Are you a creature of the theatre?
Are you a detractor of the stage?

Audition for:

We are looking for an ensemble cast of 7 people.

Auditions will be held on
Sunday, March 8th: 5pm - 8pm @ Wilson 101
Monday, March 9th: 7pm - 10pm @ Wilson 103

Callbacks will be held on 
Tuesday, March 10th: 7pm -11pm @ Sayles 306.

(raw material)

"Enough, with over-measure."

The Play

The Tragedy of Coriolanus (1608/09) is Shakespeare’s last political play with a strong background in the contemporary political and economic issues of Shakespeare’s time. With the reign of the new king, James I, the once stable political status quo was questioned by all classes, which sought to assert themselves against each other. Hard winters and poor harvests resulted in a famine, which culminated in the Midland Uprising of the peasants in 1607/08. While it is easy to draw a parallel to our reality, especially in the terms of political change and the current recession, I interpret the play to be negotiating issues that are always ongoing. 
The political aspect is discussed first and foremost as the contest between the individual and the society. Shakespeare’s text explicates that the personal and the social are always intertwined: they are linked in a complex fashion, causing each other and being effected by each other. Thus, we are faced with a dialectic, visible in both word and gesture, that speak both to the responsibility of the individual toward society as well as the power society has on the individual. 
The economical context is not only installed by the grand opening scene of the uprising citizens, who fight for their survival, but also through the language of the text itself. Shakespeare favors short lines and blunt retorts, especially in the case of Coriolanus himself. Action itself is seen as an economy to attain a certain objective and is thus in contest to rhetoric and public debate. In this way, the play confronts us with the process of decision-making and its economy: what must we invest in order to come out with profits? The dialectic between the word and the body is of course nothing less than the dialectic of theater per se, which has to make something out of something. 
Both dimensions, the political as well as the economic, find their resonance in the image of the belly: as part of the “body politic” and the recipient of food. The belly of the text, identified by one character as the “Roman state,” can also be interpreted as the “theater machine,” which needs to be fed with words and actions and will in time disclose its members as well as itself.

The Script

Coriolanus is the second longest of Shakespeare’s plays and demands extensive cuts to meet a 90 minutes running time. Nevertheless, I believe that the play will not only forgive these cuts but will reveal itself to be the very focused affair it sets out to be. I have started to edit the script and during this process I have been time and again surprised how well Shakespeare’s text lends itself to a deconstructive approach. The fact is that Shakespeare’s rhetoric, especially in this piece, is always already critiquing itself. Especially the character of Coriolanus is a masterful construct of language, battling speech with his actions and stony silences. Yet, when he speaks, he does so with a vengeance on language itself. Although Shakespeare’s language here is rather prosaic if compared to Hamlet or Macbeth, it is nevertheless very dense, displaying concentrated imagery and a wonderful rhythm. 
The production script will not only be generated out of cuts but also of additions. My main addition will be excerpts from Bertolt Brecht’s conversation on Dialectic Theater and his interpretation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. Not only will these inserts open up the distance to the text but also to the theater practice of the moment, thus creating a dialectic moment for the audience without dictating a certain reading of the text or a specific experience of the play. Rather, the deconstructed and hence re-constructed text, both of the script and the performance, will invite the audience to investigate their own assumptions of what theater should be. Another addition will be small excerpts from Thomas Bernhard’s Peymann-dramolettes. These vignettes are satirical insights into the theater machines, which recycle Shakespeare time and again, with Claus Peymann, the quasi-inheritor of Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble, as the antagonistic protagonist. In this way, the script will offer a genealogy of the Shakespearean theater market as well as the never-ending investment of the theater-makers to “make something out of Shakespeare.” The three text components will coexist in disharmony, yet the play with them will be fluent and voluble, showing the “textness” of all text. 
Coriolanus has been staged as tragedy, satire, and comedy. Since the text allows for all these varieties of staging, I would like to embrace all of these possibilities. This production will eventually be a black comedy of deconstruction - deconstruction of text, of genre, of body, of voice, of opinion, of theater - in order to bring back the theater as theater.

