A Comedy by
Mr. William Shakespeare
And by the King’s women and men
(en français and English)
in La Tour Vagabonde
mercredi 28 mars à 18h
Sitting on a couch in the cœur de Section, I take my list of questions and my cell phone out of my bag. Roelof is facing me. On another sofa, a student is typing on her computer. She looks very much absorbed by what she is doing. I put my phone in front of Roelof, turn it on “record” and start acting like a journalist.
My first surprise was to learn that Roelof has been involved in theatre at UNIL for twenty years already. He wrote five or six plays and directed many others, from Greek tragedies to Beckett. How does he choose his projects? “Choosing plays is like being at a banquet with many extraordinary dishes,” he says, “you eat and drink whatever you desire at any particular moment.” That is the basic line: follow intuition. No need for justification. The other drives that, according to him, direct his work are his need for collective creation, and the fact that ‘creative’ is fundamentally reactive. He also believes that “there is no better way to learn about things than by doing them,” so he learns about theatre by “doing” plays, which means gathering together energetic people attracted by the pleasure of acting, appropriating everyone’s ideas about the play, the characters, the mise en scène, and then deciding on directions to explore together. Direction reacts to the acting, which reacts to direction, which… . Team work, the energy has to circulate! As for his methods, to keep characters and a play alive, all “show” has to be constructed on an inner reality. Which brings us to the other essential ingredient of theatre, the audience, the final open circle in which a play’s energy needs to circulate. To sum up, Roelof likes to direct because that’s how he participates in keeping things alive, essential to “a life.”
Any other motivations? I could not help asking Roelof if the London-Stratford trip he co-organizes every year has an influence on his projects. Well, it seems that it is not as important as it used to be, interesting as some productions may be. For him, it is much more essential to experience the creation of a project than to see the productions of others. “In the beginning, our work feeds on that of others, but after a while it develops its own directions.”
The Twelfth Night at the Tour Vagabonde will be part of the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Grange as a playhouse. Roelof already contributed to the Grange’s tenth anniversary for which ten companies staged (independently prepared) slices of Hamlet. This year, the organizers of the event invited the Tour Vagabonde back (two years ago, the Tour Vagabonbe stopped by the UNIL to “offer” a very provocative version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in French) and asked Roelof if he was willing to contribute something on Shakespeare. So he said yes, and decided that he would have the audience learn about Shakespeare by experiencing the pleasure of seeing one of his plays, in a commented version. “The round structure of the Globe, as well as of this miniature replica, la Tour Vagabonde, allows energy to circulate much more than in a proscenium arch theatre, and we want the audience to feel that, not just have it told them.” The theatre’s structure also helps to show what a circular architecture allows and what it does not, as far as the player-audience relationship is concerned. Everyone sees each other and there is no no man’s land between the players and the audience. The audience does not just receive the thoughts and feelings staged, it is part of these. “This circulation of the energy in which players and audience move facilitates the celebratory function of theatre, vital for comedy.”
Twelfth Night, “Shakespeare’s last comedy and one of the greatest,” will be played (mostly) in English and woven into a contextualization, in French, of the history of the Globe and of Elizabethan theatre.
Elizabeth Leemann, for Muse
Players: Gavon Balharry, Max Borg, Iris Dwir-Goldberg, Vincent Laughery, Elodie Miserez, Roelof Overmeer, Cathy Rime, Florence Rivero, Julie Sirbu, Lauri Wüsten
Musicians: Pascal Desarzens (violoncelle) and Martine Reymond (virginal)
Costumes: Lucille Kern
Lighting engineer: Sylvain Laramée