Vivi Bayliss' Ten Most Memorable Shows.

Midlands-based Vivi Bayliss has put together a list of 10 of the most memorable shows for her. As a theatre maker, Vivi has a huge variety of interests, but a lot of her directing work up to this point has been in an opera. A genre of theatre she kind of fell into when she was 18 and has steadily fallen in love with.  She's very young to be working in opera, a "young artist" in this genre can easily be around 30 years old. Vivi Bayliss has also undertaken a lot of directing work with youth companies, including British Youth Music Theatre and currently resident in a school, which is an interesting experience for her professionally. Most of her development has been training on the job or practising through the societies at my university has resulted in an experience that is very specific to her. 

As a choreographer, a lot of her work is in physical theatre, one of her favourites being a production of Road by Jim Cartwright. Vivi is fascinated by combining movement with other art forms to harness its narrative potential. Another huge part of her work is devised theatre. There was a stretch of around two years where she didn't work on any scripted productions, it's a method of theatre-making she is really passionate about. 

Here are 10 memorable shows that she'd like to share with us, enjoy!


William Shakespeare's 'King John' at the RSC. 

I saw this production when I was a teenager growing up in Stratford and grabbing £5 tickets to see anything and everything at the RSC put out. This meant there were some hits and some misses. This was definitely one of the hits. So vibrant and energetic, the 800-year-old king and his circle become more instantly relatable and engaging. I was sucked right into the world that Maria Aberg created, and she has been one of my favourite directors ever since. 



'Othello' by Frantic Assembly

I saw this on its 2014 tour and it absolutely blew my mind. Othello was already one of my favourite plays and Frantic Assembly a favourite company, but this production showed me something new in a story I knew so well. It felt so raw and you could feel the tension bubbling just under the surface the whole way through. Cassio's drunkenness and Desdemona's death still stand out in my mind. The combination of classic text and Frantic's signature movement worked so well. 

Watch the 'Othello' trailer here.


'Hamilton' by Lin-Manuel Miranda

I knew I loved this show long before I saw it. I played the soundtrack on repeat for months, but it was even better live. I can't lie, I actually cried during "My Shot" because I was so happy. Again, it created an infectious energy, I really got swept up in their revolution. The hip hop movement language felt both rough and refined and there's a lot more comedy in the show than I expected. It's a show that felt huge in scope but also had the capacity to zoom in on the tiny details and that takes real skill.

Watch the trailer for the smash-hit musical, Hamilton here.


'Come From Away'' by Irene Sankoff and David Hein

When I came out of the theatre, this felt like it was the best show I'd ever seen. It really shook up what a musical can be. With the movement language of a physical theatre play and strong folk influences in the music, this was not showy or big, but profoundly affected me. I cried on and off for the whole show. With multi-rolling and direct address, this was the story of a community, not a set of characters. My stand out moment will always be the praying.

Watch the trailer for the incredible musical Come From Away here


'Badass Be Thy Name' by Police Cops

This is the third hit show for the trio at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. I saw their second show, "Police Cops in Space" in 2018 and fell in love with their absurd, chaotic style, but I think "Badass" is better. Delightfully self-aware, consistently surprising and bizarre, but occasionally heartfelt, it made me uncontrollably cackle in my seat and I think that's a pretty good thing to aim for. 

Have a look at an interview about Police Cop's work here


'Volpone' by Ben Jonson at the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

Another one from my teenage "any and all" theatre visits and another hit. The production didn't try to be any more or anyt less than the script required but was excellent fun. What really makes this show stick in my mind is the central performance given by Henry Goodman. From the second he opened his mouth I was transfixed. I think it was the first time I saw what truly excellent acting was. 

Take a look at the trailer for Volpone here


'Grounded' by George Brant

Originated at the Gate Theatre in London and seen on tour at The Theatre, Chipping Norton, this show was a bit different. A monologue about a female fighter pilot operating drones, it was so understated at the start, but son elegantly crafted that you were on the edge of the seat by the finale. It was a real thinker and caught my imagination in a different way. The set was also fantastic - mesh cube set in thrust with no exit.

Watch the trailer of Grounded here


'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two' by Jack Thorne

Technically, this is two plays, but you have to see both parts, you just do. Much has been made of #KeepTheSecret so no spoilers here, but they really do create magic onstage, so much so that I audibly gasped at just a costume change. The movement is created by Frantic Assembly's Steven Hoggett, so is predictably excellent, and the theatrical approach means that the focus of the script is shifted away from the much-debated film plot, to the thematic core of father-son relationships. 

Watch the trailer of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two here


'STOMP'

I finally saw Stomp in the West End about a week before it closed, and then a few months later again on tour. A series of vignettes with no dialogue, just percussion and movement, it's so hard to describe why it's so brilliant. It's innovative, it's infectious and also it's really funny. It's just pure joy and you're just desperate to know what they're going to do next. 

Watch a trailer for STOMP here


'Rooster' by Christopher Bruce, performed by Rambert

I saw the original performance of this dance piece on film while I was at school, and got to see a revival live on tour at The Rep, Birmingham. I love it because it feels like a relatable professional dance. It uses popular music, specifically Rolling Stones, but reaches to their essence and weaves narratives from them. Such simple motifs become intricate and elaborate sequences. The costumes are delightful and it's so playful.

Watch the trailer for Rooster here

A special mention to some of my favourite plays I've seen online, before and during this lockdown time, for making high-quality theatre accessible to all. My top 5: Othello at the National Theatre starring Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear; One Man, Two Guv'nors at the National Theatre starring James Corden; I and You by Laura Gunderson at Hampstead Theatre, Flowers for Mrs Harris at Chichester Festival Theatre and Bandstand The Musical, directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler. 






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