The Production

I do have a vision of this production as reinstalling pure theater. This does not mean that I am looking for a historical original but rather for a digging through theater histories, traditions, and rituals to get a glimpse at what theater is and can do: a playful engagement with ourselves and our times that does not deliver answers but questions. In this light, I do appreciate the fact that Shakespeare on the Green offers a very stripped performance apparatus: actors and text. 
I am often frustrated with productions of Shakespeare’s plays when actors are rushing through the text, out of time issues or insecurity, thereby losing the text for themselves and the audience. I would love to work intently with the actors, partly referring to Kristin Linklater’s book Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice, to generate a specific articulation of the text as text that is not only understandable but also productive of the performance itself. The text will be the maker of the actors, who I see in neutral costume, playing through text rather than through character. 
One of the striking images of Shakespeare’s text is the belly, which speaks of the visceral quality of the text itself. Thus, the bodies of the actors will be of utmost importance to the production. I am very interested in exploring how text is uttered through the body and how a “physical” utterance influences the text. In addition to this, I am continuously fascinated by the concept of the ‘decided body’ and its implications for scenic work. I would love to trouble the understanding of the audience in terms of their expectations of the expressive body. Furthermore, the bodies of the actors in the performance space and also especially in relation to the bodies in the audience will finely disturb the imagery of the body/belly presented in the text, based on one of Shakespeare’s sources for Coriolanus

Aesop: The Belly and the Members 

One fine day it occurred to the Members of the Body that they were doing all the work and the Belly was having all the food. So they held a meeting, and after a long discussion, decided to strike work till the Belly consented to take its proper share of the work. So for a day or two, the Hands refused to take the food, the Mouth refused to receive it, and the Teeth had no work to do. But after a day or two the Members began to find that they themselves were not in a very active condition: the Hands could hardly move, and the Mouth was all parched and dry, while the Legs were unable to support the rest. So thus they found that even the Belly in its dull quiet way was doing necessary work for the Body, and that all must work together or the Body will go to pieces. 

Thus, I hope the production can speak of the dynamics and tensions between the individual and society, the work that is invested into these relations as well as into the theater process itself. Focusing on text/voice and expression/body, I want to open up the performance for a Theater-Theater. Not only will we be working through the play Coriolanus but also through that very same work. This work will be highlighted in instants with the help of three devices: selected props (that will be identified and worked with as props), half masks (that will expose the actual masks of the actors’ faces and our own), and citations (both textual as well as physical, entering into the recycling mechanisms of our routines in the theater). As much as Coriolanus is a piece 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.
Finally, these are after all questions. My vision of the production may already seem quite comprehensive in terms of what our possibilities are. Nevertheless, I am aware that this process will be just that: a process. I do not have answers to my questions but am very curious what obstacles we will meet and how we can use them to expand our thinking on what theater does.

The Director

I am giving my official debut as a director with Coriolanus. Although I have never directed before, I do have experience in making theater. My greatest foundation as a theater practitioner is my work as the dramaturg for Hamletmaschine, directed by José Enrique Macián in 2008. This was a momentous experience for me because we were working with the text, with the bodies, with ourselves through a very intimate and open process. Currently, I am acting dramaturg for Sock & Buskin’s Cabaret, the biggest production I have worked on so far in terms of cast, crew, and budget. It has been a challenging but also an extremely enriching time for me thus far, as it taught me how to interact with a variety of departments and connect the pragmatic work behind the stage with the creative work on the stage. My philosophy of theater making and also directing derives largely from this past inspiring year of theater practice. 
I would like to make the rehearsal and performance practice for Coriolanus as candid and as deep as possible. I believe in dialectics and thus in the process of discussion, examination, and candor. It is only in hearing all voices that a plenteous interpretation of a text and of the theater process as such can be arrived at. For this reason, I will strive to make the rehearsal process a productive, generative, and intense experience for all involved, cast and crew, by cutting down hierarchies and making my own position as the director available for discourse. I see my mission as the director in the opening of doors and the challenging of opinions and I hope that I will be challenged in my opinions in return. In this way, I hope that our production will let the process of production speak itself and be an educational experience for everyone involved, including myself.