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The Performances





















(photographs by Katrin Dettmer)

Director's Note

From the very first, Coriolanus has struck me as a play about theatre machines. Apart from its very own textual negotiations of the theatre of politics, it has also inspired a variety of other theatre texts, which wrestle with the complex power structures depicted on and off “stage” in Coriolanus. We have invited these texts by Brecht, Müller, Grass, and Bernhard to challenge Shakespeare and be in turn challenged by Shakespeare. The deconstructed and hence re-constructed text, both of the script and the performance, are inviting you, the audience, to investigate your own assumptions of what theater is and should be. This production wants to speak of the dynamics and tensions, the work and the labor, which are invested into the theater process itself – by the performers, but also by the audience. As much as Coriolanus is a play about how politics work, the production itself will disclose its own politics in terms of producing and destroying of theater and making it thus visible as theater – a theater that is not removed or without consequence, but a theater that is immediate and visceral, producing and reproducing, sabotaging and fixing itself, a machine that includes actors, crew, and audience.

Katrin Dettmer

Impressions From A Rehearsal









Dramaturgical Note

Questions of body and voice, performative and non-performative, are central to the drama of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, and thus of course to our own production.  From the play’s earliest moments, when the patrician elder Menenius utilizes Aesop’s fable of “The Belly and its Members” to figure the Roman gentry as the life-giving center of the restless plebeians, the political and dramatic power of Shakespeare’s text is located in the corporeal bodies of its actors.  Conflict is found in the way they control and manipulate their own and one another’s beings and voices.  Thus Coriolanus’ fame as a war hero is essentialized in his bodily wounds; the democratic power of the plebeians is conveyed through their “voices”.  And in the drama’s climactic moment, the fate of Rome is secured by a mother’s bodily supplication.  These are actions of character, motivated and plot driven.  And yet, as is the subtle genius of Shakespeare’s dramatic ability, the actions of his characters are consistently problematized and questioned.  Caius Marcius is unwilling to bare his wounds to the common folk, to twist his voice and body to gain the votes of “Hob and Dick”.  The plebeians are unsure in their power of decision, allowing their elected officials to maneuver their voices against Marcius.  Thus questions of power, of ownership and responsibility, are complicated in the original text, as in our production. For what happens when one voice becomes many?  When one body is spread over five?  How can our staging here today further illuminate these innate textual complications?  Such are the questions we, Shakespeare, Müller, Brecht and even good old Thomas Bernhard pose to you, questions of staging and creating performance that remain beautifully, delightfully unanswered.

Jessica Goldschmidt

Impressions From Early Rehearsals










(photographs by Jessica Goldschmidt, Tori Harvey, and Katrin Dettmer)

Robert Creeley, Some afternoon

 

Why not ride

with pleasure

and take oneself

as measure,

 

making the world

tacit description

of what’s taken

from it

 

for no good reason,

the fact only.

There is a world

elsewhere, but here

 

the tangible faces

smile, breaking

into tangible pieces.

I see

 

myself and family,

and friends, and

animals attached,

the house, the road,

 

all go forward

in a huge

flash, shaken

with that act.

 

Goodbye, goodbye.

Nothing left

after the initial

blast but

 

some echo like this.

Only the faded

pieces of paper

etc.