THE ANIMALS & CHILDREN TOOK TO THE STREETS
22/08/2013 - 23/08/2013
08/03/2012 - 11/03/2012
29/08/2013 - 01/09/2013
“Macabre, musically ingenious and graphically glorious… anyone interested in the theatre should see this company now.” The Observer (UK)
Award-winning theatre company 1927 fuses live music, performance, film and stunning animation to create unique, otherworldly productions.
Creepy kids run riot and creatures of darkness rule in their new Festival offering, The Animals & Children Took to the Streets. Looking like a giant graphic novel brought to life, this multi-media production invites the audience into a shadowy inner-city metropolis.
Welcome to the Bayou, a part of the city that is feared and loathed, and the Bayou Mansions, where the wolf is always at the door. When Agnes Eaves and her daughter appear late one night, does it signal hope in this hopeless place, or has the real horror only just begun?
The Scotsman praised the company’s “technically brilliant use of live action and music combined with superbly drawn and animated film backgrounds, to create shows that combine vintage cultural nostalgia with a sharp, beady-eyed sense of postmodern alienation”.
1927’s first-ever work, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, was equally entrancing. A smash hit, it went on to tour the world, including the 2010 New Zealand International Arts Festival. The Animals & Children Took to the Streets is the company’s second production and has already garnered critical acclaim and cemented their reputation for magic, filmic theatre.
Formed in 2005, 1927’s founders come from diverse performance backgrounds, including animation, film making, music and physical theatre. They specialise in combining these skills to tell stories in new ways. The company works to reinvent old idioms: silent film, music hall song, fairy tales and cabaret, to tell stories about contemporary issues for a modern audience.
The Animals & Children Took to the Streets
8 to 11 March 2012
Tickets $53 – $63 available from Ticketek.
TARANAKI ARTS FESTIVAL 2013
Thurs 22 Aug, 8pm
Fri 23 Aug, 8pm
Sat 24 Aug, 1pm – APOLOGIES DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND THE FESTIVAL’S CONTROL THIS PERFORMANCE HAS BEEN CANCELLED, please email email@example.com if you have tickets to this performance.
Theatre Royal, TSB Showplace
70 minutes no interval
ADMISSION service fees apply
Premium Friend $35
A Reserve $35
CHRISTCHURCH ARTS FESTIVAL 2013
THU 29 – SAT 31 AUG, 6.30PM
SUN 1 SEP, 3.00PM
RUDOLF STEINER SCHOOL HALL
GENERAL ADMISSION $30
STUDENT (WITH ID) $20
Service Fee Applies
Doors open 20 minutes before showtime
1 hr 20 mins, no interval
Review by Sharu Delilkan 03rd Sep 2013
Stuffed into the Rudolf Steiner School building foyer, the children’s artwork and pictures on the walls mirrored what we had seen on the fences around the barren lots of Christchurch buildings that no longer were. And we were greeted by the most enthusiastic festival volunteer ever – she had seen the show and seemed fit to burst with the knowledge that we were going to share in her experience – what a great start.
The Animals and Children Took to the Streets opens with a Jetsons-like backdrop of a 1960s vision of future-opolis, but all the gritty action takes place in the arse-end of town, centered around Redherring St – a hot-bed of thieves, hookers, poverty, despair, where the only creatures that thrive are cockroaches and rodents of both the human and animal kind. [More]
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Distracted by its own inter-media brilliance
Review by Elizabeth O’Connor 29th Aug 2013
Extraordinary projector-screened backgrounds of windows, walls, constant cockroaches crawling and children rioting, etc, frame three articulate actors, telling a dark tale. The interaction of live actors with screened image is superlative, and is the main achievement of this production.
Agnes and her daughter Evie arrive in the Bayou Mansions, where Agnes hopes to make the lives of deprived children better through art. The area is described as degenerate. Evie is kidnapped. The poor Caretaker, who has just made enough money to buy a ticket out, chooses to spend the money to rescue her. End of story, really.
This is not a protagonist-driven story, nor is there a clear social message. The audience are expected to tilt themselves on a lot of social angles, regarding tenements, adult attitudes to children, fear, crime, prejudice, etc., without much foundation being laid.
The performers (Sue Appleby, Eleanor Buchan and Lewis Barfoot) are extremely accomplished, and their various appearances and voices delight the audience with their precision, humour and musical panache.
