Don Juan was a smash hit last year and a minor work of genius. How do you top that?
That's a lovely question... We try to avoid thinking that we have to make a ‘better’ piece of work or hope to out-do Don Juan. We’re making Jekyll & Hyde its own experience... so as we keep developing the show we keep posing the questions: ‘what does the show want to be and how do we bring that experience more fully into the show?’ We hope to consistently offer people great experiences that each have their own specific kind of “event”. It’s a long process. We have seen Don Juan continue to develop in its own way as well, it evolves each time we do it.
How did the show originate?
With the initial success of Don Juan we decided on following up with a series of different works in this style, for that company of performers. We thought classic texts were a good starting point, since they let us blend the old, larger-than-life myths/folktales with very domestic and contemporary problems and anxieties. We picked Jekyll & Hyde for its Penny-dreadful, thriller, supernatural qualities: as a way of using the monster (Hyde) to look at the anger, frustration and rage that we all feel in our ordinary lives. Hyde can do the things that Jekyll never can, and to play with this boldness is a way of celebrating the darkness within each of us: how we stifle our desires to try and be ‘good.’ It’s a celebration of our desire (and continual failure) for boldness.
Without giving too much away what can you tell us about the show?
You know those friends who always get you into trouble when you go out together? It’s as if these guys are throwing a party. It’s chaos.
Tell us about the writing process, how much was scripted versus developed through improvisation?
The ideas are often sketched out and then we play with them on the floor until we discover if/how the individual bits work. We often bring in outsiders who are willing to come and hang out, and then we play with them as we make the work. We also do a lot of test showings to audience members and improvise through material that way. A few months after the season, we watch the video and draft up the script of what lines were actually said as a tool for developing the next iteration of the show.
Have your French accents improved?
I think they’ve somehow gotten worse…
Any favourite moments from developing / rehearsing the show?
I can remember the one Friday afternoon in the first week of rehearsals when we were first creating the show in 2016. It was about 4pm and we were all delirious from the long week. We were literally in hysterics for about 5 minutes: actually rolling on the floor with laughter. I don’t remember any of the jokes or offers that were made (and we definitely didn’t use any of them in the show). From any rational perspective, it was an inefficient few hours of making and could easily be considered a waste of time. We were all being very vulgar and completely profane.
But reflecting on that moment I think it was very important for the work.
The chaos, the profanity, the joy, the absolute hysterics we were in are hugely important to the culture of our company that we continue to build every time we rehearse or perform.
Working like this means we are able to unlock that feeling for the audience. It’s a very intimate thing to laugh together and play together…we tend to reserve it for our close friends (and maybe our family if we’re lucky)… but if strangers on the street came up and started interacting with us like that we’d think they were crazy, being antagonistic or hostile … or at least wonder what they wanted from us. To be able to safely and freely celebrate in this way is invaluable for community.
Don't miss this rollicking good time at the Basement from 4 - 15 Jul in the theatre. Find out more and book here.