Rhinoceros, ‘Fanny’s Meadow’ 2018
‘Rhinoceros’ is play by Eugene Ionesco, written in 1959. The play is a post-war avant-garde absurdist drama. It is often read as a response and criticism to the sudden upsurge of Fascism during the events preceding World War 2, and explores the themes of conformity, culture, fascism, responsibility, logic mass movements, mob mentality, philosophy and morality.
As a Stray Dog Production, Actors and Musicians performed ‘Rhinoceros’ at The Jam Factory in Dorset in 2018. The staging of the performance developed from Sagman’s set design, which created an ‘in the round’ experience.
The production was then invited to an outdoor venue at ‘Fanny’s Meadow’ music festival in Somerset. For this, the opportunity was taken to create a 2nd set to free-stand in a field. The actors and musicians then had the opportunity to interact with the natural environment and in some instances, bands that were playing nearby!
Chamber Music, The Jam Factory 2014
Chamber Music is a 1962 one-act play by absurdist playwright Arthur Kopit. The story is set in 1938 and concerns eight famous women from different historical periods who are all interned in the same insane asylum. The women are author Gertrude Stein, martyr Joan of Arc, activist Susan B. Anthony, politician Queen Isabella of Spain, Constance Mozart, wife of famed composer, pilot Amelia Earhart, silent film actress Pearl White, and explorer OSA Johnson. The play is meant to symbolise the sexist and unjust treatment of women throughout history.
In the summer of 2014, Actors from the ‘Sinistre’ theatre company came together with director Gail Sagman of Stray Dog Productions, at the Jam Factory in Dorset, England, to create their production of Chamber Music. The show followed faithfully Arthur Kopit’s original script, within a stylised setting.
Chamber Cases, Prague 2015
The following summer, the troupe were invited to perform by Linharts Foundation at their NOD venue in Prague, Czech Republic. This was a part of a broader show called ‘Suitcases of Discontent’, designed by Sagman. It involved artists from both countries creating works in ‘Cabin Bag’ sized suitcases on the theme of Discontent. In this instance, ‘Chamber Music’ was adapted to become ‘Chamber Cases’, with the actors by now, highly elaborate costumes contained in their individual cases.
Alongside the other exhibits, the actors dressed in the gallery setting and then led the audience through to the theatre space. Within the latter, the performers portrayed a highly charged version of the Kopit text.
‘From the Absurd to the Ridiculous’, The Jam Factory 2010
Due to the success of the previous year‘s show, ‘The Absurdist Absurdity’ Sagman decided to up the anti, and take it to The Ridiculous. Again, many participants brought their angle to the theme, and the individual installations had the effect of a highly original, high energy fairground romp at The Jam Factory.
‘The Absurdist Absurdity’, The Jam Factory 2009
With a strong sense of the absurd, Gail decided that the theme of ‘The Absurdist Absurdity’, was ideal for the inaugural show at The Jam Factory on the Dorset/Devon border. She invited locals and artists from elsewhere to contribute their work on the subject.
This included painters, sculptors, musicians, poets and actors from as far afield as Spain and Italy, who performed to a large and appreciative audience.