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Buckets of bull and girls taking the piss

Jonathan Schofield learns how Manchester International Festival show, Il Tempo di Postino, will be forced to issue a statement about controversial scenes

Written by . Published on July 10th 2007.

Buckets of bull and girls taking the piss

At last Manchester International Festival will have its moment. Manchester Confidential has learned that a storm is brewing over Il Tempo di Postino, the Opera House-based new work directed by Phillippe Parreno.

The work, which runs from 12-14 July, is a series of fifteen sketches loosely based on Norman Mailer’s rambling novel Ancient Evenings, set in Egypt during the time of the Pharoahs. This is a violent book obsessed with sexuality of all types, descriptions, variations, distortions and…er… creatures.

The main problem concerns a scene where a car is brought on stage and covered in cow pheromones. The car is then followed by a bull which becomes aroused and is manipulated by actorly folk to a welcome release.

Later today the London-based PR office of the Festival will release a statement over concerns about the show. We’re not allowed to see it though. As the lovelies down south tell Confidential, ‘the Festival will be releasing a statement on Il Tempo exclusively to the MEN (as the official media partners of the Festival)’. So for us, it’s got to be publish and be damned.

The main problem concerns a scene where a car is brought on stage and covered in cow pheromones. The car is then followed by a bull which becomes aroused and is manipulated by actorly folk to a welcome release. In short the bull is masturbated on stage. Wanked, madam. Perhaps put those front row tickets on eBay if you were thinking of going. Oh and then there’s another scene where girls urinate on the stage. Definitely, put those front row tickets on eBay.

Of course whether there’s any merit in all this, whether it’s necessary for the show, can be endlessly debated.

On one level experimental theatre is not necessary at all, who needs it, let’s have the Sound of Music back, or a bit of Shakespeare.

On another level theatre has a responsibility not to be complacent, that the usually mild-mannered middle-class audiences that patronize theatres need the odd shaking up, the occasional nudge, to make them think about what they are watching. Theatre is all about drama after all. And Shakespeare used to shock in his day.

This production surely has a place in a festival which claims to be doing it differently, one which claims to be show-casing premieres, to be original and modern. And if you saw the pictures in the MEN today, then that bull didn’t look too concerned about what’s happening to it. In fact it looked smug. Of course if there’s a question over animal welfare then that’s a different matter any form of cruelty can’t be condoned.

But if there is no cruelty, then Confidential says let’s get on with it. Let’s not have outraged of Egerton, Hale or wherever demanding censorship. Of course every real Festival needs its moment where the moral guardians rise up and say it’s really too much, it goes beyond the boundaries of decency, it’s disgusting, shocking etc…

It looks like this may be that moment for Manchester International Festival. The organisers might want to cheer (or perhaps bellow) in delight. MIF has arrived.

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19 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

BertieJuly 10th 2007.

Should be interesting to see how they're going to control the animal. Bulls are not pleasant creatures, especially at this time of the year. Especially when aroused. But that would be typical urban types knowing less-than-nowt about the country (unless its all a publicity stunt which is likely).

peter ridleyJuly 10th 2007.

Whole lot better than being eaten

ToroJuly 10th 2007.

Is it only bulls that get treated like this? Can anyone apply for the job?

Miss PoppyJuly 10th 2007.

My mistake Barry, nobody is calling this family entertainment, I just checked out the MIF website and the show does come with a warning.

AnonymousJuly 10th 2007.

i've not seen the show, and don't particularly want to but let's remember, this is a bull. i dare say it won't feel embarrased about being 'humiliated' on stage. in fact the 'poor' bull has to enjoy it to some extent for it to even happen! as for girls peeing, i see enough of that around manchester on a friday night without any need to 'spend a penny' for the privelege. (sorry).

Miss PoppyJuly 10th 2007.

To put this obscene type of titilation in a public forum and call it family entertainment is an abomination. Helping animals in a farm setting is perhaps the right time, the right place and the right purpose for such an activity but to use it in this way for cheap and nasty audience thrills is diabolical. Sodom and Gomorrah come to mind.

Phil TJuly 10th 2007.

I want to know if the car is sold afterwards, will it come with a full 'service history'?Will the bull be allowed to light up afterwards, or only if it's an integral part of it's performance?

AnonymousJuly 10th 2007.

I find it a little disturbing that people will pay good money to see a bull getting it on, if your that desparate for gods sake go to the country and watch. I don't think this is for the stage as the 'show' can easily get out of hand, how does the production team know how to handle an aroused bull?!!

johnJuly 10th 2007.

I would imagine this is the best publicity a performance involved a cow being tossed off could ever have hoped for.

CarlosTheJackalJuly 10th 2007.

I think I'm right in saying that this practice ("helping" animals - especially farm animals - achieve release) is a legitimate farming procedure, so it's no more cruel just because it's being performed in front of a theatre audience rather than disinterested farmers. Besides, the last time I was w*nked off on stage in front of a group of strangers, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

KittyJuly 10th 2007.

How are the cow pheromones obtained? IF there is no cruelty involved in this process then I think there are far worse horrors happening to animals around the world that deserve the time and energy used protesting far more than this...for example the fur trade in China...seal clubbing in Canada...these are far more horrific than one bull getting w****d off! Think people...we need to work together to make change and distraction over petty things only succeeds in allowing the real horror to comtinue undeterred.

BarryJuly 10th 2007.

Jonathan - Does a bull have the mental capacity to know it's being made a spectacle of?Miss poppy - is anyone calling this family entertainment?

JonathanJuly 10th 2007.

It is a real, live bull. And maybe the question is one not of cruelty but of the dignity of the animal involved. After all it is being made a public spectacle of. This again could be used as a reason to stop performances.

BarryJuly 10th 2007.

Judging from the response, this story was well worth the special 'bulletin' (groan) that bothered my inbox last night.The story currently languishes in 8th place on the MEN's Entertainment page (it doesn't have an Arts section.)Is it possible that those cunning southern PR types duped ManCon into giving the festival some free coverage?By the way - what did ManCon type into Google to get that picture?

CathyJuly 10th 2007.

Of course there's cruelty! How could the cow pheromones be extracted without cruelty? And exploiting the bull is not acceptable either. Animals are not toys, even sex toys. Expect protests.

johnny cashJuly 10th 2007.

i was looking forward to this event before i knew anything about its content and now i have to say that i cant wait!...

GordoJuly 10th 2007.

Gordo wants this gig next time out...

Miss PoppyJuly 10th 2007.

There is no excuse to glorify bestiality. Surely they are not using a real live bull?!!!!!

Bob MonkhouseJuly 10th 2007.

This has got Rebecca Loos' sticky handprints all over it.

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