Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Adapting Marlowe: Thoughts on Edward II

In the ever-humbling words of Andrew Visnevski, my dissertation tutor at RADA, "you, and Brecht". Indeed, I have, attempted (nay, succeeded?) to adapt Christopher Marlowe's Edward II, which some have described as "the most perfect achievement in dramatic structure". You know, no big deal.

The original is a firecracker of a story, but it is long, and a touch wandering, as Elizabethan plays can be, with altogether too many characters (What, was this some sort of government job-creation scheme??). I set out with the goal of tightening the story lines, and cutting down to 10 actors. Seems easy enough...however, being me, I embarked upon a year of reading and research. I read historical accounts of Edward's real life. I read essays about the play and its impact. I read and watched political dramas. I even read a gargantuan historical reference book accounting for the entirety of the Plantagenet dynasty. Because, you know, research.

What emerged from this research were two things. First, our current political and personal climate is one where the personal and the political are blurred. Young hopeful politicians are edited out of the race due to personal tweets from years ago. The Mayor of Toronto is videotaped and goes viral smoking crack. "Successful" politicians' families are polished and primped, photographed and prepared for the public, to the point where they are cookie-cutter versions of actual human people. But the risk of the messy truth coming out is too great. How alike this is to Edward, who wants to live his life as he chooses, which he should rightfully do, however those around him wish to dictate how he appear, and who he consorts with.

Second, the idea of the actual life of Edward II, son of the myth-making, Scot-fighting Edward Longshanks (whom most know as the vicious English King in Braveheart). Longshanks created myth like none before (and arguably few after for several hundred years). His was a world just like ours, where image and reality were two different things. Into this world is born Edward II, who wasn't meant to be King, and who (at least in the play) doesn't make a great one. His own son, who will become Edward III, becomes the face of what happens when a child is forced to inherit a legacy of image.

So, the themes of the personal becoming public, and of the prince observing a world where he is unsure of his place, took the forefront.

What opens on Thursday is a first go; the company have taken my first draft, continued to tinker with the text and images, and presented a first production. It is our hope that the firecracker that we began with from Marlowe now has an even shorter fuse, and one that compels us to see our own hopes and expectations, not only for rulers, but for those around us in any position of power, reflected.

I'm certainly not finished with this text, and would be immensely grateful for your thoughts should you see the production.

Edward II runs Oct 1-4 at the Asper Centre for Theatre & Film at the University of Winnipeg. Tickets and times at www.theatrebytheriver.com 

Monday, 21 September 2015

popART: Intersection at Nuit Blanche

As many of you know, I've been doing some more experimental work, which this summer has taken the form of my popART series of immersive installations. Earlier this year saw part one take place in a darkened alley during Winnipeg Fringe and featuring the work of Pixel Pusher and John Norman. For the second installation in the series, I have partnered with Ali Khan and jaymez to create a space we call Intersection.

Intersection: Images on unfamiliar surfaces. Sounds in unfamiliar spaces created on unfamiliar instruments. A familiar yet unfamiliar space. Join us for the second in Kendra Jones’ popART series of curated installations merging music, video, and performance with music created live by Ali Khan, and multi-surface video projection by jaymez.

The installation will be at the intersection of Graham and Edmonton, in the outdoor plaza in front of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet building at 380 Graham Avenue. Combining the live electronic music creation of Ali Khan with the live video mapped projections from jaymez we will envelope the angular and hard-edged architecture of the space with light and sound that is continually being created and changing. You can come for a short while, for a longer period, or come and go, and the intersection of the space, the music, and the projections will enhance and elevate each of the individual components.

Come check us out from 9pm on Nuit Blanche. And tell your friends!

With all of these installation projects, one of my main goals is to re-define expectations for our interaction with art and theatre, and to challenge us to notice the inherent theatricality of events and spaces we pass by daily.

Also, this will be one of my last projects in the 'Peg for awhile. . . so it would be fantastic to have your support.

popART: Intersection is an official "Illuminate the Night" selection for Nuit Blanche Winnipeg and Culture Days Manitoba.