THE ACORN Theatre in Penzance recently hosted arts magazine the New Art Examiner’s Art Extravaganza. A satirical piece of theatre and overt, hard hitting protest on the culture of art politics and its corrupt influence on the Cornwall art scene, particularly in Newlyn, Penzance and St Ives.
The Acorn Theatre being once a Methodist Church but now slightly converted into a town theatre, is a convenient venue for such satire. It resonates with the expectations of a past generation with metal folding chairs from the sixties, cabaret style around square white tables. The audience downed pints while the New Art Examiner troupe exploded onto the stage with digs at the Turner Prize, off-the-shelf career paths, overblown marketing and incomprehensible art jargon.
The main actors, Daniel Nanavati (UK Editor), Maxine Symons (flaneuse), Dhyano Angius (media editor) – best remembered in St Ives for his work with Kulture Break in the ’00’s – Pep Morgas (Catalonian artiste) and Ken Turner (artist and writer) made the satire come alive, like a circus or county fair. There were moments of wild confusion and amusement, dis-jointed events and activities, which somehow all connected in the end like a perfectly cooked pastaciutta of performance art. The audience were left with a few questions about what is really happening in the art world, or rather, not happening.
The storyline of the first half was Jack, threatened with homelessness due to developers, being sent on a journey to become an artist by the Genie. He meets Old Sewell, a cat, a mealy-mouth curator, a friend who introduces him to a man from the Tate, and finally a marketing genius who makes him into a brand name. The second half takes us into his new factory floor studio where he stands by as everyone else does the work. The songs were delightful and sharp. The jokes plentiful.
The colpo di grazia (final attack) was the actors’ creation on the entire stage of an action painting directed by Ken Turner with the assistance of dancers Stephanie Richards and Justin Holland, which was then ceremoniously and to wild music, torn into pieces and given to the audience. Unbelievably to me they took the pieces home. Original souvenirs handled as if pieces of Turner’s artwork.
Most of the audience enjoyed the show, though there were a few sour faces who left straight away and with no comment, at least at the show. The Acorn were delighted and hoped to see the troupe again and a few commented that it was good to see political satire was not dead.
The film of the Art Extravaganza will be edited by Ken Turner and Hew Wohl and be available on YouTube and from www.newartexaminer.net by the New Year.
Pendery Weekes Reprinted from the St Ives Times & Echo 05.01.2018
Volume 32 no 4 March/April 2018 p 36