Cheek by jowl’s donnellan’s russian version of shakespeare for sydney
The last time British theatre director Declan Donnellan brought a troupe of Russian actors to Sydney, Moscow had been shivering through its coldest winter in living memory and east coast Australia was roasting. Home decor art pictures Bondi Beach, where the actors had all legged it after landing, was a hazy 40C-plus.
“It was terrible; they got on to the sand, stripped off as one and ran into the water with this bright white skin,” says Donnellan, 63, with a good-natured shudder.
Decoration home blog “There were a lot of lobsters doing Shakespeare that night.”
That was in 2006, and the play was Twelfth Night, an all-male co-production between Donnellan’s celebrated company Cheek by Jowl and the Chekhov International Theatre Festival. Home decoration of ganesh festival Donnellan was no stranger to Australia: his productions had visited Adelaide ( As You Like It, 1992), Melbourne ( The Duchess of Malfi, 1995) and Sydney ( Othello, 2004). Decoration bar home In 2008 he brought a sleek modern take on Chekhov’s Three Sisters, another Russian co-production, to Brisbane. Decoration of home for christmas His version of the 17th-century tragedy ’Tis a Pity She’s a Whore graced the 2011 Sydney Festival, pumping disco soundtrack and all.
Declared “national treasures in two countries, their native England and their adoptive Russia” by London’s Evening Standard, Cheek by Jowl returns to Sydney next month with Measure for Measure, which it has co-produced with Moscow’s Pushkin Theatre. Home decorating ideas with pictures Delivered in Russian (with English surtitles) by 13 Russian actors who have worked with Donnellan for years, it’s a piece that explores the darkness in Shakespeare’s knottiest “problem play”, and a work all the more powerful for a minimalist set featuring five oversized red containers.
Cheek by Jowl brought an English-language production of Measure to Measure to Perth back in 1994. Interior home design wallpapers It’s a play that doesn’t date, says Donnellan. Home interior design kolkata “It is about control and how one way we are controlled, not only by governments but by churches and other institutions that seek to control us, is by shame. Home decor ideas with recycled materials It starts with parents and develops. Interior design home library Shame is an extremely good way of controlling people.”
This new, Russian-language version premiered to wild acclaim in Moscow in 2013 before going on to wow Europe and Britain. B home interior design “A shattering portrait of contemporary Russia,” declared outspoken Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta of a production that was subsequently nominated for five prestigious Golden Mask awards including best director and best actor.
Anyone who knows their Bard will know that Measure for Measure is set not in Russia but in the vice-ridden backstreets of Vienna. Cheap home decor ideas diy It tells of a duke in over his head, a Puritan who is not what he seems and a novice nun facing a grave dilemma. Interior home design kitchen This being Shakespeare, its themes are universal, of course: power, control, sexual hypocrisy; dodgy leadership, thwarted freedom, the brutal treatment of society’s most vulnerable — the Putin-era parallels are obvious. Decoration home 2013 Comparisons with recent events in the US beg to be drawn.
“Shakespeare put his fingers on really eternal human tropes, patterns that keep recurring and recurring,” says Donnellan in his genial, thoughtful way. Home decorating tips for renters “People think Measure for Measure was written for today, but it wasn’t. Home decorating ideas bathroom makeover It was written for tomorrow. Home decorating ideas for christmas photos He knew that we’re not going to change very much.
“In that sense the play also addresses the huge problems going on in Russia.” A wry smile. Home decoration pics “Though I’m sure [Vladimir] Putin will be feeling a lot less lonely in the world right now.”
We’re sitting in a cafe in Hampstead, north London, where Donnellan lives with his partner in life and work, Nick Ormerod, the stage designer with whom he founded Cheek by Jowl in 1981, when both were fresh out of Cambridge University. Home decoration photos Ormerod — who, like Donnellan, is tall and balding (“though I’m afraid I’m the balder”) — has likened their long-time involvement in the company to the experience of running a family. Home decoration ideas for wedding Wherever its productions go — and they seem to go almost everywhere — Donnellan and Ormerod follow.
Catching Donnellan at home feels like a fluke: “Well, Hampstead is where our washing machine is and our suitcases are,” says the director, who was awarded a lifetime achievement award, a Golden Lion, at this year’s Venice Biennale. Interior home decoration images “Our headquarters are a tiny room at the Barbican” — Cheek by Jowl is an associate of the renowned London multi-arts centre — “but our lives are happily itinerant.”
In a few days Measure for Measure opens in Cluj, Transylvania (“an unspeakably beautiful country, one of the hidden wonders of the world”), where Donnellan will hold an acting workshop based on processes outlined in his reissued book The Actor and the Target — which was first published in Russian in 2000 and has since been translated into English, French, Greek and Romanian. Home decorating ideas painting walls The questions Donnellan asks his actors to consider are pertinent for us all: Who are you? Where did you come from? Where are you going? What do you want? And what do you want to avoid?
