Category Archives: Summer 2015

The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads

Image: The Amazing Snakeheads, © Gavin Watson. Image available here.

Author: Miljan Micakovic

The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads (2014)

The very first impression that comes up when you listen to the album of this Glaswegian band is very simple – it is raw. By that I do not mean to say that the music or the sound is unfinished. On the contrary, there is not an instrument, a word, a note too much.

Their style is very difficult to classify; a mixture of punk, rock’n’roll, ballads. One can even say they have a sound of their own, while the arrangement remains classic: guitar, drums, bass, and voice. In addition to their trio, a saxophone and a feminine voice emerge to add an unexpected texture. In other words, as they say it themselves, they do not try to be somebody else. They do not see themselves as professional musicians, and indeed the voice sounds at times unmusical, the instruments simplistic.

The voice is harsh, the drums marching, the bass low and full, and the guitar piercing. Together they form a unique configuration that slowly drags you into an irritating atmosphere. Although it may seem repulsing, the songs, slowly and softly following one after each other, start to cleanse your anxiety.

The song order is, indeed, rightly chosen, alternating aggression with softness, distortion with clarity. The lyrics are hopelessly charged with emotions and passion. The themes chosen by the trio appear various and sometimes mysterious; vampires, nightlife, love, memories… In addition, the lyrics are scarce, which, altogether, lull you into making sense of each word – each syllable.

The whole album feels refreshing in the end. As a rough diamond, it contains a value despite its appearance. However it does not need refining. Accustomed to over-furnished songs, your ears will start to focus on the core of the melody, rhythm, and lyrics. Each part of the sound they created has its significance and is rightly balanced to give a bursting, soothing sound, sucking all your attention. I highly recommend to listen to the whole album at once. The experience only makes sense when the band guides you through their songs and force you into a realm you usually refuse to discover.

Poems by Miljan Micakovic

Image: The Red Horseman, © Carlo Carrà. Image available here.

Author: Miljan Micakovic

Poems

Under the Olive Tree

(After Babel’s rabbi Osii)

My life earned treasure offered to my sons,
Hopes and fears invade my weary mind,
Will I see their success while turning blind?
Betrayed, shunned, and burnt solely by my suns?

A passionate heart to my woman I gave.
Not only wife, nor life-long living friend,
She pumped, for I survived until the end.
How I could be the man I am so brave?

To you my Faith, my Hopes, Oh, all have gone.
Although I called; Although I’d almost lost…
I wrongly wondered God, you wouldn’t spawn.

The soil that raised, the state that brought me up,
I served, I paid for rights and liberty.
I own myself and drink in my own cup.

All of this, All around; I won’t be free.
I’ve just a place under an olive tree.


 

Red Blacks

Taken, broken, chased, beaten
Sold, bought, traded, whipped,
Raped, killed, bred, shipped,

Betrayed, burnt, shut, stolen,
Judged, used, kept, crushed,
Shot, locked, hit, robbed,

Lynched, arrested, sent, shaken
Stripped, accused, mocked, mobbed,
Bent, corrupted, tricked, fucked,

And lived.


 

The English Professor

(For Digby Thomas)

Neat and clean, a handsome bear.
Arrived on time, and set his mind.
Plain and strong was his speech,
while standing fierce and bound
to the ground, to the stage of sounds.

Not a word too fast, not a sign too loose,
He could whisper, yet all was bold.
Even silence made us change our thought.

And yet, the awful end had to come,
Shrill ringing made him stop;
His eyes fixed, and ready to leave,
While we always longed for more.


Rhetoric

Nothing has to do with being right;
Neither you nor I decide it.
What then does set the light?
Asking questions, watching not to spit?

Damn those Greeks, giving their ????,
Drinking wine; inventors of the lounge
Where the laziest and cruellest drinks vodka,
Tasteless, hollow fluid, making you scrounge.

Then fights, so proud of his moves,
leaving the victim, living the dream,
Marching like a needle in the grooves,
As sweet as taking a child’s ice-cream.

The birth, the child, the parents behind them,
All know there’s something out of rhetoric’s stem.


The Student at the Window

She had a pale face, blond hair;
Sitting, she looked at the bad weather,
Despite the rain, she offered a glare.

