Tonight we met with Juliet Forster from York Theatre Royal to discuss the potential for a show next year. Following a fruitful collaboration last year with Tales from Kafka, both the company and Juliet were eager to work together again on a new project.
Juliet had previously suggested Pirandello’s Henry IV. It’s story of identity, mis-perception, delusion, complicity and loss seemed to appeal when previously suggested to the company.
Tonight’s meeting was a combination of renewing acquaintances, especially since there are new members to the company, and a brief introduction to the play, discussing the wider potential of the project, and interpreting some of the material.
After a brief name game warm-up, we split into two groups to quickly create still images associated with the play, such as: a castle, a mask, a reunion, a murder, a portrait, a King’s court.
After expending a bit of energy we read a section from the play in which the characters discuss the moment when the title character began to think of himself as the real Henry IV. Splitting into two groups again, we were asked to recreate this moment based on what the characters say and recall in this scene. One group was allowed to use dialogue, the other had to use only body language.
After a much needed caffeine break, we read two different translations of the opening scene. One was a more modern Tom Stoppard version, whilst the other was a traditional translation.
We were able to compare and contrast the relative merits of the same scene by, for instance, looking at the use of language, or the inclusion/exclusion of two minor characters. This allowed us to discuss the potential of adaptation, and Juliet’s idea that there is room to adapt, devise, dissect and deconstruct the play as suits an Out of Character performance.
This seems like an exciting prospect to me. Whilst we can stay true to the essence of the play, it would allow us a similar selective freedom we had with Kafka. Since Kafka wasn’t already a play, it was based on selected short stories which were then part adapted and devised, and then fully scripted by Juliet. This allowed a modicum of freedom and interpretation for the company. Already having a fully scripted play could limit us, but if we can dissect our interpretation concerning the themes that we find important it could be even more interesting and creatively rewarding.