He will be similarly quizzing his company of British actors when they arrive in Cluj to spend a week rehearsing, in English, The Winter’s Tale before it opens in New York and Chicago. Room decoration with pictures As he will his group of Russian actors, and at some point over the coming year his company of France-based actors, when rehearsals begin for a 2018 Cheek by Jowl production of Pericles. Home decorating tips for small spaces In French.
To date Cheek by Jowl has performed in over 300 cities in more than 40 countries, presenting large-scale works in English and, since the 1990s, in French and Russian. Home decoration photos interior design While neglected European classics are its specialty — including the English premieres of Jean Racine’s Andromache and Pierre Corneille’s Le Cid more than 300 years after they were written — Shakespeare has always been at the core of its repertoire. Ganpati decoration photos at home The name, thought up by Ormerod, comes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (“Follow? Nay, I will go with thee, cheek by jowl”).
Having won the Olivier award for most promising newcomer in 1981, its first year of existence, Cheek by Jowl has since became a byword for theatrical excellence. Handmade home decor ideas videos The company doubles as a training ground for actors wanting to pursue their craft as organically as possible; joining their ranks has long been the aim of many a drama student. Home decorating ideas glass vases Actors who have flown the nest to find international fame in film and television include Daniel Craig, Tom Hiddleston, David Morrissey, Saskia Reeves and Michael Sheen. Home interior design johor bahru Adrian Lester, who starred as Rosalind in (the all-male) As You Like It, once said that “the reason these guys [Donnellan and Ormerod] are so damned good is they don’t tell you what to do … Declan adapts his process to meet the requirements of each actor. Decoration home 2015 Once you’re out on stage it’s impossible to tell where his ideas have ended and yours have begun.”
So what, for Donnellan, is the purpose of theatre? What makes us want to sit in a room full of strangers and watch people pretending to be other people? He doesn’t hesitate.
“Theatre allows us to develop empathy, which is different from sympathy and requires nurturing, like love,” he says, turning up his palms. Home decoration tips in hindi “Theatre is a shared experience that helps us, as a group, experience the meaning of being alive. Home decor ideas craft No matter how painful the subject matter theatre makes us feel better, because it lets us explore our dualistic humanity and look at things that are too dangerous to experiment with in real life, and for which you need imagination and memory.
“When we think that we are incapable of being violent, we become dangerous.” He sits back and shrugs. Decoration at home “When we think we are pure, we become corrupt.”
Take Measure For Measure. Home decor tips and tricks Angelo, the Duke’s Puritan deputy, is given the task of cracking down on vice and acts on his repressive authoritarian instincts: “People get it wrong when they think Angelo is a corrupt politician pretending to be honest. Decoration of small home It’s much nastier than that. Ganesh decoration at home The problem is that Angelo believes himself above all forms of sin, which makes him very treacherous.”
The play, he says, reiterates the need to make friends with the mess inside all of us. Home interior design low budget “We have to make sure we don’t project out the worst bits of ourselves and imagine they only exist in others. Home decoration ideas for diwali But we are not going to beat human nature, which is why Measure for Measure feels relevant in every place, in every year, and why people always wonder if I’ve put something in for that country.”
But aren’t Ormerod’s red containers meant to reflect the oppressive primary colour of Soviet-style propaganda? Donnellan isn’t saying. Interior home decoration games It’s tempting to believe this is the case, given Cheek by Jowl chose the play to suit his group of Russian actors, many of whom are well known in a country where theatre receives as much respect and attention as film and TV, and film schedules are often altered to accommodate an actor’s theatrical commitments.
“I just love these actors so much. Home decor ideas small apartment We wanted to find the best part in Shakespeare for a wonderful young woman named Anna Khalilulina, which is Isabella (the novice nun). Decoration of ganpati at home Besides, Measure for Measure is one of Shakespeare’s best plays; the big scenes between Isabella and Angelo (Andrei Kuzichev) are second to none.”
Still, why should English-speaking audiences even want to consider watching Shakespeare in Russian (or, for that matter, in French), English surtitles or no English surtitles? Won’t they miss the nuances in the words, and therefore much of the play’s meaning?
On the contrary, says Donnellan. Interior home design vancouver “Different languages can offer new perspectives on Shakespeare. Home decoration images We live in a world that is dominated by the word; sometimes you can see things more clearly by being partially blinded by a foreign language. Home decorating inspiration pictures When you’re not confused by the word, you see something else.”
