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Globaleyes - Chicken Shed Theatre Company
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Author:  Joanne [ Fri Aug 02, 2002 4:48 am ]
Post subject:  Globaleyes - Chicken Shed Theatre Company

Review in the Standard.

Dancing for a cause - Chicken Shed

by Judith Flanders

Chicken Shed began 28 years ago as a small group working in a disused chicken shed in north London. Today it has more than 650 members, among them the abled, the disabled and the differently abled. All perform, all play an equal part. Over the years they have produced 20 musicals, as well as ballet, mime and dancer productions. <P>Their new work, Globaleyes, brings them to the West End for the first time, and they give a sparkling performance of dance theatre. The energy levels of this multi-talented cast are phenomenal, and in choreographer Christine Niering's tightly-focused piece, they produce genuine excitement. With just a bare stage, in Dostoyevsky-does-Boho costumes, they catch fire.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Apr 18, 2005 1:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Globaleyes - Chicken Shed Theatre Company


"Globaleyes" preview

London’s Chicken Shed Theatre has a high reputation for innovation and its integrated classes and performances for performers with and without special needs. Anita Roddick, founder of Bodyshop, said about them:

“When you see the work of the company, all of humanity is there. I was moved and motivated by what I saw, a company which itself demonstrates a basic human right – the right of every individual to perform, irrespective of their perceived ability or background.”

The company evokes strong emotions and Jeremy Irons said at one of their events: “I was at the Oscars last Monday. I am happier to be here.”

My first experience of Chicken Shed was their recent “Peter Pan” and I was deeply impressed with the energy, visual flair and remarkable crowd choreography with up to 80 children onstage at a time and this was only one of four casts. Another intriguing aspect of “Peter Pan” was the deaf signing throughout the performance and not from a specialist at the side of the stage, but by the cast taking it in turns and sometimes with the signing movement integrated into the choreography.

I was delighted to find that Chicken Shed’s spring 2005 production is a revival of “Globaleyes”, based on issues such as inequality, violence, exploitation and hopes for a future without these aberrations. The company is working with Amnesty International and other Non-Governmental Organisations to enrich the creative process and to find new audiences. At a recent press preview I was able to see some fragments of work in progress, featuring eye-catching choreography, humour and a moving final scene, “Resurrection.” I took the opportunity to interview choreographer and dancer Christine Niering about the revival of “Globaleyes”.

Stuart Sweeney: Why did you and the team want to address global issues?

Christine Niering: We staged this show three years ago and at the time I had a real sense of the company wanting to look outwards and acknowledge what is happening in the world. Also, to examine where we sit as a company in world politics, in the light of the challenges we face because of the inclusive aspects of our work. It seemed inspiring to use movement and physical theatre to pick up themes presented by Anita Roddick in “Take it Personally” and Naomi Klein in “No Logo”. As a company that is very much about the individual and individual expression, it seemed so right to create a work about people and the way they interact. We addressed issues such as fair trade and the environment in an emotional discourse to try to provoke and excite audiences as much as they impact on us.

Stuart: For the revival, a representative from Amnesty came to talk to the production team and cast about human rights themes. Was that useful?

Christine: It was very useful, particularly when they went through the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights with us. As a result, we decided to project the Declaration on-stage in the interval. I am very interested in the arms trade, child soldiers and the situation in Columbia and that connects with the first section of our second half, which depicts military power, whether by a super power, a rebel force or terrorists. I am also very interested in Amnesty’s Women’s Campaign, which resonates with our view of the cycle of life, Mother Earth, the situation of women, particularly oppressive situations such as prostitution and poorly paid jobs.

Stuart: Some people say that dance shouldn’t get involved in political themes. What would you say to them?

Christine: I think that dance has a unique way of communicating, not based on words, and as artists we should express our opinions. And not just a desire, but a responsibility, because art has an impact on people – they discuss the themes after the performance and those conversations may end up in the boardroom or the House of Commons. Dance can be very subtle and ambiguous, because of its non-verbal nature and I believe that can make a distinctive contribution.

Stuart: Tell us about the production and who will be involved from the various Chicken Shed groups.

