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I shall be tossing in my sleep dreaming over it! It really was the most powerful female performance I have seen in a very long time. Her voice still rattles in my bones.

- review from an audience member who will be attending ‘SAPPHO …in 9 fragments’ for a second time next week

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SAPPHO …in 9 fragments by Jane Montgomery Griffiths transfers to The Rose, Bankside from 21st May to 2nd June, 2013. This politically-charged and visually-compelling solo performance, featuring the “magnetic” (RemoteGoat) Victoria Grove, achieved critical and popular acclaim with a sold-out extended run at the White Rabbit Theatre.

Rose“The Rose – part fringe theatre, part excavation site – is the perfect venue for a play about Sappho, whose extensive collection of poetry has been all but lost, save for a few fragments that suggest what might have existed; just like the foundations that permit us to imagine the theatre once used by Marlowe and Shakespeare” 

- Jessica Ruano, Director of SAPPHO …in 9 fragments

Following its two-week run in London’s historic venue, this “uncommonly exhilarating” (Exeunt Magazine) production begins a tri-city Canadian tour in June 2013, then plays at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2013 at theSpace Venue 45. 

Within a secluded cavern, Ancient Greece’s first love poet laments her erasure from history, while a chorus girl named Atthis is seduced into a modern-day Sapphic romance.

Featuring Victoria Grove as Sappho/Atthis and directed by Jessica Ruano, this production is designed by Ana Ines Jabares, with lighting by Sarah Crocker, sound by Luca Romagnoli, and aerial work by Jani Nightchild.

SAPPHO …in 9 fragments plays at The Rose, Bankside, 56 Park Street, London, SE1 9AS (near London Bridge Station) from 21st May to 2nd June, 2013, Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are £12 (£10 concessions) at wegottickets.com

For more information: 0207 261 9565, info@rosetheatre.org.uk, and rosetheatre.org.uk.

For a one-minute trailer of the show, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN2E8j5UfiE 

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Sappho Blog 1015 x  276

Dear everyone,

Since moving to London over a year and a half ago, I managed to fall in with some wonderful theatre artists and ended up directing my first professional show titled ‘Sappho …in 9 fragments’. Since the show did quite well (check the reviews), I’ve decided to take it to Canada on tour.

Interested in getting involved? There are several options:

 

1) SEE THE SHOW

‘Sappho’ is playing in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal this June 2013. And you’ll love it, I promise. It’s got poetry (from Ancient Greece’s best love poet), storytelling, aerial choreography, ropes and scaffolding, phenomenal acting, killer soundtrack, ‘take your breath away’ visual moments, and the sexiest lesbian love story you’ll ever encounter. Seriously, bring the kids.

Toronto: June 14 & 15

Ottawa: June 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29

Montreal: June 27 & 28

For full tour information and to purchase advance tickets, please follow this link.

 

2) PROMOTE THE SHOW

If you can’t make it to the performance, but you think your friends will love it, feel free to connect them with us via. social media.

Website/Blog: http://sappho9fragments.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/460578744012696/

Twitter: @sappho9fragment

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN2E8j5UfiE

 

3) SUPPORT THE SHOW

Truth is, we need some money. We’re taking this show across the ocean from London to Ottawa, and plane tickets are expensive, yo. And you know how much I love handing out flyers, so we should probably print a few of those. Plus venue rental costs and hiring a fancy limo to drive around the lead actress… uh, forget that last bit.

All in all, we’re looking at spending just over $5000.00. Which is not bad for an international show. So if you’re willing and able to chip in a few, you know I would be forever grateful. And I’ll happily thank you publicly.

Donating is super easy: just visit the Jer’s Vision page (this charity is wonderful enough to be supporting and presenting our Canadian tour), click on ‘DONATE NOW’ and select ‘Arts: Sappho in Canada’ as the recipient.

Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions.

The show opens in just over two months! In the meantime, we’re making plans to remount the show in London (possibly in one of Shakespeare’s former theatres…) and present the play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. So much to look forward to.

I spent my last couple of years in university studying and shadowing Canadian theatre companies that toured their work in festivals nationally and internationally. I admired their perseverance and their belief that theatre work could have a life beyond its original presentation, even ten to fifteen years into the future. And I would love for ‘Sappho’ to enjoy a similarly lengthy existence. Here’s hoping!

