Review of the 1st preview of Awkward Turtle Flips the Bird:

Theatre in Wales-
'Terry Victor, Notional Theatre’s Artistic Director and deviser of this presentation is obviously a man who loves words and playing with them. This close interest in words is illustrated by the fact that he has co-edited three dictionaries, comprehensive dictionaries of Slang. He describes his first intention with this production as a unique attempt to stage a dictionary but in fact there are very few words in this experimental work. The main methods of communication are gestures, some very familiar and some new ones that most people are not aware of. That bird flipping awkward turtle for instance. A curious image, on land turtles certainly look awkward creatures and flipping birds, well it might be possible but very unlikely. However an Awkward Turtle is gesture in which one hand is placed on top of the other with the fingers bent. It refers apparently to embarrassing or awkward circumstances. Flip the bird is the very well known single finger gesture that needs no explanation.

This is a well-finessed piece of work; Victor has brought many highly skilled and established professionals to aid him in this lively Chapter-partnered theatrical experiment. Earthfall’s Jessica Cohen, International fight director Cardiff -based Kevin McCurdy, music by Gareth Wyn Griffiths and many others. He has produced a sharp production and is served brilliantly by his actors who bring an imagination and commitment to the work that is of the finest quality. The three female actors in their simple black, Gemma Prangle, Victoria Tyrrell and Angharad Berrow are all very compelling, good fun and strike up a warm relationship with the audience. Lloyd Grayshon, a master magician character, presides with an endearing majesty.

There are three large wire cages in the three corners of the room; each member of the trio from time to time go into them, they become animated sculptures, dynamic museum displays. But it is out of the cage where they convey emotions and interact with the audience that they give us their most lively and engaging performances. Any experiment, by its nature is a work in progress and there are many directions this work could follow. As a work playing with lights, screens, cages, mechanical music and live actors it demonstrates that a theatrical experiment performed with a gentle flourish can be both interesting and exciting. '

Michael Kelligan, Theatre in Wales
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Awkward Turtle Flips the Bird is a multi-media exploration of gestural slang as immersive theatre and gallery installation: physical-verbatim theatre, by turns playful, dark, romantic, surprising and dangerous, blending live action with documentary visuals in a series of free events throughout the afternoon and evening.
The Awkward Turtle Flips the Bird project is conceived and directed by Terry Victor with choreography by Rob McNeill. Hundreds of everyday gestures, familiar and fanciful, dance through their fractured narratives. This is thought to be the first time anyone has ever attempted to stage a dictionary…

The notion of staging some form of dictionary has challenged our Artistic Director for a number of years. The two main threads in his professional life are creative performance and slang linguistics - the gestural vocabulary of slang is where they meet and the sparks fly.

The initial idea was simply to develop an online moving-image glossary of slang gestures as a form of digital theatre. A loose form of AWKWARD TURTLE FLIPS THE BIRD was conceived and rehearsed in 5 days and performed in 15 minutes at the Weston Studio in November 2011; created in collaboration with dancer/choreographer, Rob McNeill, and developed under the aegis of the Incubator Project at WMC.

AWKWARD TURTLE FLIPS THE BIRD, now a full-length piece of multi-media physical-verbatim theatre
and a one-on-one live-action installation, will be presented at Chapter Arts in Cardiff on June 22nd 2013

Notional Theatre’s ongoing development of gestural slang as a performance language - the literal digital choreography of our lives - is supported by the Arts Council of Wales.
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