Christine: This production features our adult company - we work on the production during the day and then many of the cast will deliver outreach programmes in the evenings. On-stage we have also brought in five of our youth theatre members, aged 16-17 and, on two rotas, 5 children between 7 and 10. They mainly feature at the end, when we look at positive options for the future and bring everyone together with our common humanity and let our souls fly. The children bring a real energy and innocence; not only on stage, but also in the workshop process and they have been inspirational. The teenagers bring a different energy, which we can harness for the production.

At Chicken Shed we do a lot of cross-age work, because it’s a real way of keeping honest and ensuring that you don’t get too carried away. They bring you back.

Stuart: I loved the ending where you had the young man with Down’s syndrome, who was not the victim, but the one helping an oppressed and injured character and thereby making a powerful statement against stereotyping. He also seems to be a great mover.

Christine: Phil Constantinou is not only a great mover, but also a great improviser. In a lot of our sessions he has been the stimulus for some of the choreography, which you see throughout the production. He’s amazing and has a real confidence with his body and being on-stage. We put Phil together with the other guy, Matthew, who also has an amazing stage presence, and a lot of what you see them do came from their improvisation sessions.

Globaleyes runs from 19th April to 28th May at Chicken Shed Theatre, Chase Side, Southgate, London N14. Performances are at 7.30 with Thursday matinees at 2.30. Ring the Box Office 020 8292 9222 for further details.

In June, “Globaleyes” transfers to Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Apr 21, 2005 1:10 am ]
Post subject: 

Caught this production last night - a fine show addressing key global issues and humanity, with exceptionally strong visuals, group choreography and integration across ages, shapes and sizes and performers with and without special needs. Amazing!

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Apr 28, 2005 3:31 am ]
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“Globaleyes”, Chicken Shed Theatre Company, The Rayne Theatre, N. London, 20th April 2005

Integrated dance, featuring a mix of performers with and without special needs, sometimes poses a difficult question for reviewers: should I take account of a worthy concept? In addition, works that address humanitarian issues raise another problem – whether to make allowances because of the nature of the themes addressed? Thus, Chicken Shed’s “Globaleyes” is doubly fraught - an integrated company taking globalisation, the environment and human rights as the foci for a theatrical presentation. The good news is that the risk has paid off and this revival of the production first seen in 2002 is a great success.

In fourteen scenes, a lot of ground is covered with material from a range of sources including Naomi Klein’s “No Logo”, Anita Roddick on third world development and Amnesty International for human rights. This mix could have proved indigestible, but by focusing on the impact of these issues on humanity, this unified approach keeps the work accessible and entertaining, without preaching.

There is much to savour in “Globaleyes” and a key element is the strong visual quality achieved by the Costume and Set Designer, Graham Hollick, Lighting Designer, Paul Knowles, and a number of contributing artists. This is particularly effective in the contrast between the second and third scenes. “Frantic” uses rolling tubular platforms crammed with up to thirty performers to simulate the crowded chaos of an urban existence that becomes ever more desperate. In the following scene, images of nature are projected onto long, narrow, silk strips to ambient music and slow dance; this arresting montage will stay with me for a long time.

Throughout, the choreography draws on modern dance and physical theatre and perhaps the differing heights and shapes of the performers, from tiny children to lanky guys, helped the choreographer, Christine Niering, to think spatially in new ways. In Chicken Shed’s trademark ensemble scenes, large groups cluster and disperse, climbing on each other’s shoulders or stretching on the ground, so that the full three-dimensional canvass of the stage is explored.

In one of the smaller scale sections, “Mother Twin”, a system of harnessing was developed at the suggestion of writer-in-residence, Paula Rees, who suffers from cerebral palsy. Linked to another dancer with tightly bound material, Paula is able to desert her wheelchair and fulfil her wish to move more freely. After this idea was used in the original production of “Globaleyes”, Company teachers visited Addis Ababa to work with local dancers and the harness concept was extended to dancers back-to-back, with one upside down. This results in innovative moves with extraordinary sculptural effects and rolling locomotion around the stage.

The issue of resource allocation is tackled with a single piece of chalk. Whoever has this can draw a circle for habitation. The group is at first relaxed and friendly, but as the chalk is passed around, areas of stage are carved out until the tallest character draws out a huge circle and banishes the others to tiny areas that can barely sustain life. Like much in this staging, a simple and effective device.

