Archive for October, 2013
Click here for additional information about the production.
click here to read online. Can you tell us about your background—how you grew up & came of age in Bosnia? TA: I was nineteen years old when war started in my country. I had just finished high school and wanted to go to acting academy. When war broke out my parents sent me away—thinking I was just going to be away for two weeks or something—because girls at the time, in Bosnia, had been targeted for concentration camps and all sorts of genocide. So I became a refugee very early in my life and ran around Europe trying to survive while my parents stayed during the siege. After a year of living in Germany, I went to Prague and studied in the acting academy where I eventually graduated. War ended and I went to London and different places. I just wanted to see more opportunities in theatre. Do you feel like that experience has in any way framed how you think about this play? Absolutely. When Brian (Kulick) called me a couple of months ago and asked me how I’d approach the play, I said this play is in a way very personal for me. It is very clear after twenty years now since the civil war happened, that actually the war was the war of my parents’ generation, not my generation. So my generation felt lost and it took us years to understand why it happened. In the same way that right now in my country, people who were born during the war inherited whatever happened. That hate and continuation of conflict keeps going. It’s very connected to ROMEO & JULIET. Often productions of ROMEO & JULIET play up the love aspect of the story, often at the expense of the strife and violence. What do you feel is the balance and how are you dealing with that? Yes, it’s important to find balance. One piece of research I brought in is a documentary called Sarajevo Romeo and Juliet. It’s real people on different sides, one Muslim, one Serbian. They were so much in love and together they decide to run during the siege. And they end up both being shot by both sides. Through that documentary you understand a lot about these people in a really deep way, and for some people love is violence, guns and war and power. During the war, you have to understand, people lived their lives. People who have never been in war may think, “Oh my God people are in war, they’re just sitting there lonely and crying.” You actually do everything—you fall in love, you go to school, you go to work. Even though there is no work, you just pretend and sit in front of a computer and pretend to be doing something. You’re trying to do your life. Can you talk about your process? The way we work is very collaborative, I want the acting company to give me their ideas. I want them to contribute to the process. We work from the text and I use different exercises to get it where it needs to go. My background in theatre is a mixture of many things. I did classical acting, I did contemporary work, and the Lecoq program. I do a combination of things to arrive where I think production needs to be. But it’s very collaborative. Your work moves between the avant-garde to interpretations of classical plays and then to new plays. How do you navigate those different theatrical zip codes? I never think of myself as somebody who does one style or the other style. Even when actors come in the room and ask about style, I say “I don’t know what you mean by that.” I’m very text-driven. And then I want to be theatrical, so I keep asking how is it different from TV and film? So we now understand what the text is doing, but now I have to understand why I have to come and see that in a theater. And then I find, with the company, our vocabulary—what that means. So with every production it’s different and unique in a way. It depends on the people working together. Can you tell me about the design of this production? Did you have an impulse to place it in a more contemporary image world? Many people ask me, “So how do you see it? Period or contemporary?” And I can’t answer that either. I look at it as performance art. I say, it’s a space. It’s architectural. Marsha Ginsberg is an amazing designer. She’s an installation artist, architect, and set designer. So the design came, after a lot of work and meetings, to be a space in which one can create performance. And performance is coming out of artists on stage. So that’s how I look at it. The costumes are, you could say, modern, but they are also very performative. Is there another Shakespeare play that you’re interested in working on and why? I would love to do all of them! I absolutely love it. There was an era when I was so afraid of it because, you have to understand, I’m forty years old and I started speaking English when I was 28. I did play Shakespeare in my mother tongue, but I was nervous about doing Shakespeare when I first started as a director. I didn’t feel it through my body. A couple of years ago, I’d been working a lot on new plays and I went back to reading classics on my own. I was just like, I want to do them all. They are so good. So good to see. Such good writing. And yes, I always want to make cuts to it, but he gives you so much. I’d love to do OTHELLO, HAMLET, KING LEAR. All of them. They’re just incredible.