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Head South for a contemporary vision of our society



Preview by Paul Nelson

VAYU Naidu is a remarkable writer and compelling storyteller. She has teamed up with Orphy Robinson, a jazz musician and one of the most exciting performers of the marimba to emerge on the international jazz scene for years, to create a remarkable revival of a lost art form.

The result is Vayu Naidu Company's new creation South, directed by Chris Banfield, a visually stunning piece of cross-genre theatre, which draws on multi-cultural inspiration to make compelling storytelling theatre that weaves narrative with live music and dance.

South will make its London debut at the Purcell Room, Royal Festival Hall, on May 27, prior to a national tour.

South is storytelling at its finest, based on traditional myths and legends, told in a modern context, which delivers a contemporary vision of our multicultural society in a witty approachable form.

Offering an exploration of how the cardinal directions influence people culturally and emotionally, South is a unique cross-art production, with the action portrayed by three dancers blending contemporary and south Indian (bharata natyam) moves set to lively, original, percussive and computer-generated music.

Storyteller and artistic director of the Vayu Naidu Company, dedicated to new writing for theatre and performing storytelling with new composers, Vayu Naidu is a distinguished and prolific writer.

Her plays and new work includes There Comes a Karma, directed by Vanessa Whitburn (BBC Radio 4 Drama short listed for the Richard Imison Award for best new writing for radio); Playboy of the Asian World, directed by Nona Shepphard and commissioned and produced by Leicester Haymarket Theatre; Nine Nights, directed by Chris Banfield and also commissioned and produced by Leicester Haymarket Theatre; When, directed by Vanessa Whitburn, BBC Radio 4 Drama; Future Perfect (2000), storytelling performance, director/composer Judith Weir, which toured nationally as part of the Contemporary Music Network, and in 2002 did an All-India British Council Tour in collaboration with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group; When Shakespeare Met Kali, directed by Nona Shepphard as part of the Soho Theatre Shorts.

Her new commission by BBC Radio 4, Guess Who's Coming to Christmas? directed by Vanessa Whitburn, will be broadcast in 2003.

Jamaican-born Orphy Robinson is renowned as a brilliant jazz musician/composer combining jazz, contemporary classical, African, funk and improvised music.

He has composed scores for film, television and commercials and later this year, he is undertaking a commission for the Royal Opera House.

Orphy, a past winner of a British Jazz Award's Best Newcomer, also won subsequent awards for Best Miscellaneous Instrumentalist at the BBC Jazz Awards.

He is to be heard playing on award winning albums by Courtney Pine, Andy Sheppard, Jazz Warriors, Jazz Jamaica, Shivanova and has consistently been nominated during his career for many such awards.

He has performed with such luminaries as Don Cherry, Lester Bowie, David Murray, Butch Morris and Henry Threadgill. Orphy has gone on to share billing with musicians that include John Scofield, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, The Brecker Brothers, Cassandra Wilson, Joe Lavano, Nina Vasconcelles, Evan Parker and Ravi Shankar.

South by Vayu Naidu Company, Directed by Chris Banfield with Orphy Robinson and members of the Vayu Naidu Company on National Tour.
Dates of interest to Indielondon subscribers: May 27 (Purcell Room, Royal Festival Hall, London, 020 7960 4242), June 7 (The Croydon Clocktower, 020 8253 1030), June 14 (Watermans Arts Centre, Brentford, 020 8232 1010), July 9-10 (Linbury Studio, Theatre Royal Opera House, London, 020 7304 4000).

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