It was as strong as her will,
‘Cause she wanted a day without rain,
Movement without sound, light in her heart.

Then, slowly, the dark clouds disappeared,
And her face became warm,
And like the dawn her hair was shining.


A Humiliation

Let him beat the shit out of me,
Put me in his mould of depravation
And I, barely breathing under his fists,
will only passively face my injury.

Let him command and rule all the space,
Pour concrete on my bare skin,
A raging glare writing his strength,
while I offer my face, a white page.

Let him set dawn, dusk, light, and darkness,
Crease my skin with his red eraser,
Decide my wakening, the last beam of light,
I’ll wander, yet with no feet under my head.

For I do not abide by time and space,
My only kin is the metal of a Calder.


Eye Contact

How interestingly walking down the streets
Brings nothing but a constant breeze,
People, wind, pass by looking away,
Yet near and firm around your gaze.

All the sudden, as your eye beams
A darker shade, a black hollow ring
Around its frame, All the sudden,
Straight as thunder does everyone glare.

There true faces, such glimmering balls,
Bouncing from side to side, Breaking
The shimmering glass of indifference,
The distance that makes us individuals.

No longer every move blows its air,
But all is centred on our share.


Computer Writing (more or less)

Typing, typing down the screen,
Fingers push not an inch of ink.
Words are formed, regular and bold,
But who’ll give them a soul?

I see, you sit, proud of your bright,
Shining fruit, proud of nothing else,
But sharing a common, colourless tool.
Are you only a shape in the mist?

When at school, your small lines desired,
Round and straight, folded with your art,
Such unique were these tiny scribbles,
Were you ashamed, or else betrayed?

No led, no screen will belong to you,
While you vanish under the computer writing.

Sort of Poems

Image: © brewbooks on Flickr.

Author: Céline Stegmüller

Despite knowing you for many years

I rushed into your life like

a comet rushes through the sky;

Like a comet, driven by its fire.

 

I rushed into your life

maybe too fast, maybe too much. Light or fire?

I rushed into your life

supposing you’d be happier.

 

Like a comet driven by its fire

Light, like sudden realization.

It seemed to me only right

that I should rush into your life.

 

I’ve been here silent,

watching you from far away

And suddenly you looked at me

And I fell from the sky.

 

You had me falling for you

But am I burning too bright?

?

*****************

People around

 

I have people

surrounding me

stories

mixing, twirling, screaming

a whole lot of silences

dying to be heard.

Thoughts drowning in ink,

paper hugging lives.

 

I follow the wind

I drink sunset light

reflection

on the lake’s mirror.

Short Stories To Shklovsky

Image: © John Schultz, www.flickr.com

Author: Sandrine Spycher

INEBRIATING LOVE

You know that feeling when your heart starts beating faster, when your sight almost fails you, and you can’t speak properly anymore. And then you start smiling stupidly at whatever people tell you. And you’re feeling good, although slightly dizzy. Your world is balancing back and forth, as if you were on a boat swinging to the rhythm of an Ed Sheeran tune. Perhaps you’ll even start dancing soon. There’s something like a sweet vibe going through your body, from head to toe. And it’s a delight to let it move you. Let it take control of you, just as if nothing else mattered in the world. Then perhaps you’ll close your eyes for a minute and slowly breathe in.

Breathe in to regain control of yourself. And when you open your eyes, you’ll see them laughing at you because you can’t stand straight anymore. That’s when you know that last glass was just the one too many. So stop drinking. And try not to aim for anyone’s shoes when you have to throw up.

So did you think I was describing love?

Well perhaps there’s a link between drinking and love. Perhaps it’s not impossible to find your soul-mate at the English Christmas Party. And perhaps you’ll feel the fast heartbeats and the dizziness when you wake up “on the right side of the wrong bed” on the next morning.

GREEN INNOCENCE

I saw them come, with their dreadful roars and menacing moves. They advanced, weapons in hand, their eyes concealed behind their huge limbs which kept moving forward in big threatening gestures. I could already feel the heat of their horrible hearts approaching.

I called to the wind to help me raise my voice. And I cried for help but no one heard. I saw my brethren fall before me as I stood, a powerless witness to this mass murder. I heard the scratching and crackling of torn skin. I saw feathers fly away and wished I could move. But my symbiosis with the land—that which I thought would protect me against wind, rain, and storms—seemed to be the ally of my enemy, conspiring for my fall.