In this ensemble work, everyone plays his or her part:, but focusing on a few of the performers, the tall Loren Jacobs moves with grace and power and Sebastian Gonzalez, who I last saw as Peter Pan, again shows that he is a fine dancer/actor. Two performers with Downs Syndrome caught my eye: Hima Shah dances with fine musicality and Phil Constantinou is a great mover. In one of the final scenes of reconciliation and hope, Constantinou rescues Gonzalez from hopeless despair and strips away his outer layer of clothing, as if emerging from a chrysalis, so that he can take up his life again.

The Music Director, David Carey, has used a number of contributors and sources ranging from African rhythms to “cheap, tacky, end of the pier” for the comic scenes and even sampling from Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”. Overall the score works well alongside the drama and has enough musical and lyric interest to stand on its own. The band and sound design are to the highest professional standards.

When the performance ended, I needed a couple of minutes to regain composure before I could talk sensibly – it’s that powerful. “Globaleyes” follows in the noble tradition of Kurt Jooss’ “The Green Table”, Christopher Bruce’s “Swansong” and Darshan Singh Bhuller’s “Planted Seeds” in using dance and theatre to express ideas on conflict and exploitation and is one of the most potent and successful art works I’ll see this year. For dance fans and anyone concerned about the condition of the world it’s a must-see production.

Author: [ Wed May 04, 2005 5:48 am ]
Post subject:  "Globaleyes" Chicken Shed Theatre, 20th April 2005

Stuart has reviewed "Globaleyes" very fully, but I would just like to endorse what he says about it being a "must see" show. It really was an amazing evening of colour, vitality, great music, innovative and sometimes spectacular dance, illustrating a powerful human rights theme. Don't be put off by the Chicken Shed being at the end of the Picadilly line, - "Globaleyes" was worth every inch of the journey!

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri May 27, 2005 5:25 am ]
Post subject: 

By Peter Hepple for The Stage

First seen three years ago, Globaleyes has been updated to accommodate new world developments in the fields of confronting hunger, overproduction, global warming and so on. The lesson here, of course, is that little has changed for the better and in many instances is a good deal worse.

What does remain, however, is the knowledge that this is a a truly remarkable production from a company which seems able to produce top-flight actors, dancers, choreographers, writers and musicians almost at will and to find worthwhile scenarios within which to work.

click for more

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri May 27, 2005 5:31 am ]
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Today, Friday, 27th May and tomorrow are your last chances to see "Globaleyes" this time round in London.

Booking and other details here

However, those North of the Border have the chance to see this inspiring production in Edinburgh:


Wed 22nd at 7.30pm - Preview - all seats £5 (free to wearers of MakePovertyHistory wristbands)
Thu 23rd & Fri 24th at 7.30pm
Sat 25th at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Tue 28th - Thu 30th at 7.30pm

Fri 1st - Sat 2nd at 7.30pm

Booking and other details here

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Jul 27, 2005 12:36 am ]
Post subject: 

Globaleyes was well received in Edinburgh:

Absolute unity as an ensemble.
By Sarah Jane Murray for Edinburgh Guide

Scheduled to coincide with the Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh on the 2 July, Chicken Shed’s revived show Globaleyes acts as a timely creative response to issues currently boiling over the collective conscience. Originally performed to great acclaim over three years ago, Globaleyes is a collaborative performance piece which uses physical theatre to comment upon globalisation and resulting exploitation. Globaleyes urges its audience to value and - more poignantly - to celebrate human life.

A lone LCD monitor in the centre of the stage nonchalantly displays facts and figures about poverty and the environment. This narrative however cannot reach the audience as effectively as that offered by Paul Knowles’ powerful lighting design.

click for more


By JOYCE McMILLAN for The Scotsman

THIS spectacular Chicken Shed Company physical theatre show has been around since 2002, bringing the "eyes" of its multicultural community to bear on the new age of global politics in which we live. But it can rarely have seemed more timely than in this two-week run, scheduled to finish on the night of the Make Poverty History march next weekend.

Over 90 minutes of action the show leads us through 14 scenes designed to explore, through dance, movement, design and occasional words, an aspect of the current global crisis.

click for more

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