Materials For a Small Winter
- Kelly Apter
- 3 July 2008
CCA, Glasgow, Sat 12 Jul
The teenage years can feature some pivotal moments. For choreographer Angus Balbernie it was the discovery of Malcolm Lowry’s 1947 novel Under the Volcano, widely regarded as one of the great literary works of the 20th century.
Balbernie’s life-long love of Lowry has inspired a quintet of dance theatre pieces created over the past five years, the latest of which is Materials For a Small Winter. ‘I’ve always loved Lowry’s work,’ explains Balbernie. ‘I discovered Under the Volcano when I was a teenager and was just fascinated by him as a writer. And then I read a biography about his extraordinary life – his fantasy world, his alcoholism and how he ended up living in a ruined fisherman’s stilt house in Vancouver. He was a remarkable writer who led a remarkable life.’
The show also features another of Balbernie’s great passions, which he has moulded to fit Lowry’s story. ‘I’ve had a lifetime’s addiction to film noir,’ he says. ‘Once I found out that Lowry’s second wife was a failed Hollywood starlet, I turned her into a failed film noir starlet and used that in the concept of the piece.’
Featuring choreography, film footage, text and a live soundscape, Materials For a Small Winter reaches beyond Lowry and film noir into even darker territory – abuse. ‘I’ve never been accused of making light work,’ says Balbernie. ‘And abuse in its many forms is a dominant theme in many areas of life, while Lowry, as an alcoholic, was the archetypal self-abusing artist.’