Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Marta Górnicka - Magnificat - Chór Korbiet - Nottingham Playhouse - review

Chór Korbiet / The Chorus of Women/Magnificat.

A production of the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw

To quote the programme: “The Chorus of Women is a modern form of choral theatre. The libretto for the performance is a collage of cultural texts: the chorus mixes fragments of Antigone and works by the likes of Agamben, Barthes, Jelinek and Butler with colloquial speech, advertising slogans, recipes, computer sounds, film quotes and fairy tales.

A modern tragic chorus is composed of women of various professions and various ages. It undermines linguistic clichés and reveals the language in its ideological dimension: it speaks with the words of excluded texts.

The modern drama broke up the chorus, thus depriving itself of a certain dimension of the tragic. We must restore the chorus to the stage and find new forms of its theatrical presence; we have to restore women to the chorus. The chorus of women will shout, whisper and sing. It will treat words as music. It will change language into voice, it will initiate its subversive force.” Marta Górnicka.

In creating the work the chorus have researched and devised from three main subjects, memory, voice and gender. In memory they recall Polish songs, forgotten drama texts as well as songs from ancient dramas. In voice they searched for a sound or collection of sounds that are detached from the language such as in rhythms, echolalia or in a drone.

In the piece there are frequent uses of various forms of echolalia ( the meaningless repetition of another person's spoken words) and they formed a very powerful sound in chorus to the point where the sound appeared to be rippling in the air.

In gender they try to regain/create a woman's voice in culture and thus in The Chorus of Women/Magnificat we get a thrilling mix of whispering, keening, deliberately overdone sounds, song in unison, song lines from individuals, humour, swaying body rhythms whilst singing, a superbly sung (mainly in the very expressive Polish language) and wonderfully conducted piece. There are surtitles but I found myself soaking up the sound and enjoying the work aurally and found the concentrated body language used quite hypnotic. Sometimes the vocal and deeply focussed intensity is actually quiet scary in parts and that's partly what makes the drama of their work come alive. Everything is unexpected and has a focus like no other I seen. In fact I'd say to me as a seasoned reviewer and playgoer it was thrillingly unique and other-worldly. Another wonderful addition to the neat14 festival.

If you can get a ticket go see them tonight at Nottingham Playhouse. It will be an enriching hour very well spent in the dynamic company of the Chór Korbiet.


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