…at a threshold…two figures…two lives…multiple time spaces…
'With sound and action honed to an essence the result asks for a heightened attention. That required quality of attentiveness shared across an audience is not just salutary in itself but nudges into zones of philosophical enquiry.' Adam Somerset Review, 2016
…a haunting, painterly beauty…hypnotic…the astringent purity of a haiku poem…The performers have a remarkable presence…**** The Guardian, 2010
…hypnotic…extraordinary poise and perfection in the movement, text and staging…a beautifully contemplative sixty minutes… Kaite O'Reilly's hauntingly poetic snatches of text ripple through… perfectly syncopated and …splintered recollection of an interaction now lost to time. British Theatre Guide 2010
“…minimal…mesmerizing... evokes both later T.S. Eliot and haiku…unmistakable parallels… with the work of Merce Cunningham… two memorable live performers…See Chicago Dance 2011
“…Beckettian magnetic poetry…all dropped like shapeless stones into a moonlit lake of silence… Each dances the other’s absence. Both are beautiful movers…” Chicago TIMEOUT 2011
'THE WIND GENTLY WHISPERED A TALE THAT WAS ELUSIVE BUT EVOCATIVE, SENDING SOUNDS AND PHRASES ACROSS THE STAGE LIKE AUTUMN LEAVES RUSTLING THROUGH A CLEARING IN THE WOODS.'
CONTEMPORARY THEATRE REVIEW 2012 (JAPAN)
A sukinkutsu water chime plays quietly as the audience enters. As the performers step into the playing space, the sound fades out, and then there is silence....
Co-Created by Kaite O’Reilly, Jo Shapland, and Phillip Zarrilli
Performers: Jo Shapland/Phillip Zarrilli
Dramaturg: Kaite O'Reilly
Lighting Design: Ace McCarron
Artistic Consultants: Mari Boyd (Tokyo) and Peader Kirk (London)
[AVAILABLE FOR TOURING INTERNATIONALLY]
Two figures, two lives, multiple time spaces: TOLD BY THE WIND is a new performance of movement and text that ‘dances’ an inner landscape. This critically-acclaimed performance which premiered at Chapter in 2010, returns to Chapter after touring internationally b for two performances only.
TOLD BY THE WIND is a new performance of movement and text that ‘dances’ an inner landscape. The performance invites the audience to enter an imaginative space of possibilities. Critics have described the performance as ‘hypnotic’, ‘contemplative’, ‘mesmerizing,’ and ‘hauntingly poetic’. Told previewed at the Evora, Portugal festival, premiered in the UK, toured internationally to Berlin, Chicago, Poland, and most recently Tokyo. Told was co-created by an interdisciplinary team of artists working internationally including award-winning playwright/dramaturg Kaite O’Reilly (Ted Hughes Award for New Works of Poetry for Persians with National Theatre Wales), performer (Artistic Director/Llanarth Group) Phillip Zarrilli, and dancer/choreographer/performance-maker Jo Shapland.
Production history: TOLD was co-created over a one and one-half year process. Our two consultants, Mari Boyd (Tokyo) and Peader Kirk (London) advised and interacted with us at strategic points in our process. Initial preview performances were shown during August (2009) at the Tyn y parc Studio and site-specifically in the courtyard of the Evora Museum as part of the Escrita na paisagem (writing in the landscape) Festival (Evora, Portugal). Told by the Wind officially premiered 29 January, 2010 at Chapter Arts Centre (Cardiff, Wales, U.K.) and initially ran through 6 Feburary. During 2010 Told by the Wind toured to Tanzfabrik (Berlin), Exeter Phoenix (U.K.), Apocalypsis Room (The Grotowski Institute, Wroclaw, Poland). Toldwas performed at The Dance Center, Chicago (USA) (May, 2011). In November 2013 Told was performed in Huddersfield in association with the Lawrence Batley Theatre, and then toured to Tokyo Theatre Babylon for performances. Told was remounted for further performances in the UK in September, 2016 and is available for touring.
TOLD BY THE WIND is inspired by East Asian and ‘post-dramatic’ aesthetics. Narrative threads are evoked and told by embodied silences, splintered interactions, and slowed down motion. TOLD is informed by String Theory and Japanese Theatre of Quietude.