The piece is not serious social commentary, being distracted by its own inter-media brilliance, but if viewed by young people (it’s recommended for 10+) could be a great stimulus for talk and learning.
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Post-modern, classical, alternative, filmic, macabre, joyful, exciting!
Review by Holly Shanahan 23rd Aug 2013
As if emerging from a strangely enjoyable bad trip, or some mad enthralling dream that lingers with you long after, I am still awash with how exactly to describe 1927’s new show. The Animals and Children Took to the Streets is a genre-mashing, mind-bending hypnotic parable of exquisite live performance, storytelling, music and animation.
Like some larger-than-life silent-film-meets-graphic-novel, the show is a great example of cross platform artistry. There are hints of Tim Burton, French animated film, Marvel comics, Fritz Lang, Brechtian musical, Brother’s Grimm, German expressionism and French clowning, with incredible interactive animation and a live score that plays out like some unsettling children’s music box left open.
The story itself is a fun and relevant fable of the futility of revolution; of the quashing of the ‘people’s voice’ and systems of control implemented by leaders and governments. It is irresistible not to be caught up in the magic of this work, on all levels.
Through song and lush imagery we are introduced to the residents and children of a “stinking sprawling boarding house on Red Herring Street”. This tenement block in the Bayou seethes (almost beautifully at times) with cockroaches, where “the ghost of the feast” looms and even “the sinks have scabies”.
We meet the archetypes of the ghetto: the lonely Caretaker, the visiting optimistic love interest, the Shopkeeper and her revolutionary daughter, and the pessimistic grimy neighbours, griping and spying constantly from their windows.
These are the big city slums, where the degenerates, criminals, peeping toms and salubrious characters lurk, while elsewhere big moneyed men make the big bucks and turn a blind eye to all that goes on here. However, this is not only a place full of evil and danger, but poverty and those who struggle to overcome it.
It is a keen and accessible social critique on the divide between rich and poor, and the often futile attempts of those at the bottom to get up and get out. There is no ideal ending for the residents of the Bayou (as the audience cleverly discovers) and, as Agnes, our romantic ‘heroine’ points out, “What can one person really do?” The Junkshop owner and residents constantly remind us, if you are “born in the Bayou, you die in the Bayou.”
We are led through this story by an earnest narrator in dulcet lullaby tones, at times like Roald Dahl’s revolting rhymes as read by Susan Sarandon.
Written and directed by one of the original performers, Suzanne Andrade, and animated and designed by Paul Barritt, 1927 are a collective of four artists from different modalities. As mentioned in the program notes, “the complete integration of these [skills] has paved the way for the company to create its innovative and original work.” Sometimes I find program notes can be self-inflating, but this one is right on the money. The company integrates media, genre and form seamlessly and with great style.
The visual imagery and animation is breath-taking. The small details are finely nuanced and cleverly realised, always throwing in surprises and gorgeous simple moments amongst the rich picture and environments. Some moments will live on in your dreams and memory: the caretaker dreaming of his escape, the break in and escape from the asylum, the ‘villainess’ riding the mare’s cat … There are too many to mention.
The three female performers interact and perform with the animated ‘sets’ and residents of the Bayou with absolute precision. The characters are beautifully pitched, in white face melodrama/expressionist style, and the demands of the performance are executed exquisitely. It is hypnotic. Not a foot is out of place in this show.
All of this with only three screens, three ‘windows’, three performers, a piano and a few oversized props and music making objects on stage. The projected lighting and animation gives the show all the rest it needs, and more.
The program stipulates 11yrs +, and I would encourage everyone to take their teenagers to see what theatre and multi-media performance can do; my partner and I took his 11yr old daughter and she loved it. (Tip, give them the gumdrops distributed at the top of the show.)
This show has something for everyone, it opens up to an audience who may not necessarily enjoy the traditional ‘play’, but has enough theatre craft to appeal to even the most old-school theatregoer. It is post-modern, classical, alternative, filmic, macabre and joyful. It is one of the most exciting things I have seen in a long time. Go see it, seriously, and be swept up in modern theatre magic.
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Graphic novel comes to life on stage
Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 10th Mar 2012
This show by 1927 Company is a brilliant piece of alternative theatre combining with imagination and perfect timing funny, creepy cartoon projections onto three screens with four actors playing the inhabitants of a notorious tenement block that you could find in any city in the modern world. It is, as the director has said, a graphic novel come to life.