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“The best theatrical experience I’ve had since New York 2011 and the Book of Mormon”  MAUREEN LIPMAN

 

sap thinEXEUNT MAGAZINE ★★★★

“Uncommonly exhilarating”

“Jessica Ruano’s direction focuses so keenly on the physical, that it’s as much a piece of choreography as a text; I believe Sappho, a great proponent of both the direct and the sensual in poetry, would unreservedly approve. No part of the space is not explored, no shape of the body not attempted.”

“Victoria Grove, who is surely some kind of professional enchantress, with the husky voice of a Dench or a Bacall and the poise of a young Vanessa Redgrave. Her characterisation of Sappho is simultaneously haughty and earthy; imagine Penelope Keith’s voice in Felicity Kendal’s body.”

FEMALE ARTS ★★★★

“Sappho… in 9 fragments is written, directed and executed with passion”

THE LADY ★★★★

“Stunningly athletic and entirely sensuous… fluidly directed”

REMOTE GOAT ★★★★

“a spectacular visual and physical piece”

“a gracious dance between an improvised energy and choreographed poignancy”

“Victoria Grove is fantastic, she is magnetic and mysterious, dominating…”

“like a fireworks display that you are glued to and every jet of sparkling light explodes with a wonderful climax”

BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE

“What a performer!” … “A bravura display of technique and emotion”

“Remarkable balances and acrobatic gyrations”

“Victoria Grove makes this aerial choreography seem second nature”

UK THEATRE NETWORK

“Don’t miss this unique production!”

“highly sensual and intelligent piece… charged with eroticism”

“inspired direction” “outstanding performance”

A YOUNGER THEATRE

“Both intellectually stimulating and intensely compelling”

GAYDARGIRLS

“Intimidatingly intimate … a totally mesmerising production”

N16 MAGAZINE

“Victoria Grove is magnetic and compelling… A unique production and a chance to catch an impressively talented actress at close quarters.”

HACKNEY HIVE

“brilliantly staged” “utterly riveting performance”

DESTINATION HACKNEY

“bewitching Victoria Grove” … “strong direction by Jessica Ruano”

VENTS REVIEW

“Spellbinding… This dramatic meditation on identity, filtered through a classicists appreciation of the great Sappho, is a triumph for everyone involved.”

MONKEY POET REVIEW

“The show won a standing ovation from me, the fourth in 25 years…yes, it’s that f*cking good!”

~

SAPPHO …in 9 fragments by Jane Montgomery Griffiths. Directed by Jessica Ruano and featuring the Victoria Grove as Sappho/Atthis, this production is designed by Ana Ines Jabares with lighting by Sarah Crocker and sound by Luca Romagnoli. 

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Sappho Poster low res

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Theatre people at SubDevision. Photo credit: Julie Laurin

Following a two-week visit to Ottawa, I feel rejuvenated and inspired. Man, I needed that. I needed to see my childhood home in the spring time. I needed to see my friends busy at work and play. I needed to perform poetry in the park. I needed to attend a theatre carnival and be welcomed by the majority of the people in the room. I needed to climb my favourite tree and bike along the canal and visit the farmers’ market and try contact improv and get drunk with my high school buddies and have lunch on a patio in the market and go salsa dancing and run into people in the street.

Having seen plenty of incredible theatre in London, I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer quality of the work at SubDevision and The Extremely Short Play Festival. And finally we have an Ottawa theatre brochure!

Having experienced bouts of anxiety and depression in recent years, I was relieved to find myself capable of relaxing, enjoying simple pleasures, living in the moment. Spending time with a three year old and his wonderful caregiver (i.e. one of my favourite people in the whole world) can really help with that.

Having suffered through severe heartbreak recently, I was ecstatic to realize that I still have the capacity to fall for someone in less than twenty-four hours. Thank you, Rosemary; you inspire.

Why don’t I just come back? Well, I have many reasons - but one of them is, simply, that I need to be away for a while. Moving across the ocean is the riskiest thing I have ever done, and I question myself  constantly for having left behind everything I know and love. Simply existing here in London is a challenge. Whereas in Ottawa, jobs were offered to me on a silver press kit and friends were never far away, here I have to fight for everything I want. If I don’t want to spend time alone and lonely, I have to make an effort to connect with people, to make plans on my own initiative, to force myself to get out of bed in the morning and be productive. I’m finding this very difficult, but I’m not going to give up yet.

