Synopsis of the Ballet Black 2018 Double Bill

2018 Autumn Double Bill UK Tour

Below is a synopsis of the current programme. The suggested age rating of this programme is 12+

The Suit

Director/Choreographer: Cathy Marston

As part of Ballet Black’s latest bill, Cathy Marston, renowned for her expressive and beautifully crafted work, choreographs a new narrative ballet based on Can Themba’s South African fable The Suit.

Synopsis of The Suit

Matilda and Philemon are married and live in Sophiatown, a suburb of Johannesburg. One morning, Philemon gets up as ever, going through his morning ritual, preparing breakfast in bed for Matilda before heading off to catch the bus to work. No sooner is Philemon on his way, than Simon, Matilda’s lover, comes into the house.

At the bus stop, Philemon realises he has left his briefcase behind. He returns home. There he discovers Matilda in bed with another man. Simon jumps out of the window, leaving behind his suit. Matilda begs Philemon for forgiveness. He tells her to take care of the Suit, takes his briefcase and goes to work.

At dinner that evening, Philemon insists that the Suit sits down to dinner with them and that Matilda must treat it as an honoured guest. That night Matilda cannot sleep, her dreams haunted by the Suit.

The following morning the daily ritual is played out, but now with the Suit as a guest. When they go for a walk in the park, Philemon insists the Suit accompanies them. In the park, Matilda is overcome with shame and tries to keep the Suit hidden from the eyes of passers-by.

Nearby a band strikes up and people start to dance. Matilda persuades Philemon to dance with her. For a moment it feels as though their marriage is as it was. But when the next dance begins Philemon insists that Matilda now dances with the Suit. She does so until she can bear it no longer and she runs back home.

At home she tries to destroy the Suit but finds she can’t. Philemon returns to find his wife dead. He is left alone with the Suit.


A Dream Within A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2014)

Director/Choreographer: Arthur Pita

Completing the evening is Arthur Pita’s A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream, a heady piece of dance-theatre for which the Portuguese choreographer earned an Olivier nomination following its premiere. Described as a ‘sexy, cheeky frolic’ by, the production mixes the classical and contemporary to distil the essence of Shakespeare’s comedy, unfolding to an eclectic soundtrack that includes Eartha Kitt, Barbra Streisand and Yma Sumac. Performing it, ‘the company have never looked better’ (Independent).

Five questions with Arthur Pita…

How faithful is your version to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

AP: It’s not faithful but it’s certainly inspired by the world of Shakespeare’s Dream. As it’s a dance theatre piece – it’s already removed from the play. It’s an adaptation on the idea, hence the title. The images of the narrative are there in a way, but the journey to them is different.

What inspired you to make this ballet?

AP: I had just come out of doing a darker piece prior to working with Ballet Black. So I felt the need to do something lighter and have some fun with the dancers. I have always loved A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I played the Indian boy way back in the English National Opera production of The Fairy Queen and remember thinking how well the narrative lent itself to dance and music. Shakespeare provides much mischief and glorious images to play with, yet there is an honesty in all of the characters’ desires. It also helped immensely that while we were in the creation process in July 2013, we were experiencing a very hot summer, so it felt like it was in the air.

Can you tell us more about your musical choices for the ballet?

AP: The brief to myself was that the choices of music be surprising and still serve the narrative. So I decided to find songs that would help suggest the scene or where the lyrics would poetically describe the emotions of the characters e.g. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by Rogers and Hart from Pal Joey seemed to fit as a Titania song. I also wanted to juxtapose the songs with something more traditional in a ballet setting, which is what brought me to Handel’s Sarabande.

Was this the first time you had worked with ballerinas in tutus? AP: Yes, and was exciting as at that point in the history of Ballet Black, tutus had not be worn. So it was a first for all of us! I am totally fascinated by the laws of the tutu and how they marry to a balletic vocabulary. It was wonderful to collaborate with designer Jean-Marc Puissant who has such vast knowledge about tutus. In the tutu fittings it was amazing to see how even millimetres make a difference to dancer’s line.

What is your favourite quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

AP:If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumbered here While these visions did appear” Puck