When they were finally on me, the saw cut through my skin and my body. I fell heavily to the once cherished earth. I was cut in two pieces, my heart still beating where my roots clung to the ground. And that’s when I noticed my little friend, that innocent baby Jaguar fighting his way away from the war engines.

He ran as fast as he could. He climbed on my sisters to hide in between their leaves. He trembled with fear as he saw his mother slain at my foot. He cried his little heart out. A heart broken by the mechanical hands of the bipeds.

LOST IN FEELING

The trees are huge. Although naked, they cast a large shadow on the ground. It looks dark and feels cold because of those big black shapes. Sunlight can hardly break through the canopy, even though the leaves are not on the boughs but rather making a slippery carpet on the ground.

The air is wet and heavy. Animals are sleeping or dead. Silence reigns on this dreadful kingdom of creaking wood. The lost wanderer hears nothing but his fast heartbeats and his quick irregular breathing. Shivers run down his back. He feels like a thousand eyes are spying on him. The eyes of the forest. Silent, omnipresent, oppressing ghosts.

Broken boughs crack under his footsteps, otherwise silenced by the soft carpet of snow. White snow, here and there, fallen from the naked branches, contrasting with the black shadows. White, but not luminous. Cold snow. Cold as the lost wanderer’s cold heart. He walks emotionless through the trees, barely even feeling the fear which run up and down his body in dreadful wet shivers.

Suddenly, a movement. The lost wanderer stops. His eyes go from left to right and right to left. What was it? Where was it? Nothing moves anymore. It was just an instant, a flash, like blinding lightning in the darkness of the night. It’s gone.

The lost wanderer feels the fear creep into his flesh now. He shivers. His hands tremble. His pace grows unsteady. Where does that fear come from? Who dwells in the dark corners of the forest? That beast, that unknown monster which makes its poisonous venom run through the earth.

But the wanderer knows it. He knows the face of the monster. It is the pain of a broken heart, the weight of solitude, the threat of loneliness. Behind closed eyes, the forest disappears. The dark, the silence, the dreadful feeling of being lost. But as soon as he opens his eyes, the calm dream vanishes and the solitude of the dark path comes back. Sometimes, a slight movement, her eyes, her hand. A mere memory. And then it’s over. And then she’s gone. And then the monster creeps in once more.

SWISS FOGGY BEAUTY

Have you ever heard of the Swiss sea? Have you ever seen those white waves flood the mountain sides?

It is a sea more beautiful than the Mediterranean, they say. It comes and goes along with the weather, and is more likely to be seen in winter. It invades the plains, drowns them in its thick whiteness, leaving them flooded and hoping for redemption.

But when you see it from the mountain tops, it is absolutely breath-taking, they say. The little curly waves hardly move at all, even if the wind blows on their white wings. It expands, still and silent, at your feet. It makes you feel like you are on top of the world with nothing under you but that beautiful white sea.

It is light and mild, just like the thought of a loved one, they say. It makes you dream, giving you visions of a lost otherworld. It looks magical, as if created by the hand of mighty Tolkien. It adds a dreamy touch to the green pastures of the Swiss Alps.

If you travel above the white sea, you won’t even get wet, they say. You don’t need to worry about being overtaken by the waves, for they won’t soak your socks. No need to take off your shoes to run along the beach, which is as long as the mountain side.

And do you know what makes that sea so beautiful? Well, it’s made of fog.

<<<<<>>>>>

The Tragedy of Macbeth : Interview with Florence Rivero, director and actress

Image: www.sweetsorrowtheater.com

Author: Corinne Morey

The Tragedy of Macbeth directed by the talented Florence Rivero was presented during this year’s Fécule Festival and received high praises from students and other members of the Unil community. Despite her very tight schedule, Florence took the time to answer a few of our questions regarding her interpretation of this timeless play.

Dear Florence, you now have quite a few successful play directing experiences behind you and I am confident you have many more ahead. Could you tell us what was your main challenge for this play in particular?

