Twilightofthefreakingods celebrated five glorious years @ A E Harris, the last performance at the venue in its large format.
Twilightofthefreakingods was a large scale theatrical experiment that unfolded slowly over 255 minutes with a cast of 13 ranging over three interconnected performance spaces totalling more than 1000 square meters. It was Gotterdammerung without Wagner’s words or music (Nina West delivered a whole new soundtrack) rendering it a piece of visual theatre but with timings tied to George Solti’s recording of the opera.
The cast was drawn from companies who had previously performed @ A E Harris. There were no rehearsals, instead the cast worked from timed instructions unaware on the first night of what anyone else in the room would be doing. An ‘austerity production’ the show reused props from many previous Stan’s Cafe productions, utilised its industrial setting and acknowledged the company’s departure from the space.
The audience were invited to negotiate their own strategies for viewing the show. The bar was open throughout and toasties were on sale. Both cabaret and raked seating were provided and no one position afforded a view of all three performance spaces.
During these two performances Reel Access shot over 24 hours of video. Their brief was to make a film from the show, a film which was not to be a documentary recording of the event but an artwork in its own right. A year later it emerged. Black and white, slowed down, often layered it has its own extraordinary hypnotic power. Nina West has adapted her overwhelming score from the live performance for this film’s edit and rendered it in surround sound. It is difficult to make comparisons for this very unusual film. Perhaps it is Fritz Lang mistakes Ring Cycle for The Cremaster Cycle and makes it in industrial Birmingham with no budget.
Timetabled by Craig Stephens & James Yarker
Music: Nina West
Lighting Operation (improvised): Jim Wyatt-LeesLighting Design: Mick Diver
Costumes & Live Making: Kay Wilton with Liz Vass
Sculptural Costumes and fabric consultation: Denise Stanton
Props plus: Craig Stephens
Alberich & Wotan – Michael Radford
Brunnhilde – Chris Dugrenier
Child – Eve Yarker
Flosshilde & Norn #3 – Rebecca Greenhalgh
Gunther – Jake Oldershaw
Gutrune – Amy Ann Haigh
Hagen – Jack Trow
Machinist #1 – Craig Stephens
Machinist #2 – James Yarker
Machinist #3 – Rochi Rampal
Siegfried – Graeme Rose
Waltraute – Olivia Winteringham
Wellgunde & Norn #2 – Maria-Angela Wells
Woglinde & Norn #1 – Katherine Lunney
Photographs: Graeme Braidwood
Video: Reel Access
General Manager: Charlotte Martin
Marketing Advice: Josie Stevens
Local Marketing: Dave Freak
National Media: Mobius
Forklift Driving: John Stych
Office Assistant: Philip Holyman
Michael Wolters for the Nietzsche.
Chris Hall at Bacchus Bar & Pippa Frith
Philip Holyman, Lucy Nicholls & Harry Trow
The Stan’s Cafe board of directors plus Nick Sweeting
John Sloyan and A E Harris & Co.
mac birmingham, Theatre Ark and The REP
Flatpack and the University of Stafford
The cast and crew for their trust and commitment
Thank you for joining us in this theatrical experiment. The performance takes place across three rooms. You cannot physically see into all rooms simultaneously, so you will probably want to change your viewing position during the show. Please be careful when moving about the auditorium.
The show aspires to be a bit like Test Match cricket, absorbing, occasionally exciting but also a social occasion not intended to be watched in total silence. The bar will remain open throughout the show and toasted sandwiches are on sale outside.
Twilightofthefreakingods is Wagner’s Gotterdammerung without the music or libretto but with timings mapping onto George Solti’s recording of the opera. The show is unrehearsed and runs from a timetable of separate instructions for each performer. A sample from Graeme’s ‘script’ runs thus:
21:33 Approach the flames and stand on them
21:35 Reach out for Brunnhilde’s left wrist and hold it.
21:36 Reach out towards her hand with your other hand
21:37 Take the ring off her finger.
21:38 Hold the ring up.
21:39 Back away.
21:41 Turn to leave and leave.
21:42 In Africa take off hood and go to rest on Couch #2
If you are unfamiliar with Gotterdammerung and feel your experience would be improved by knowing the plot a very rough precise is given below [not included on website].
Twilightofthefreakingods is a celebration of five years of performances in our home venue, @ A E Harris. It is the final performance to take place in the venue’s large format. In the New Year it will re-open as a fifty-seat venue. Stan’s Cafe would like to thank our landlords, Arts Council England, friends, colleagues and audiences who have made it all possible. This is our second ‘austerity’ production so Stan’s Cafe devotees may enjoy trying to spot items from previous shows in this one.
I would personally like to thank Charlotte and Craig. This venue has been built on their incredible skills, commitment and goodwill. By extension I’d also like to thank their families (and mine) for being so ridiculously tolerant when hearing the phrase “I’ve just got to nip down to the space” or “yes, I’m just locking up now”. You’ve made this special thing possible.
Let’s celebrate… Twilightofthefreakingods.
Thanks to Stans Cafe and everyone involved in Twilightofthefreakingods, I thought it was an incredible show – totally mesmerising – and a very moving tribute to the era of A E Harris. The whole project has been an inspiration for theatre companies in Birmingham, and you’ve proved time and time again that where there’s a will, there’s a way. I really look forward to seeing what you do next!T.A.
10 & 12 October 2013, @ A E Harris, Birmingham
25 & 26 October 2014, Patrick Centre, Birmingham
30 November 2016, MAC, Birmingham
What a freakin amazing thing. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Thursday night as did all my DMU students who came along. Fascinating to see the script as wellMC
I really enjoyed the experience on Thursday, and more than I can remember from any other performance I have witnessed, it has been playing in mind rather a lot. The presentation was inspiring for me as I continue to think about possibilities for my own ensemble.DW
Congratulations on such a wonderful, mysterious and haunting evening. Unforgettable images – and marvellous that you did it at all!SN
Huge congratulations for Twilight and making the impossible actually happen. I had an amazing evening on Thursday and it was a privilege to be part of the audience – and it was just like a test match with a final Harmison style last over.Audience Member
Thank you Stan’s Cafe for an awesome four-hour slo-mo production. You guys must ache some this morning. That’s some marathon.Audience Member
Screen Grabs from Twilightofthefreakingods – The FIlm
#twilightofthefreakingods was amazing last night. Thank you and congratulations @stanscafe – always extraordinary!NS
#twilightofthefreakingods came to a close with a man trying to shove the world through a door, and a big metal ring crashing to the ground.FF
Brilliant upstaging by james Yarker single handedly manhandling a bouncy castle and throwing balloons!SN