This summer I have a number of activities planned: among some of the more exciting, I’m moving into a new flat that will require minor renovations and decorating; I’m planning a European tour for my company Second Skin Theatre; and I’m planning to get more involved with my Walthamstow neighbourhood – anything from volunteering, to offering workshops, to attending more local events. Running London’s West End might be a more ambitious aim, but I’m the kind of person that likes to immerse myself in a tight-knit community; the goal of ‘making a difference’ is that much more attainable. And, hey, maybe I’ll attempt to take over the big city next year.

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My background was, I suppose, theatrical…

Simon Callow, My Life in Pieces: An Alternative Autobiography

After about half an hour of waiting for Simon Callow at the stage door of Trafalgar Studios following a performance of his one-man show Being Shakespeare, Ottawa playwright Lawrence Aronovitch asked me: How determined are you?

Considering his book Being An Actor was practically my bible throughout high school and ‘Meet Simon Callow’ is number 91 on my list of 101/1001, yes, I was pretty keen to exchange a few words with the guy, perhaps snag an autograph.

Just as we were contemplating heading back to our respective homes, Lawrence looked over my shoulder, smiled, and said simply, There he is.

And out walked The Actor into the dimly lit street, followed closely by a young man with a fold-up bicycle. He greeted us warmly and happily agreed to sign our newly purchased books.

 

Did you find the script or did the script find you, I asked with uncharacteristic succinctness.

He laughed and replied: Well, I wrote it.

Didn’t the playwright write it…?

It was a collaborative process. We worked together quite closely. There were some changes made.

Lawrence is a playwright! I couldn’t resist playing the role of agent/producer…

Ah, really! T.E. or Olivier?

Confirming the correct spelling of his name, my companion mentioned that he, too, was working on a one-man show.

You inspire, Lawrence said graciously. I saw you in Wilde. And I’ve read Tuesdays at Tescos.

An extraordinary play, noted Simon Callow. A difficult play, difficult to memorize.

Probably keen to continue with their evening, The Actor and the man with the fold-up bicycle politely made their excuses and headed up the street and into the crowds of Trafalgar Square.

Funny he would say that, said Lawrence.

Say what?

That he wrote the play. Really, Shakespeare wrote most of it. And the playwright, presumably. There was a lot of subtext in that statement.

Yeah, true. Interesting. [pause] Hey – we met Simon Callow! Nice!!

And that’s how I celebrated my sixth month anniversary of living in London.

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Several weeks ago I attended a play at the National Theatre called Travelling Light, and it was a wonderful production. But the interesting thing about my experience with this play was not the any one aspect of the production, but how it – as a whole – affected me afterwards. Which is not to undervalue the qualities of this play: despite an unnecessarily sentimental ending, this is a strong and witty script about the creation of film, stemming from small-town ambition, complete with endearing Jewish personalities, a neurotic young film director, and his beautiful assistant turned silent film actress. And it had Anthony Sher, who is a fantastic stage actor.

My experience is not something I can explain in objective terms. I suppose the best way I can describe it is that it had this intoxicating, contagious energy that stayed with me the entire walk and tube ride home. I found myself walking so quickly I was practically skipping down the street with nervous excitement. I just wanted to keep moving. Even waiting at a crosswalk, I could barely keep still. I took out my iPod touch and started filming my route, paying close attention to the quick turns in the road, observing small details as I passed. Similar to when I became acquainted with Harriet the Spy and immediately bought myself a spy notebook just like hers; but, in this case, I thought I could be a film maker. Granted, the little video I created was far from imaginative, and it is, in fact, so boring to watch, that I won’t even bother sharing it. But the point is, at the time, something electric happened, and it felt fantastic.

I mention this only because sometimes going to the theatre can be an exhausting experience, which is why, I think, it isn’t as popular as it once was. Watching videos at home requires far less emotional sacrifice. But if a play is poor quality or simply ‘not for you’, the effort it takes to watch and stay engaged with a live performance can feel wasted when the experience is not gratifying. Still, once in a while, during or following a performance, you find yourself in a similar state to riding down a steep hill at full speed on your beloved bicycle (sometimes more therapeutic than therapy, I recently discovered…) or flying down a particularly lush snow hill with a sharp wind hitting the parts of your face not covered by ski goggles. And those moments are somehow magnified, multiplied by the closeness of theatre, by the intimacy of sharing the same space. And that’s why I keep going back – hoping to renew my acquaintance with that feeling.

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