» café reason

» butoh

» diary

» new work

» past work

»» dolls' house
»» the heart's desire
»» matrix
»» orpheus
»» precarious footing
»» the if path
»» guess-station
»» la table
»» erosion
»» echo
»» bona dea


» classes

» contacts

Orpheus Poster
Orpheus poster
(Photo: Paul Freestone)

Because I Love You (video - 7 minutes)

Orpheus - Serious Game
(Love is a) Serious Game

Orpheus - Beautiful Song
Falling Apart (Beautiful Song)

Orpheus - Here Comes the Night
Here Comes the Night

Orpheus - A Deal With Death
A Deal With Death

Orpheus - Get Out of my Head
Get Out of my Head

Orpheus - Because I Love You
Because I Love You

Orpheus - A Dream of Love
A Dream of Love

ORPHEUS - May 2008

"You can't always get what you want..."
(Mick Jagger)

In its latest theatre piece, devised in collaboration with the improvising rock band Nonstop Tango, Café Reason venture into the Underworld to grapple with the eternal themes of Love and Death and their control over human lives. The archetypal myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, of love and loss, of hope and fear, and the redeeming power of art, is reinvented through an eclectic mix of Butoh, video, puppet theatre and no-holds-barred live music.

Our six-month preparation period explored the Orpheus story, both the original version and 20th century re-workings of it (e.g. Cocteau's Orphée), together with related Japanese myths (e.g. Izanami and Izanagi).

Our research centred on the nature of love and personal relationships, as well as male/female and music/dance synergies and polarities, with group members recounting their own experiences and memories. Video footage of these testimonies was then used as part of the performance, and recordings of the voices as part of the soundtrack. Other video material was filmed on the city streets at night and in bare woods, icy rivers and ponds, to provide part of the dream-like environment of the Underworld.

As we responded to the emotional power of the material we were working with, we also began to learn more about individual and group dynamics, and how these varied according to gender and type of artist, with the tension of opposites embodied in the myth a powerful creative/destructive force. This project has also stretched Café Reason's perception and practice of Butoh, whereby we had to challenge the now conventional anti-narrative of much contemporary Butoh performance, thus, perversely, connecting in an essential way to the original iconoclasm of the form.

A structure was devised by Jeannie Donald McKim, Malcolm Atkins, and Miles Doubleday, drawing on Monteverdi's Orfeo, which divided the piece into five main sections linked by a narrative. Through a process of improvisation, experimentation, and group input, we built on this structure to create a complex 75-minute theatre performance.

The musicians collectively represented Orpheus (in the guise of a disillusioned rock star), also embodied by vocalist/narrator Miles. The character of Orpheus was danced by Paul Mackilligin, that of Eurydice by Ana Barbour, and the enigmatic character of Death by Jeannie Donald-McKim, with the other female dancers (Francesca Bregoli, Paola Esposito, Ayala Kingsley, and Fabrizia Verrecchia) representing the changing emotional aspects of Eurydice's experience.

As the piece developed we presented it in several venues and in several incarnations as a 'work in progress': with only half the cast in the upstairs room of a pub, late at night at an informal arts gathering in a disused London car showroom with only one working power point, and as a fast-paced 'Hollywood trailer' at the Pegasus Theatre as part of their fund-raising gala, with our "premiere" opening on May 30 also at the Pegasus. We would like to develop the piece still further and are looking for a new venue, perhaps in London, for which to do this.