Donnellan’s CV reveals a penchant for risk-taking. Home decorating ideas for thanksgiving A Manchester-born London Irishman, as a boy he’d watch the Whitehall farces — a series of five long-running stage plays — on TV and was intrigued by “the artifice of the curtain going up and down”. Home interior ideas uk He never studied acting or drama, aside from Shakespeare at school and at Cambridge, where he (and Ormerod) read English and law. Interior home design for small spaces A lack of formal allegiance to the craft arguably freed them up to, say, put Pericles in a blue tracksuit and set Twelfth Night in a nightclub.
There was never a plan for Cheek by Jowl. Home decoration ideas for ganesh chaturthi They didn’t set out to last 35 years. Home interior design wall colors “It’s been a continuum,” says Donnellan, whose play Lady Betty, an Irish-set drama about an 18th-century hangwoman, was performed by Cheek by Jowl in 1989. Home decoration ideas 2015 “We were always like, ‘What do we do next?’ In 1980 we were desperate to perform in London; we were kids. Room decoration pictures in pakistan Then we got these international invitations and just went. Interior home remodeling ideas Everything has always fallen into place.”
Right place. Home decor ideas for kid bedrooms Right time. Decoration outside home Talent. Interior home designs rossendale Risks. Home decoration pictures pakistan Oh, and mentors. Decoration home modern Donnellan’s “theatre father” was Australian-born actor, director and lecturer Lisle Jones, who asked a 20-something Donnellan — then in the vanguard of a new gang of fringe companies including Deborah Warner’s Kick and Simon McBurney’s Complicite — to guest-direct a play at his London drama school. Home decorating ideas country style “Lisle is an extraordinary man,” says Donnellan of the now Melbourne-based Jones. Home decor ideas kenya “We would always talk a lot. Home decoration with photos I learned so much from him.”
There has been other counsel; in the 90s Donnellan was an associate director at Richard Ayre’s National Theatre, where his productions included the premiere of Tony Kushner’s AIDS masterpiece Angels in America.
That same decade the legendary British theatre director Peter Brook invited As You Like It to his theatre in Paris, the Bouffes du Nord (and in 2007 invited Donnellan to form a group of French actors).
A chance meeting in Helsinki with the modern Russian theatre director Lev Dodin led Donnellan and Ormerod to visit his company at the Maly Drama Theatre in St Petersburg. Christmas home decorating ideas videos This in turn led to work with the Maly and then with the Russian Theatre Confederation, which commissioned Cheek by Jowl to form a sister company of Russian actors in Moscow.
An astounding staging of Pushkin’s Boris Godunov for the Chekhov Festival paved the way for a repertoire that now includes Three Sisters, The Tempest and Twelfth Night; Measure for Measure is Cheek by Jowl’s first co-production with the Pushkin Theatre.
“Doing Boris Godunov as our first show was pure chutzpah because it’s a big Russian classic,” says Donnellan with a grin. Interior home design color schemes “But it went very well and we were invited to many places and many of the actors wanted to work with us again.”
Cheek by Jowl has garnered such a reputation in Moscow, where its version of The Winter’s Tale has run and run, that “a few economic crises ago” it nearly got its own bespoke theatre. Decoration home pinterest It’s the humanity of the Russian people that brings Donnellan back: “Moscow isn’t a user-friendly city like Melbourne or Sydney, and it doesn’t seem like a friendly city to begin with,” he says. Interior home lighting design “But I was particularly struck in the 1980s how, if you asked somebody for directions, they would look at you and say, ‘Come with me’. Home decorating ideas kitchen Then they’d very kindly walk you to wherever you wanted to go, without ever smiling once.”
Then there’s the love of theatre. Home decorating pictures on walls “Moscow has approximately 260 theatres. Home interior design kochi Some are very small, and not every play is brilliant, but theatre is part of the fabric of life.” And indeed, of death: “It’s a repertory system so actors leave drama school and stay in the theatre until they retire. Interior home design kerala Then they have their funeral onstage, with the coffin and flowers and the people from the company standing around.
“It’s very moving to watch, and a lot more meaningful than ending up in some suburban crematorium with tatty orange curtains that you’ve never been to.”
Early rehearsals for Measure for Measure took place in a motel in the countryside outside Moscow, where the air is cleaner and the scenery greener.
“The big thing is to get them out of this monster city with its terrible traffic and pollution and off to what I call ‘the woods’ for a couple of months. Images for home decoration Being part of the metropolitan elite, they get scared once they go past the ring road and out into redneck country. Home decorating ideas low budget But they love it, being much healthier and more focused, and having that long rehearsal period makes such a difference.”
The actors are excited to be visiting Australia once again — to be leaving another freezing Moscow winter for Sydney and its beaches in summertime.