i i i

l l

tnade us do one anyway. There were various things that we had to get them to accept. but it was a very good collaboration on many different counts.‘

Apart frotn the NT's enthusiastic support. the resources of time. space and money allowed (‘omplicite a creative freeedom which previously has been hard earned. The technical back- up meant the company could get on with the business of making theatre. while someone else was side-tracked by practicalities. And more money allowed the company to employ ten actors a typically eclectic mix of Swiss. German. Spanish. Scottish and English giving McBurney the chance to develop a more complex web of family and social relationships. hierarchies and chorus work. that a smaller cast could only approximate.

‘I don’t have a character, i’ve never done a good scene, I don’t know what I’m doing, why am I here, what are you

putting me through?’

From then on in. life was much the same in the rehearsal room. Working from the stories of Bruno Schulz. a Polish Jew employed by the Nazis to sort books in 19-12. Complicité began a long process of readings. improvisations and physical exercises that would eventually become The Street of Croemliles. ‘At the same time as we were moulding scenes. so we were moulding characters and it was very iluid.‘ McBurney explains. ‘There comes a point in a rehearsal where everyone starts to panic: “I don't have a character. I’ve never done a good scene. I don‘t know what I'm doing.

why am I here. what are you putting me

through?" Then gradually it starts to gel. The pleasure of what we do is that we then continue to develop it as it goes along. so that it tends to get better

Childhood dreams in Theatre de Complicité’s Street of Crocodiles

3 and better. It certainly moves and

changcsf Comparing the work of Schulz to that

of absurdists writing several decades

later. McBurney praises the author‘s

fantastic vision and his observation of

mundane boredom. 'The whole notion

of slack time. boredom if you like. is fundamental to Schull's work.‘ he says.

‘lt‘s repetitive. it's about people sitting

round at dinner very bored. it‘s a

rhythmical thing. It becomes comic in

the same way that it does in Pinter or

Beckett. Beckett has a total feel for

slack time that's very. very funny. Not

many people know Schulz’s writing.

but he was a brilliant surrealist and

fantasist whose subject matter was

; essentially autobiographical. taken from his childhood. But rather than

g simply naming the events he went

. though. his child became transformed

; by the power of his adult fantasy and

3 the world in his stories is seen through the fantasies of a child. It's a made-up world. but it‘s resting on a bed rock of

the truth of a child's imagination.’

Audience response has been sharply

divided. Because the story is told through atmosphere. people looking for a conventional linear narrative can be left bemused. In Sydney. meanwhile.

the director heard audiences sobbing at

the end of the show. so taken were they

by the abstract power of its emotion. ‘It has a very classical structure to it. in

the sense that it is an act of memory.’

he claims. in spite of its horrific twists

and dream-like logic. ‘Il begins in

spring then gradually moves into

summer then autumn then winter. It starts in youth and finishes in old age. It begins in dreams and progresses into

a nightmare. But it requires an

imaginative engagement on behalf of

the audience. I like people to listen with

a musical car. which is also very un-

; British; to hear the quality of the sound.

i rather than necessarily understanding

every word.‘

' Street of Crocodiles. Tranm'uy. Glasgow. Tue 9~Sat [3 Mar. Traverse Theatre. Iftlt'rtbufiflt. Mon lZ—Sat I7Apr.

: writing in post-Union times, yet In his

, Cdon Von Horvath’s death must surely

From War, one of Norvath’s later i works, displays many of Brecht’s


The hottest property in Russian theatre right now is an Englishman living in Norfolk whose work has never been professionally produced in Britain. This man is the first non- Russian ever to have a new play premiered at the Moscow Arts Theatre and currently has two plays in repertory both there and at leading provincial rep, the Saratov Theatre. His success has sparked off a fiery debate about the state of new Russian

reading at the Mayakovsky Theatre led to a two-and-a-half year rehearsal period and the eventual malor Moscow success at the end of last year. Meanwhile, The Scapegoat had attracted the interest of Edinburgh’s Traverse which, unable to produce it in the year of its big move, passed it on to Fifth Estate. ‘The main event in the play,’ says Paton, who admits to finding it very odd being controversial in Russia and unknown In Britain, ‘ls l based on General Teiero who went into 3 the Spalnsh parliament, fired shots ; 2 into the air and said I'm taking over, I but failed. The main character in my 3 Edinburgh’s Fifth Estate means to 3 play wants to do that and does take remedy by presenting two of his plays, over parliament and overthrow The Scapegoat and The Dodo, over the ; democracy. In that sense, the one course of this year. Not before time ' country it’s not about is Spain. It’s either. Paton’s closest brush with

about Chile, Argentina, Peru, Russia, success came 18 years ago when the it’s about what could happen here. it’s celebrated critic Kenneth Tynan, by

non-naturalistic and very theatrical then a dying man, saw an amateur and the irony of me opening at the fringe production of The Dodo and Moscow Arts Theatre is that my raved about it, even asking to see a writing is just not in the Chekhov copy of the script. Nothing came of tradition of naturalism. And the press that, however, and it was only when

review we got at the opening actually Paton organised a reading of The Dodo said, “The Dodo has now taken its while he was living in Paris, that a

place next to The Seagull.” (Mark Russian emigrée who happened to be

Fisher) in the audience offered to show the The Scapegoat, Fifth Estate, Tron play to her contacts back home. A

Juan tep beyond

sh _

native country, he is unknown. Clive Paton is not a household name, though that’s a situation that

. 3 *3:

a sf



A . .. “‘1’ b

A . f t? ~ Don Juan Comes Back from the War political concerns in the course of recounting lion Juan’s search for his fiancee. Director Leslie Finlay has assembled an impressive team for the New Stage Theatre production of this play, which challenges a six-woman cast to undertake thirty-five different roles. The team also includes designer Bevis Evans Teush, who worked on The 3 Ship, and Bodymap costume designers, 5 famous for revealing Micheal Clark’s 1 bottom. Finlay hopes the stage design, 5 inspired by the work of Max Ernst, will ' reflect ‘the strange dark atmosphere’ that lies beneath the surface of Norvath’s writing. The play is set in a forest, with trees on trolleys - a reference to the Norvath statement that people become frightened in forests while the real terror is in the city street as it certainly was for him. (Stephen Chester)

rate as one of the most bizarre in the history of piaywrlting. The superstitious Cerman writer had consulted a clairvoyant, who told him he must go to Paris, where he would undergo the ‘greatest journey of his life’. Accordingly, he arrived in Paris, but became so terrified he refused to leave his room. Being a political exile from the Third Reich his fears were possibly not entirely due to superstition, but eventually he was enticed out by a friend to see a production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. On leaving the theatre on the Champs Elysées a tree fell on him and he was killed instantly.

His work, already proscribed by the Nazis, fell into neglect, and it wasn’t until the 70s that his plays were rediscovered on the continent, where he is now perceived as an equal to his peer Brecht. Don Juan Comes Back

Don Juan Comes Back From The War, l 1 New Stage Theatre, on tour, 3-20 Mar. i

The List 26 February~—l l March 1993 45