“The underlying principle of quietude is what the Japanese [playwright] Ota Shogo terms ‘the power of passivity.’ Passivity in art refers to the making of aesthetic distance. Instead of trying to aggressively transmit meaning to the audience, passivity exercises a spirit of ‘self reliance’…that compels the audience to attend, focus and participate imaginatively in the pursuit of signification, meaning, and pleasure. Passivity thus paradoxically engages the audience in a dynamic exchange of energy.” [The Aesthetics of Quietude, Mari Boyd].
Told By the Wind****
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Elisabeth Mahoney Tuesday 2 February 2010
Stripped of most elements we associate with drama, this intense meditation in movement revels in stillness. It's so still at times, you worry that scratching your head or crossing your legs will be audible to all. Performers Jo Shapland and Phillip Zarrilli, with writer Kaite O'Reilly, draw on Asian aesthetics, string theory and the Japanese theatre of quietude to present something that is beyond linear narrative, character and gripping plot twists.
Instead, they offer fragments of memory, speech and gestures, composed in moments that have a haunting, painterly beauty to them. A man and a woman are on stage together at all times, but never connect; he speaks a little, tugged at by the past, she remains silent, trying to form words but expressing herself physically as she shuffles, runs and dances in bare soil.
With no dialogue or fathomable action to follow, you try to make connections even though everything resists them. Is she in the memory he speaks of? Is she a character in the music he is writing, or the dance he appears to choreograph? What happens, slowly, is that those nagging questions subside and a calmer understanding emerges. It's all very hypnotic, with repeated small movements and shards of sentences, and it has the astringent purity of a haiku poem, though haiku seems positively wordy in comparison.
The performers have a remarkable presence, even when their movement is barely perceptible. This is a challenging production, but oddly affecting and quietly cleansing. On the opening night, the audience lingered at the end, as if not wanting to head back out into the noisy, demanding world.
Until Saturday. Box office: 029-2030-4400.
‘Slow Theatre for a Fast World’
TOLD BY THE WIND, Small World Theatre (Cardigan)
Adam Somerset Review October, 2016
Kaite O'Reilly was at London's South Bank on September 6th for a discussion event to accompany
the launch of a new play collection from Oberon Books “Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors.” Her
presence on a conversation platform, as part of the “Unlimited” Festival, was relaxed and assured,
one aspect being that several members of her audience had been her collaborators going back
thirty years. The public event filled in some of the gaps of a unique three-stranded life in theatre.
“Yard” at the Bush Theatre was a piece of small-cast realism suited for that characteristic space.
It hinted little at the variegation of the career to come that had started post-education as an actor with
Graeae. “The Almond and the Seahorse” is included in the new volume, a play that at one level
was a mainstream Wales touring production. As “Mandel & Seepferdchen” it played at the
Franconia Theatre in March this year. Apart from making mention of the dramaturg role and
the adaptation of Aeschylus she made mention of the long-standing collaboration with Philip
Zarrilli and their Llanarth Group.
“Slow Theatre for a Fast World” is included in her audience introduction to a Sunday afternoon
reprise of “Told by the Wind.” It has been seen in Japan, USA, Germany, Poland and Portugal.
A Chicago dance critic saw resemblance to a haiku, the late pared-down T S Eliot with shadings
of Beckett. The two performers have both appeared in print before the tour. Jo Shapland writes
for Arts Scene in Wales from the perspective of the dancer. An article by Philip Zarrilli in
Wales Arts Review of 29th September “Beneath the Surface” writes of the motives from
the standpoint of a director-performer-scholar.
It is a rich introduction to the artistic tradition of Japan, not least to a prevailing spirit of quietude
and a principle of aesthetics that “emphasises simplicity, impermanence, and the unique “beauty”
associated with natural processes of the passing the time.” Zarrilli touches too on the physics of
Brian Greene, which provided theme and structure for playwright Nick Payne to write
All of which was looked at subsequent to the experiencing of “Told by the Wind”. A man and
a woman occupy Small World's central space along with a pair of chairs, a small desk and
a lowered window, all in a common distressed condition of paint. There are words but not many,
ten minutes in a show of an hour. If multi-cast drama is akin to the colour and sweep of a
Rubens or a Tintoretto this is like gazing into the limitless depth of a Samuel Palmer. It comes
without music so that the brushing of a fern on wood takes on a quality of audibility, and
significance, unrealisable in the outer world.
With sound and action honed to an essence the result asks for a heightened attention. That
required quality of attentiveness shared across an audience is not just salutary in itself but
nudges into zones of philosophical enquiry. Attention was a cornerstone for the thought of
Simone Weill- “the virtue of humility is nothing more or less than the power of attention.”
