Interview: Donald Hutera - on GOlab at GOLive

Friday 5 September 2014 by Donald Hutera

Florencia Guerberof

Having launched in September 2013 as a 21-day marathon, then returning last spring in a more selective ‘headliners plus special guests’ format, the GOlive Dance and Performance Festival is back in yet another guise. Hosted once again by the Giant Olive Theatre, located above the Lion and Unicorn pub in Kentish Town, founder/curator/journalist Donald Hutera is calling this edition ‘GOlab’. He tells us why…

What makes this GOlive different from previous versions?
The major change is that the majority of the programme consists of works-in-progress, hence the little joke subtitle GOlab. Things will be more stripped-back and, at the same time, laboratorial than was the case before. Almost none of the work I’m presenting can be considered finished. Instead the artists I’ve got on board are keen to test out new ideas in a relatively safe, risk-free environment. And I’m happy to help them do that in whatever ways I can, mainly because I want to build potentially long-term relationships between them and GOlive.

Could you be more specific?
Sure! Let’s start with Lorna V, a writer and budding performer as well as a former Time Out colleague. Lorna’s dream has been to write a one-woman show set within London’s tango community. To that end she’s come up with three distinct, somewhat damaged yet endearing and even comic female characters – wallflowerish Denise, the more brazen Kirsty (also known as ‘Kissy’) and a language-mangling teacher named Aliki. I’m spending a mere five afternoons in the theatre with her mapping out their physical and emotional journeys – directing her, really. It’s been a joy discovering in detail just who these richly-written women are. Lorna has five dates within the festival to let them loose.

You’ve mentioned directing. Might that also entail dance dramaturgy?
Exactly. I’ve been watching and writing about – or analysing – dance and live performance for three decades-plus. I think I’ve developed some sound instincts for what does or maybe doesn’t work in a performance context. I’d certainly welcome more opportunities to use my knowledge and experience to help artists clarify what they’re trying to express – like a highly curious yet respectfully caring guide. And so I’ve arranged to spend time in the theatre with several pairs of ‘makers’ (Benjamin Shepherd and Katie Webster, Paul Sadot and Lisa Rowley, Vanio Papadelli and Tania Batzoglou) as a mentor or feedback-giver. It’s an exciting prospect. I also want to involve the public in the process, and am therefore planning to lead post-show discussions every night if possible.

Any other GOlive/GOlab highlights?
Plenty! There’s a work-in-progress from Marina Collard, whose collaboration with the film-maker Tom Paine was a highlight of the first GOlive. Peta Lily will try to revive her 20 year-old, neo-Shakespearean seven-hander The Porter’s Daughter as a one-woman show. I love that Jennifer Jackson and Sarah Kent, two other very differently-seasoned mature women, will share a bill; one’s beautifully ballet-trained, the other a defiantly fearless and funny improviser. The DIY designer/performer Mamoru Iriguchi will try out some ideas, no doubt with his usual dry wit. There’ll be dance and live music too. Florencia Guerberof is teaming up with the Iranian daf player Ali Nourbakhsh, while Nuno Silva will dance and sing fado supported by musician Sabio Janiak. I also must mention a quietly wonderful piece by Angela Woodhouse, first seen at a couple of my Chelsea Arts Collective pop-up nights in May and featuring Vanio Papadelli and a mirror. It’s a beaut!

How are you managing to make GOlive work, and what’s in store for the future?
I’m currently doing this independent of any kind of funding or subsidy and completely thanks to the generosity of Giant Olive’s founder, George Sallis, and the kick we both get out of where GOlive could go. Actually it’s going to Winchester! George and I are hatching a pilot project with Anthony Dean (Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University) this very month. On September 16th we’ll present to incoming students – and any other interested parties – the work of Nuno and Sabio, Mamoru, Sarah, Hayley Barker (an arrestingly quirky associate artist of The Point, Eastleigh who was also part of the inaugural GOlive) and Debbie Lee-Anthony, who teaches at the Uni and is also presenting her interactive solo (called A nice little project ) in London. I guess all that’s left to say is stay tuned for more news from both locations.

GOlab at GOlive: 7, 9, 10, 13, 14 15, 19, 20, 21 September at 7.30pm
Admission is by donation (£5 suggested) but all are welcome.
Giant Olive Theatre, The Lion & Unicorn pub, 42-44 Gaisford Street, Kentish Town, London NW5 2ED
Full details in our listings and at or via Twitter @GiantOlive and Facebook.

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