For this adaptation of Macbeth, I decided to mostly focus on the internal and psychological struggle of the characters, avoiding any supernatural or mystical interpretations. A very significant challenge was how to show to the audience the psychological distress our characters are going through. How does one show a fragile mind, a psychological manipulation, psychopathological consequences, hastily made decisions from a broken mind and internal suffering? To do so, a lot of work was done acting-wise and with the relation towards the audience. However, the most important element was the adaptation of the original script. That is where it all started, the first step, where everything had to make sense so it could actually work later on stage. This is the first of four productions where I have done an unrestricted and careful adaptation of a Shakespearian play, focusing on what I personally wanted to highlight.

What do you wish to emphasise most in your version of Macbeth? What approach did you choose for this play?

My emphasis is on the psychological journey of the character of Macbeth. That is the reason why I kept the original title of the play in its entirety: The Tragedy of Macbeth. I really wanted to show this tragic character’s mental decline. I do not see a bloodthirsty man wanting power; I see a man who is destroyed by it, even during the process of acquiring it. I want the public to feel compassion for him or at least to relate to his tragic being. He is not an evil character; he is lost and mentally disturbed.

You are rather known in Unil for staging the lighter and more comic of Shakespeare’s plays. Was this a change for you or have you already had this kind of experience in the past?

Our choice to start doing comic plays four years ago was because the troupe and I thought they were easier to do and more accessible to the public (I question that now). However, after our first play, Much Ado About Nothing in 2012, my wish was to follow up with a tragedy, but I did not feel ready as a director. We then did A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2013 and I still did not feel ready after it. Nevertheless, I wanted to start experimenting, that is why I decided to direct A Winter’s Tale last year. It is a tragicomedy that presents a very serious and sad first half, followed by a comical second part. That experience really helped me to make the transition to a classic tragedy. I would still love to do more comedies, but I think I feel more comfortable doing tragedies. They inspire me greatly.

We guess you had your say in the selection of the cast, of course. Who plays the main character Macbeth and why did you choose this person?

Raphaël Meyer plays my main character. We met when he did the casting for A Midsummer Night’s Dream back in 2013, where he eventually played my character’s love interest. Raphaël and I have been together as a couple since then. In 2014, he played Camillo in A Winter’s Tale, a small character yet a motor for many of the actions and twists of the play. Raphaël transformed Camillo from a simple functional character to an endearing, complex and multidimensional one. I was so impressed by his work that when I decided to do Macbeth, I thought he would be perfect for the role. Sadly, he didn’t want to audition for it since he felt incapable of portraying such a big and intense character. It actually took me months to convince him and to reassure him that he did have the talent and acting potential to do it. He did finally audition and got the role by a unanimous decision of our four-member jury. I’m very lucky to have him as Macbeth, although I cannot lie, it is a difficult challenge to direct your significant other. Fortunately it worked out great at the end, for both the play and for our relationship!

Blood is a very important symbol in this tragedy; will there be blood for all our gory/gothic lovers?

Blood is extremely important in this play! For me, its physical presence is fundamental. However, it is very important not to overuse it. Shakespeare mentions the presence of blood in several scenes and in my opinion, those should be the only times where it must be shown on stage. Blood represents the tangible reality. It should be there to remind both the characters and the public of the consequences of their actions. So to answer your question, yes, there will be blood.

Your choice of character for yourself also changes from what your public is used to. You play the witch who prophesizes many, if not all, of the events of the play. What made you choose this character and what do you like most about playing the witch?

As most of you may know, the witches in Macbeth are originally three sisters. In this adaptation, I decided to portray them as only one character: a mentality disabled beggar. I like the fact that she is a real person, suffering from real psychopathologies. Her prophecies can then be interpreted as merely coincidences, or maybe as psychological influences on Macbeth’s decisions and actions, and not as a mystical force. As an actress, playing this character has been very demanding. It is both a very physical and mental character and it demands a lot of energy. I’m usually exhausted after one scene, but it has been a very enjoyable experience.

If you did not get the chance to see Florence Rivero’s version of The Tragedy of Macbeth, it will be played three more times on the 29th, 30th and 31st of May at the Centre Pluriculturel et social d’Ouchy (CPO)! For more information please visit the Sweet Sorrow Theater Group’s website at www.sweetsorrowtheater.com!