Stars of stage sculpt artistic drama

Stars of stage sculpt artistic drama

Louise Jury, Chief Arts Correspondent
Drama Queens

STARS of the visual arts and theatre have united for the British premiere of a short play at the Old Vic in which sculptures were brought to life.

A cast featuring Kevin Spacey, Joseph Fiennes and Jeremy Irons gave voice to half a dozen modern sculptures including works by Sol Lewitt, Jeff Koons and Giacometti which were remote-controlled on stage.

The performance, devised by artists Elmgreen and Dragset, heralds a run of shows opening alongside the Frieze Art Fair. Elmgreen and Dragset have a show at the Victoria Miro Gallery.




Sol Lewitt and Barbara Hepworth flirt at the Old Vic

Bravo to the Old Vic for presenting one of the most weird and wonderful British premieres I’ve seen in quite some time.

Drama Queens, the brainchild of German artists Elmgreen and Dragset, presented five remote-controlled sculptures on stage with the actors providing a live voiceover from the sidelines.

Joseph Fiennes played an abstract, angular sculpture by Sol Lewitt flirting monstrously with a Barbara Hepworth sculpture played by Lesley Manville.

Spacey himself gave voice to an infuriatingly chatty silver rabbit based on the famous work by the American Jeff Koons. Jeremy Irons played Giacometti’s tall thin walking man while Alex Jennings voiced a solid granite oh-so-Germanic untitled block inspired by the German artist Ulrick Ruckriem.

The unique performance at the Old Vic served as a prelude to what will be one of the biggest weeks in the visual arts calendar with a massive run of exhibitions opening in London alongside the Frieze Art Fair. Elmgreen and Dragset have their own show at the Victoria Miro Gallery which has been turned into a dark gay club….

The evening was also a major fund-raiser for the Old Vic. The theatre hopes to use the proceeds to initiate a new wave of collaborations between the worlds of art and theatre modelled on those already seen in dance and visual arts with the likes of Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan working together at the National Theatre. It’s an idea with mileage.

As Kevin Spacey, the theatre’s artistic director, told me: “It’s a unique opportunity to merge these two areas of cultural life that rarely come together and, by coming together, show how much we have in common.”

The evening certainly won major art world support with the likes of Sir Nicholas Serota and Serpentine head Julia Peyton-Jones, artists including Tracey Emin, Isaac Julien and Peter Doig, the designer Ron Arad, and a multitude of top collectors including Anita Zabludowicz and the American Doug Cramer, producer of TV hits such as The Love Boat.

Fiennes said he took part because he was a big supporter of the Old Vic and: “I read the piece and it made me laugh.”

Irons added: “Arts and theatre are two rather separate worlds at the moment and they shouldn’t be.”

An auction at the VIP party at the Victoria Miro Gallery afterwards raised thousands more pounds for the Old Vic. The eventual total will include £25,000 for an Elmgree and Dragset sculptor and another £10,000 bid by the artist Chantal Joffe for a suite of drawings by Tracey Emin recording the madcap evening.

Congratulations to the lot of them.

Here’s a video of a previous production of ‘Drama Queens’ to give you an idea what the show is like:


Jeremy, Kevin Spacey and others were also seen at the Victoria Miro Gallery for the VIP afterparty and auction.  Photos can be viewed here:  WENN Photo Library