense, then, is this a collaboration, not simply an interpretation? The structure of “inter-generational dialogue” with the dead recapitulates Shostakovich’s own creative processes because his work is an interpretation of the short story, “The Nose”, by Nikolai Gogol, who had died in 1852.

Why, given the success of his The Magic Flute, was Kentridge attracted to this bizarre work of Shostakovich’s youthful exuberance, rather than one of the classics of the standard opera repertoire? Perhaps there is real interpretive potential for the director in the precocious performance text, such works as are conceived by a young imagination not yet constrained by generic containment and conventional thinking. Remember, Kentridge has had a substantial history of engagement with Ubu Roi, a work of juvenilia written when Jarry was a schoolboy.

Experimental novelty within Shostakovich’s creative processes means that The Nose is a work that does not fully know what may or may not be done on stage. The director thus has considerable freedom to make a piece that is theatrically anarchic while still paying homage to its ancestors. It is radical and conservative in the strongest terms.

The Nose, then, provides Kentridge with an instrument through which he can integrate some of the tensions implicit in his works over the past two decades. Kentridge has engaged in a visual exploration of the “split self” through an iconography of doubled identity, from the early ‘Soho Eckstein’ films to recent experiments with technologies such as the stereoscope. Gogol’s bizarre tale, on which the opera is based, recounts the adventures of a state bureaucrat, Kovalyov, who wakes to discover that his nose has absconded and is wandering downtown, seducing his girlfriends, wearing his medals, and beguiling his enemies. This rupture suggests the unease of a self ill at ease with its identity.

In Shostakovich’s libretto the character of the Nose has a limited role; however Kentridge (through visual projections) makes the Nose into a more or less ever-present figure of tyranny. He is the emblem of what Foucault termed “capillary power.” ‘Power’ is irresistible precisely because dispersed across voluntary agents who collude against the freedom and humanity of ordinary citizens. Those implicated in the service of power do so out of fear of reprisal, anticipation of egregious reward, and addiction to preferment.

While exploring Soviet arts, Kentridge’s production analyses the collusive seductions of self-promotion which have become so defining of late capitalism.

This article first appeared in the 26 March print edition of the Mail & Guardian

An Olive Branch

Here is the full text of the speech I gave when accepting the Oliver Schreiner Award for my novel Of Wild Dogs:

I am so very pleased, through this prize, to be associated with Olive Schreiner, and would like to thank the committee for considering a detective novel for this prestigious literary award. I have in the past weeks been trying to imagine why detective fiction would have mattered to Olive Schreiner. » read more

This is Jane’s Space – You’re Welcome to Enter

Greetings all and welcome to Jane’s space – not MySpace but my space – on BOOK SA. I’ve been very kindly introduced before in these virtual pages – when BOOK SA editor Ben Williams posted a short piece on the news of my novel’s winning the Olive Schreiner Prize earlier this year.

» read more