The Bayou Mansions onRed Herring Streetare “the thorn in the city”, “the ghost at the feast” and they are deliberately hidden from the Mayor’s office high up in a glass tower where he sits stroking his cat. The inhabitants of the Mansions have no room to swing a rat let alone a cat and everyone finds it hard to keep the wolf from the door.
Strange people live in the mansions: a man who slits the seats of ladies’ bicycles and a 21 year-old grandmother. They are watched over by disapproving neighbours and a lonely caretaker who writes when he’s not sweeping the floors and poisoning cockroaches.
The caretaker wants to escape but Agnes, a nice middle-class do-gooder, and her young daughter try to help the hordes of children who live in the Mansions by providing art classes. The classes are soon wrecked by the children who are being organised into a gang of pirates by Zelda, who sings, appropriately, a Kurt Weill-like song called Zelda’s Call to Arms.
Agnes’s daughter is kidnapped and the caretaker comes to the rescue, but don’t expect a Dickensian ending, despite the top-hatted men walking through the streets, for the dry, sardonic humour that runs like a seam of comic gold through this eighty minute show allows for a “crossroads” ending: realistic or idealistic? The audience is given a Putin-like choice.
There is no moralising but you get the message: social problems need time, money and clear thinking before anything will be solved, despite the quick and easy solution of gum drops made by a deliciously sinister Grandma. It is very funny and on opening night the audience, including many school students, roared and stamped their approval. Thoroughly recommended.
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Darker themes explored through cheeky, macabre humour
Review by Helen Sims 09th Mar 2012
1927’s mix of live action and animation was extremely popular when its last show, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea played in the 2010 Festival Club. Back for this Festival with a new show, The Animals and Children Took to the Streets, the group’s popularity has been recognised by programming the show in a much larger venue.
On opening night a large contingent of high school students was in attendance. The group’s blend of live music, art deco graphic novel aesthetic and wicked humour entertained both young and old – although this is no fairytale for children.
The story is set in the Bayou, the seedy part of an otherwise affluent city and focuses on the inhabitants of the Bayou Mansions, a decrepit boarding house onRed Herring Street. Life in the Bayou Mansions is tough and cheerless, and the wolf is always at the door. At night gangs of children rule the streets. Most of the city’s officials and residents are content to ignore the Bayou so long as its problems are confined toRed Herring Street.
An exception is the idealistic Agnes Eaves, who moves to the Bayou Mansions to save the children, with her charming daughter Evie Eaves in tow. Agnes captures the heart of the melancholy caretaker, who has been toiling for seven years to save enough money for a one way ticket out of the Bayou. Agnes believes that all the children of the Bayou needs is an avenue for artistic expression. Her preferred mode of expression is pasta collages.
Unsurprisingly, the children of the Bayou trash Agnes’ art club. Led by Zelda, a feisty girl dressed as a pirate, the children spill out of the Bayou and into the parks and streets of the city. The children’s chant of “we want what you have” eerily echoes theUKriots and the claims of the Occupy movement.
After Zelda and her cohorts kidnap the mayors beloved cat and media hysteria intensifies, a sinister solution is devised that may force the children to accept the adage of their parents: “Born in the Bayou, Die in the Bayou too”. Inevitably, little Eavie Eaves gets swept up in the city’s plan for the children of the Bayou, and her mother and the caretaker must race against time to save her.
The story is told through a mix of live action performance, narration, animation and music, some of which is played live by performer Lillian Henly. Some of the characters are animated, including Eavie Eaves. This means the live actors, Suzanne Andrade and Esme Appleton, have to interact with the animation, which is shown on three screens. All of the performers do this with skill, demonstrating the real possibilities visual design offers for theatre when it is fully integrated into a production.
The aesthetic of the film, animation and design by Paul Barritt is beautiful and evokes the mood of the Bayou and its inhabitants perfectly. The speed with which the performers change character is also admirable – up until the very end I was convinced there were four performers on stage rather than three!
Ultimately, the play refuses to indulge our predilection for idealistic endings. Although the overall tone of The Animals and Children Took to the Streets is one of cheeky and macabre humour, ultimately this makes it an excellent vehicle for the exploration of darker, more serious themes.
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