by William Shakespeare
2017, Pop-up Globe, Auckland NZ / Melbourne Australia
Directed by Ben Naylor
In our work at PUG, Chantelle Gerrard and I explore an aesthetic which, in the postmodern spirit of the theatre itself, clashes the period with the modern; to create productions which Shakespeare and his cohort might have recognised visually, but which also feel entirely at home in the third millennium.
This production brought the globe to Pop-up Globe: Aotearoa, Samoa, England, Scotland, Norway, Germany, the United States and Turkey met in the persons of the company. Binaries abounded. Pacific social custom met Renaissance formalities. The military culture of the ANZACS met the martial physicality of the All-Blacks. The Southlander (TeKohe Tuhaka as Othello) encountered the Norseman (Haakon Smestad as Iago); English feist (Jasmine Blackborow as Desdemona) met Maori fire (Roimata Fox as Emilia).
The production’s visual score underlines these binaries with a design which uses mono-chromatic and primary colour schemes. The production elucidates too the Renaissance understanding of the operations of evil as being the work of the Devil, with renaissance cosmological ideas encoded in the performance in ways instantly recognisable to a contemporary audience, through the choreography of elemental materials: fire, water, wood, sand, blood and wine – and an anti-deus ex machina at the end.
From September 2017, the production is running at PUG in Melbourne, Australia, with Regan Taylor taking over from Te Kohe Tuhaka in the title role.
An interview with me about the work is here.
Mobile phone footage of Megan Adams’ mad, brilliant, heavy metal, Middle-Eastern haka jig is here.
This Instagram page has some really charming fan art of the production’s central characters.
And here is a TV news snippet about one particular night at the production, which turned out to be one of the most moving nights of my theatre career.
Photography by Peter Meecham