The Rasputin Show by Michael Almaz.
Presented by Unfinished Histories on Monday 10th December 2018, 7:30pm at Southwark Playhouse, Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD
The show was presented part of Unfinished Histories’ ongoing project interrogating the repertoire of the alternative theatre movement, to explore what it might offer to us today and encourage future productions. The event also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the end of the Lord Chamberlain’s theatre censorship, and was a Benefit to support the work of Unfinished Histories.
“The play is not about Russia, not about Rasputin, but about the nature of government. Political power should be shown to be, by its very nature, corrupt, ruthless, vicious and above all – stupid”. (Michael Almaz, 1968)
Presented as vividly staged reading of the show, directed by Georgina Sowerby with technical support from Jon Lee (joint Artistic Directors, Dirty Market) with an inter-generational cast the performance brought together veterans of the alternative theatre movement and young performers, encountering a new style of work. Musical Director was Rebecca Thorn. Production Co-ordinator was Lucie Regan and the producers were Susan Croft, Jessica Higgs and Pam Martell. The event was filmed by Igor Proskurov and his short film about the work can be seen here.
The cast were: Meena Agrawal, Georgina Ambrey, Norma Cohen, Kizzie Connell-Corbin, Freddie Connelly, Nora Connolly, Ben Cooper, Lauren Cooper, Annie Firbank, Leslie Gay, Johny Gill, Giulia Hallworth, Robyn Harriott, Andrew Hawkins, Paul Humpoletz, Giverny Masso, Nicolas Master-Waage, Oliver McClellan, John McRae, Stephane Middleton, Ninad Samaddar, Sally Willis, Sasha Winslow and Dan Ventura.
Cast members said:
‘Given what a complex, zany epic project it was to mount on so many levels – I’m keen to express my praise to all the team [especially] Georgina Sowerby for her intelligence & stamina to conduct & direct so many actors, drawn from the period when first Rasputin was performed, plus engaging a fresh new vital component of young talent so many years later, who have been afforded an insight into the -let’s call it – the ‘revolutionary’ history of Theatre before they were born – including – the end of censorship.’
‘It had its own momentum, its own dynamic and by the end I think that something really did explode’.
The original production in 1968 transferred from the Brighton Combination arts lab, newly formed by Noel Greig, Jenny Harris and Ruth Marks, to the Arts Theatre, where it, ‘richly deserved the critical spotlight’. An experimental piece compared in its presentation to jazz and comic strips and loved or loathed for its chaotic creativity, it was a mixed media, exploratory piece with a physical and visual language, directed by Chris Parr.
If you would be interested in exploring a script from the alternative theatre movement through a similar event, please contact us.