It Was 40 Years Ago Today

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A research project devoted to uncovering and archiving the history of Performance Art in Wales.

Prosiect ymchwil i ddadorchuddio ac archifo hanes Celf Perfformio yng Nghymru.

Winner of the David Bradby TaPRA Award for Research in International Theatre and Performance 2011.

If you have any information on performance in Wales that could be of use to the project, please get in touch!

Whether you are an artist who has made performance work in Wales, or an audience member who once witnessed a performance (voluntarily or involuntarily!), we would be pleased to hear from you.
Any material will be of interest - from actual pieces of documentation to vague memories of events caught out of the corner of one's eye.
mail@performance-wales.org

Cysylltwch â ni os oes gennych unrhyw wybodaeth am berfformio yng Nghymru a allai fod o ddefnydd i'r prosiect!

Efallai eich bod yn artist sydd wedi gwneud gwaith perfformio yng Nghymru, neu'n aelod o gynulleidfa a welodd berfformiad unwaith (o'ch gwirfodd neu'n anwirfoddol!). Pwy bynnag ydych chi, hoffem glywed gennych.
Bydd unrhyw ddeunydd o ddiddordeb - o ddogfennau gwreiddiol i atgofion amwys am ddigwyddiadau a welwyd o gornel y llygad.
Mae'r manylion cyswllt wedi'u rhestru dan 'Cyswllt' yma, neu gallwch anfon e-bost i'r cyfeiriad hwn: mail@performance-wales.org

Project Director Cyfarwyddwr Prosiect: Heike Roms
Dept Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University
Adran Astudiaethau Theatr, Ffilm a Theledu Prifysgol

Contact: Professor Heike Roms
Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies
Adran Astudiaethau Theatr, Ffilm a Theledu Prifysgol
Aberystwyth University
Adeilad Parry-Williams Building
Aberystwyth SY23 3AJ,
UK phone ffon: (+44) 1970 - 621911 (direct uniongyrchol) mail@performance-wales.org

Funded by Wedi ei drawsgronni gan:
ARTS AND HUMANITIES RESEARCH COUNCIL (AHRC) (2009-2011)
(CYNGOR YMCHWIL Y CELFYDDYDAU A’R DYNIAETHAU) (2009-2011)
ARTS COUNCIL OF WALES (ACW) (2006-2008)
CYNGOR CELFYDDYDAU CYMRU (CCC) (2006-2008)
SIR DAVID HUGHES PARRY AWARD 2006, 2008
ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY RESEARCH FUND (2007)

AHRC logo and link to website

Aberystwyth University Logo and link to website

Arts Council Wales logo and link to website

National Lottery Logo

Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved
Hawlfraint © 2011 Cedwir pob hawl

What's Welsh for Performance? Beth yw 'performance' yn Gymraeg?

:15 events from 15 years: 1974

:1965 :1966 :1967 :1968 :1969 :1970 :1971 :1972 :1973 :1974 :1975 :1976 :1977 :1978 :1979

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Keith Wood Group [or later] K.W. Productions [Wood, Keith]; included: Mike Pearson (Cardiff Laboratory Theatre); Ritva Lehtinen; Andrew Walton; Colin Ainsworth [stage management]; Meic Watkins [lighting]; Jenny Lister; Suan Beard [costumes

The Philosophers Stone [by Antonin Artaud]

30 May - 01 June 1974

Cardiff: Sherman Arena

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"The Philosopher's Stone" is Artaud's symbolic quest for identity and enlightenment; the philosopher's stone is a term used in Alchemy for the Gold transmutes from the interaction of sulphur (atributes [sic!] - solar, masculine, day) and mercury (lunar, feminine, night) within a hermetically sealed vessel like a theatre. The play is set in the anti-room of the 'alchemical laboratory' of Dr. Pail; we see one of his experiments, involving his young wife Isabelle and the traditional figure of Harlequin. [...]

The Philosopher's Stone has few words and communicates by the use of intoned sounds, outcries and hieroglyphic gesticulation.

The plot and its development is inferred rather than directly stated, to allow the absurd and illogical frame-work of the play a free-ranging hand. It is not an attempt to find a language of archetypes but rather to trace the archetype to its course and manifest its essential nature via the medium of the play, the process by which I have attempted to do this is the Alchemical process - 'from a man and woman make a circule, then a square, then a triangle, finally a circle, and you will obtain the Philosopher's Stone.'

[programme notes]

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Keith Wood: I went to the Arts Council [of Wales]; at that point the Sherman theatre had just opened, a big to do, the Sherman. And they had a gallery, a nice little gallery, and that theatre in the round space, theatre lab or whatever they called it. And so I went – I pitched to the Arts Council, the first time I'd done it, I pitched to the Arts Council, to the Art people and the Theatre people, I said I would do like an exhibition of drawings based on Artaud, and I could put on the Philosopher's Stone, which was you know, probably the only play I could find by Artaud. I was very interested in alchemy, a very sixties kind of thing, the idea of change and all these things. And so I kind of read it and got kind of inspired by this thing.

So, to my shock and horror, they agreed. So I then had like, say a hundred quid of something, probably less actually, and it was like, OK, so now we're going to do it which was when... because Mike [Pearson] was in it. I can't remember how I met Mike but somehow I'd met Mike, you know. So he was in it, Andrew Walton was in it, and Ritva Lehtinen, who was the dancer in Moving Being, a Finnish dancer, I'd been friendly with and so she was available and in it. Colin Ainsworth was like my technical coordinator. Poor Colin had to build all the sets. And I remember, Mike got theatre props from like a circus supplier and I was like, we've got all this money - we got all these catalogues for like big children's heads and stuff... 'we'll have one of those...' And so we did this thing, and I can remember a friend of mine made Mike's costume, which was like incredibly – made of jockey silks – was like incredibly hot. Totally the wrong... mad idea. And I put together this piece, the Philosopher's Stone, which was based on Artaud's philosophy, based on Artaud's piece and based on ideas of alchemy and the theatre of cruelty and these drawings, and put on this piece at the Sherman Theatre. Which was... It was well-received, and people liked it, and it was sold out for three nights. The Arts Council was happy, and I was like, wow, this was actually pretty good.

(Keith Wood in conversation with Heike Roms and Rebecca Edwards, New York 25 November 2010)

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For more information on the event and on its available documentation search our database.

Or listen to our oral history conversation with Keith Wood.