Wednesday, 13 August 2008

*** "... some trace of her" (katie mitchell & the company)

tuesday 12th august 2008

...some trace of her
inspired by The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

adapted by Katie Mitchell and the company

: Cast includes
Jamie Ballard
: Pandora Colin
: Sam Crane
: Gawn Grainger
: Helena Lymbery
: Hattie Morahan
: Bradley Taylor
: Ben Whishaw

Production credits:
Director: Katie Mitchell
Designer: Vicki Mortimer
Director of Photography: Leo Warner for Fifty-Nine Productions
Lighting Designer: Paule Constable
Composer: Paul Clark
Sound Designer: Gareth Fry

at cottlesloe, national theatre

You know, I can't understand how one can pass by a tree and not be happy about the sight of it. Think how many beautiful things there are at every step, things even the most wretched man cannot but find beautiful. Look at a child, look at the grass, how it grows, look at the eyes that gaze at you and love you...
A woman lies dead on a bed in her wedding dress, a silver knife through her heart. The two men who loved her lie beside her.
I don't understand even now how it happened.
This multimedia performance develops the use of live video seen in the ground-breaking production of
Waves at the National Theatre in 2006/7. Waves returns to the Cottesloe from 20 August to 9 September, prior to a UK and World Tour.
In the ...some trace of her programme Director of Photography, Leo Warner, describes the unique process of bringing ...some trace of her to the stage; plus how to access exclusive video footage from the show.

Some of things said by Katie Mitchell in conversation with Dan Rabellato at the platform pre-show talk:

There are 2000 muscles in the face –we want to show the subtleties of expression I see in the rehearsal room, but which in a theatre even this size from 4 or 5 rows back becomes a just white shape, and from further back the whole body is just a white shape

It takes 3 days to make 1 minute of the show

we don't experience life as one linear neat storyline - we are constantly jumping our attention from one thing to another

this is a show about faith - about what people who have this structure and what those that don't might do: does it make them more / less moral?

there is an early sequence where a man talks about his thoughts through his experience of his last 3 minutes of life before his execution, only then to be reprieved - this is a show where the characters are "living in the shadow of death" (dan rabellato's phrase)

she is hugely influenced by Eastern Europe theatre makers – they set the bar - where makers take the work very seriously, make productions in terms of not one show but 3 or 4, spend 4 years making it, make a show that runs for several hours, make work of great beauty, emphasise the importance of craft

… and then the show …

as we sit down the company and already alive and casually busy on the stage, all in black non-descript clothes, demanding little attention, the giant film screen invisible

the floor is covered in hundreds of markers coloured coded for positioning cameras, lights and props
at each side are open shelves stacked neatly with clothes and materials
a couple of tables with poise lights
a couple of wooden platforms for the Foley sound effects

as the company make the show and the story unfolds before us we get a series of close-ups on faces and objects in period black and white film, often with a second actor voicing the dialogue so we receive it as the characters thoughts, and then perhaps with another setup providing us the view of what they are doing with their hands
we choose what we look at – the lovingly photoed closeup pan of the tea table and its accoutrements on the live version laid out on the floor or the actor reading the dialogue from a book into a microphone or the shots coming into and out readiness around the stage

I moved from a delighted boy in a candy shop thrilled with the sights on offer to wanting and getting the chance to immerse fully into the story and its characters to lastly wanting and getting some emotional vibrations. the last of these was the least provided – it’s there in the performances and the overall making but always played against the deliberate consciousness of the artifice going into its performing. it’s a small carp but I would have liked the dialogue to have come free from its speakers rather than read from the book and happily sacrificed the story of the video makers buried in the story of the show they are making – I could easily have absorbed and become accustomed to the busyness around the stage and become buried in the story, its people and their emotions if I’d been allowed.

but never never did the constant and efficient bustle around through over and under the various action points steal or distract – they were there to observe if we chose but never competing or contaminating the main focuses of where the story was happening.

andf the music also being made live but out of sight was an absolutely integral part of the show providing movement, mood, atmosphere and extra layers of storytelling

some moments from the show that – to coin Mitchell’s phrase about “the idiot” – that have burned into my memory

+ the quick and effective way the woman's back story is given to us through a vision of her as a young girl with a doll being preyed upon in double mirror leering image by the older man who will dominate and own her and the sexual splash of water
+ the long lists - by him at the start; by her at the end - of "I want ..."s
+ rolling up his sleeve so he could provide the bare arm to brush his own collar in preparation for his wedding
+ the beautifully lit tiny window pane with rain and flower that appeared as a blurred background in the film
+ the layered shots of the protagonist with white lights flying horizontally across his vision while we simultaneously watched them falling vertically in front of their camera
+ the layered shot of the two women with the one reflecting in the window she is watching the other through
+ the moments when we have a more complete scene on stage than the close-up film is giving us
+ the moments of tenderness or tension or isolation between two characters together in close-up on the screen while being completely separate on stage

+the continual flow of seamless moves in and out of the action from performing to filming to voicing to setting up to performing to lighting –to sound effecting to resetting up

wonderful and rich and magical and potent and thrilling and enthralling and gloriously controlled and contained and unfurledmy one wish for next time is that I can add “and moving” to this list

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments ^_^