Small gestures that say nothing explicitly assume a weight of signification; eternity indeed
is to be found in a grain of sand.
Told by the Wind
The Llanarth Group , Chapter Arts Centre Cardiff , January 31, 2010
Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan THEATRE WALES
This is a kind of kinetic work of fine art, though the painter works alone, here the work has arisen from a symbiosis of three very experienced and deeply sensitive artists working in perfect harmony from the inception of the project to its presentation.
A man, not young, in crumbled clothes sits at an old white bureau. He is looking out through a window, the coming of autumn troubles him, he recalls he is not comfortable walking with the dew on the ground. He turns his head inwards, he may be looking for the younger woman who is sitting at the other side of the stage, She turns her head, she may be looking for him. As the wind gently blows forward their movements intermingle. They never meet. Did they know each other once? Are they yearning for each other? Are they just figures passing by in the evening light?
Writer Kaite O’Reilly and performers Phillip Zarrilli and Jo Shapland have invited another consummate artist to enable them to complete their landscape. Lighting designer Ace McCarron paints the stage pictures with a delicate warm autumn gold complementing the dreamlike quality of the action. The long quiet stillness of the opening sequence has us questioning it in the early moments but very soon we are captivated, mesmerised we, well for me anyway I was drawn into a dream like state and I shared my dream with the figures on the stage before me completely drawn into an aesthetic inspired by Japanese Theatre of Quietude.
They were able to evoke so much emotion with such simplicity. Zarrilli elegantly stumbled in the light whilst Shapland ran and danced with spirited elegance. There might well be a touch of Svengali and Trilby, but with only benign influences here. Jo Shapland, multi-disciplinary artist, choreographer, and performer trained with Zarrrilli for ten years. Phillip Zarrilli is internationally known for training actors in psychophysical process through Asian martial/meditation arts. He runs a private studio (Tyn-y-parc C.V.N. Kalari/Studio) in Wales, and conducts workshops throughout the world. His latest highly acclaimed publication: Psychophysical Acting: an intercultural approach after Stanislavski is now regarded as essential reading for everyone working and exploring this field.
Kaite O’Reilly is one of Wales’ most successful playwrights. She is now working on a new version of Aeschylus’ Persians to be directed by Mike Pearson for the National Theatre of Wales in August.
Told By the Wind
Created by Kaite O'Reilly, Jo Shapland and Phillip Zarrilli
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, and touring
Review by Allison Vale (2010) [BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE]
I'll be honest. I'm a fan of traditional, narrative theatre. I like being part of a passive audience, soaking up a damn fine plot, executed by fully developed characters. I enjoy the security of the alternative reality they create.
I'm not an advocate of 'Death to the Author'; I'm generally not drawn to post-modern theatre.
So sitting in Chapter's beautifully re-vamped foyer, waiting to be let in to Told By The Wind at 8pm on the dot, I braced myself as I read that I was to be treated to an evening of "post-dramatic aesthetics…String Theory and Japanese Theatre of Quietude". Frankly, I wasn't at all sure I wanted to be compelled to find my own meaning and significance in "embodied silences, splintered interactions and slowed-down motion".
In fact Told By the Wind is easily the most hypnotic piece theatre I have experienced. The extraordinary poise and perfection in the movement, texting and staging of this piece makes for a beautifully contemplative sixty minutes.
Kaite O'Reilly's hauntingly poetic snatches of text ripple through the piece, adding texture without informing plot or character. The slow, silent grace of this play without dialogue, this ballet without music, makes the experience of sitting in the audience a wholly introspective one. At times it feels more like a meditation than theatre.
Most affecting for me was a scene in which the two disparate characters performed by co-creators, Zarrilli and Shapland, separated by time and space, sit at opposite corners of the stage, their backs turned to each other. They engage in an unspoken dialogue, mouthed and entirely inaudible. Stripped of all the usual cues of sight or sound, their conversation is none the less perfectly syncopated and entirely convincing as the splintered recollection of an interaction now lost to time.
It is this precision in the crafting and the execution of this piece which makes it so compelling. It's undoubtedly a rigorous piece of theatre to sit through but it's all the more affecting for that.
"Told By The Wind" runs at Chapter until February 6th, and tours to Tanzfabrik, Berlin and Phoenix Arts Centre, Exeter.
SHORT VIDEO TRAILERS:
Trailer for 2016 UK tour
SHORT VIDEO TRAILERS:
Extract from performance in the Acropolis Room, The Grotowski Institute.