The evening had a great air of authenticity, with songs of the Balkan Gypsies playing as ambiance from dated vinyl records.
Entering the Majlis art space which I had come to know well over the season, I was immediately struck with the sense that something was very different. Eastern European accents, pickles, wine, and kielbasa were finding their way to each and every patron. The space was abuzz with laughter and story telling. One could even have their fortune read by a rather fascinating clairvoyant, who continued to have demands for readings until the very last minutes leading up to the play.
Screw Your Courage To The Sticking-Place
The play began with the audience slowly making their way onto the stage where seats were arranged in a circle around a seemingly eclectic collection of items - old-fashioned flashlights, a scarf, a hat, a jacket, et cetera. The “rules of engagement” for this particular show (taken directly from the groups leaflet) were as follows:
1) Actors must know the entire text.
2) Actors may not play the same role in successive sequences.
3) Roles can be taken or given, embraced or refused.
4) Three actors alone must play all the roles.
5) We begin in ceremony and remain in ceremony till the end.
6) Nothing else is planned.
The lights were dimmed and soon the only illumination came from the flashlights and wax candles dwelling in the centre of the stage.
Each article of clothing was designated to represent a particular character in the story, and whomever was wearing the item was to embody that character until it was passed on.
As mentioned, the troop does not attempt to anticipate who will play which part at any given moment. This creates a fabulous sense of madness as well as awe, “a sense of danger more akin to contact sports than to theatre(Makbet leaflet).” How fitting for Macbeth?
The Wine Of Life Is Drawn
The whole performance from start to finish was, in a phrase: of a people at the local and fundamental level; of the grass roots.
Make sure you see one of their shows this year. (http://dziecitheatre.org/)