Thursday, December 06, 2012

Of An Artist's Ideals

Photo credit: Mark Douet for The Telegraph.

Many exciting plays that I want to watch are slated for the 2013 season. Oh well. I'll take what I can get now. Watched Tom Cairns' re-interpretation of Howard Barker's classic, 'Scenes from an Execution'. Themes explored aren't jaded, and are in fact relevant still in many forms, not just for a painter. Excellent acting. (Read reviews here, herehere and here.)

Played by the talented Fiona Shaw (you'll remember her as the witch Marnie in True Blood), Galactia is a (fictional, but apparently based on Artemisia Gentileschi) female artist living in sixteenth century Venice. She has been commissioned by the Doge, played by Tim McInnerny, to create a painting in celebration the triumph over the Turks in the (true, historic) Battle of Lepanto 1571. Therein lies the complications as the play depicts the struggles of an artist's ideals against the requirements of the state. Within all that, there's also the issue of an ambitious younger lover Carpeta, played by Jamie Ballard.

Of course Galactia paints an ugly picture of a massacre, in all its blood and gore rather than in a suitable portrayal of a celebration of victory. Mayhem ensued, followed by threats of dungeons and all, moving towards actual imprisonment. Great acting by Fiona Shaw- the impassioned defiant artist, that intensity and fierce conformity to her ideals, and not to the state. All the complexities within aren't very different to what artists of today have to face, and choose too. Loved the set(s) done by Hildegard Bechtler. The resolution at the ending couldn't have been better. No, the integrity of the painting wasn't compromised. :) It was balanced out by a clever critic of the times.

What a good night out. This thing about taking drinks into the theatre is a great idea. Always have to pace the sips. Wouldn't want to have to rush to the toilet in the most inconvenient of moments, especially if a play has no intermission.

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