This production of Molière's Tartuffe comes as the result of collaborative research carried out by students of the third year Acting course, second and third year Design students, Production students (coming from a range of years, streams, and levels of training), the composer, choreographer and my self.
Focus in research was on the correlation between distinctive actors and dramatic art practitioners which make a recognisable chain stretching from the times when Drama Art was for the first time recognised and articulated as an independent art form (over 2,500 years ago) until today. The major themes of exploration were:
1. Structural analysis: ie. given circumstances Molière, Aristotle, Artaud, Stanislavsky;
2. Distinctions: ie. Tragedy, Comedy;.
3. Genre: ie. Commedia dell'arte, Farce, Come& of Manners, Surrealism, Comedy of Absurdity;
4. Common points: ie. Religious wars, Baroque Française, gender, witch-hunt, demagogy, 1930s, Depression, Family, Vanity, Hypocrisy of our times;
5. Universal relevance: ie. Action, Passion, Character, Metaphor, Classics.
The relevance of discoveries was checked through rehearsals and constituted a blueprint for improvisations.
There are disputes and at least a few theories about who are the major practitioners and whose involvement is essential for live theatre performance but all of them consider audience as an integral element. My experience as actor is that the audience is undoubtedly active participant and shapes performance. I perceive that the major advantage of live theatre performance compared to other media employing dramatic art and actors (film, radio, TV) is in the immediacy of impact created by transitive actions and reactions between Actor/Character and Spectator. Spectators revisit live theatre performances in the clear understanding that each performance is a unique and genuine experience. The set design for this production is an attempt to allow and amplify the integration of stage and audience.
Costume design is a combination of century and 1930s costume, suggesting some imaginary futuristic decadency and hopefully underlining its universal relevance.
At the end, when Tartuffe season ends, away from spectators, we will analyse individual effort in research and application. The success of this production will be measured through the capacity to engage and playfully rebuild each night anew. With full respect and responsibility, mistakes and weaknesses will be clearly pointed out and used in the process of encouraging improvement, supporting openness and helping individual students in defining specific needs and future goals.
Due to the obvious complexity of group dynamics, which is in the nature of any theatrical exploration we used all available resources, and I would like to express our deepest gratitude to all staff across the schools within WAAPA@ECU whose knowledge and support proved invaluable. Special thanks to Gillian Jones, for spending her private time in everlasting debate about didactics, theories, and the pragmatic aspects of acting studies.
Now I will leave you to enjoy our study of passion, vanity and hypocrisy in the times of harsh religious (political, social…) intolerance.