Our old friends NIE returned to the Drama St Mary's theatre this evening with their new show Tales from a Sea Journey. It was lovely to see them bring their peculiar brand of Post-Brechtian clowning back for a new generation of students to enjoy. It was wonderful to see ex-student Kieran back, playing a brave Norwegian sea captain.
Unlike their earlier trilogy, which sought to dramatise the cataclysmic history of twentieth century Europe by telling the stories of three families, this new show focuses more directly on the way stories help us to pass time, to form communities and to dispel our fear of loneliness. Whilst it lacked the political bite of previous work there was a metaphysical dimension at work here.
The company created the show a year ago when they spent ten days as passengers on a container ship travelling from France to Guadalupe in the West Indies. Each member of the company was asked to take along three stories and a couple of songs for the rest of the actors to learn. They fused this process with observations and tales from their own adventure. The result is a wickedly funny, kaleidoscopic treat of tentative offerings, songs and fables, made poignant by the ever present awe inspiring vastness of the Ocean. We're tossed and turned from moments of gloriously silly slapstick to sublime majesty.
As in previous work NIE stand to assure us that stories are our real solace, inspiration and the only thing we can genuine offer in the face of the unfathomable mysteries of the deep. .
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.