Monday, 3 September 2012

Geoff Hooke's Ubu

Many years ago now I went to see a production of Ubu the King directed by Geoff Hooke - I think it was in a space he operated in Fitzroy (?). 

The thing that struck me about this play was the moment where the actor  playing Ubu absolutely beat the crap out of a  human size ragdoll dummy. It was a brilliant moment of theatre because of the violence unleashed, to the point where we the audience forgot the actor/dummy thing and began to imagine the violence, the pain, the anger etc. It was a brilliant lesson I have never forgotten.

It taught me that imagined violence is so much better than that in so called realistic dramas. To this day,  about 30 years alter, I still tell me students when it comes to death/violent scenes lead the audience to the moment where they imagine it, then stop - their imagined scene will always be better than your acted scene.

It also reminds me of something someone else taught me, I think it was Jenny Kemp, but we are talking about more than thirty years ago here, and that was crying was for the audience, not the actor. I think this is another example of the power of the imagined. As an actor we build the emotion until we are at the brink of tears and stop, allowing the audience to move beyond the brink to their own tears. If we, the actors, cry, what need have the audience? Our job id to lead them to the emotional experience, not do it for them.

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