Jonathan Grieve: MAS Artist and Producer

Jonathan Grieve: MAS Artist and Producer

 Bio Data

I started creating performance and music in the late 1980’s forming the band Contrastate with a college friend Stephen Meixner, I was inspired by Artaud, the industrial music scene and a visit to Documenta 8. Starting with art noise happenings at college we performed sets in Geneva and Antwerp. Our first vinyl release was in 1989 and we have continued releasing our material ever since. During this time we have played a number of festivals and radio shows in France, Germany, Poland, Sweden and Holland. Previous to that I played guitar and sang in a number of Mod, sixties soul, pop/rock, electronic and indie dance bands in London and the West Midlands.

I studied theatre at university training with actors and directors from Roy Hart Theatre, Grotowski and Odin Teatret. In 1993 I founded Para Active Theatre with Bill Aitchison as a physical theatre/performance art project presenting at venues like The Slaughterhouse, Cooltan Arts in Brixton and in a group show in the Old Synagogue in Brick Lane with The Consumerist Theatre of Desire.

I re-founded Para Active in 1997 with Persis-Jade Maravala (now of ZUUK) and began developing immersive ritual theatre. We performed a show called the Onion Bar at Stratford Circus, London and The Tobacco Factory, Bristol as well as site-specific versions at Valentines Mansions in Gants Hill. In 2003 the focus intensified after attending a workshop with Guillermo Gomez-Pena at CPR in 2003 we became more politically involved. He godfathered an immersive live art gig show called the Zoo-oid Fight Night Experience at Stratford Circus and in Edinburgh. We subsequently worked with him in West Bromwich in 2005 and Bristol in 2007.   There were lots spin-offs from this performance versions appearing at Duckie, LIFT festival, a Sardinian festival, a South Bank refugee festival. Our marketing ploys and our ambition was to raise the status of BAME, refugee and disability artists. I left Para Active in 2007, and resumed teaching, rejoining briefly to work on Hotel Medea in 2011 at the Edinburgh Festival.

In 2012 I founded MAS productions with Nwando Ebizie and created the Afro-futurist pop star persona of Lady Vendredi: a hybrid of performance art, exploitation cinema, ritual gig-theatre and Haitian vodou dance. We performed mainly one off gigs in music venues, art galleries and festivals until in 2016 when we had a 5 star run at Soho Theatre funded by GftA, PRS & a Soho commission. We also released a 4-track 12” EP of Lady Vendredi’s music to promote the show. I enrolled on the MA Practice as Research programme at University of Kent and used the Passion as my research project, graduating with an MA in 2016.  In 2017 three other artists joined us and we became a collective doing our first company residency: Your Reality is Broken at Yinka Shonibare Guest projects funded by GftA, PRS and an Arts Admin bursary. This involved an R&D of Nwando’s dance installation 20mins of Action, ASMR performances, ritual installations, collaborations with neuroscientists, and a variety of workshops exploring the neuroscience of perception and performance art ritual. We ran a DIY workshop at the South Bank Centre on sensory immersion and deprivation and won a commission to curate the Friday Night Spectacular at The Wellcome Collection at the end of 2017. This involved programming and creating thirty individual events with over forty performers. I was artistic director of the event and directed four individual performances. It was a very successful with almost 3,000 people attending. In addition to the work from Guest Projects it also included a talk on post-truth by Matthew d’Ancona, Haitian vodou dance workshops and performances and installations exploring the perception of smell as a ritual therapy activity, a flavour tripping choir concert and an interactive visual disturbances space.