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Night 2 of The King Lear Project

Warning: written in negative, sullen mood due to impending blood test.

& to be fair must say that Tarn How who I just spoke to said he really enjoyed it. So any bad reaction should be blamed on me & not on the performance!

Wanted to write more on this (next year Darkorph, you go watch & I’ll read your impressions!) but looks like I’m going to be spending the morning/day in NUH so this is going to be quick…

Yes, I’m still glad I went. This may well get a best set/effects nomination for its hollow lego/IKEA adaptable blocks, showcase of light, sound & rain & the giant penis from outer space…

But okay, I would have liked to love it or hate it but I found it got tedious.

Plus points–Raja was great as the blinded Gloucester, liked the guys & esp Gerald & Janice too.
But I kept wondering what was Kaylene on? (I mean the character ‘Kaylene-the-director’). The character represented my idea of director from hell, aloof but needing her entourage, condescending yet uncertain, contemptuous of suggestions yet offering no direction herself… & concludes that letting the script stand alone means you don’t need actors (okay, & when a musical score stands alone you don’t need musicians or instruments?) but not needing actors you still get their voices? Oh, sorry. That was just a ploy to get them out into the foyer for the performance art postscript that I didn’t get either…

Maybe I’m missing the whole point. This was intended as a critical analysis/essay on the essence & playing of Lear, perhaps. Okay. Okay if it’s a great essay. But I got the feeling (maybe because of the scene they did last night) that they were working Jonathan Goldberg saying (paraphrase, I don’t have time to look it up before I get my venting out & leave to get my blood out) that in Edgar’s speeches the limits of Dover Cliff are the limits of theatrical representation. ie take it as far as you can/want/dream, baby!
Only he said it once in a great essay.
Last night they said it again & again (no, not just on stage–that part was fun–spieled through the DIRECTOR & PRODUCER) in lofty language with lofty pauses like a high church delivering the Word of God.

(I can hear Darkorph saying stop whinging, what actually happened?)

They played the blinding of Gloucester/Dover Cliff scenes. From different angles. With different effects/sets/interpretations. Interspersed with pontifications.

But what’s with the fast-forwarding of the action between the gouging of eyeball 1 & eyeball 2?
First time it was cute. Film director wants to show us theatre is theatre. Second time. Third time…

And I liked seeing ‘real’ actors onstage as themselves, the voyeur in me admits. I liked wondering how much of what they said/did emerged in workshop from them & how much came out of Ho Tzu Nyen (real director) or Fran Borgia (real producer)… I would have liked to see more of the real workshop process–actors meeting a role/self & adapting to it. But because their ‘real’ speeches felt fake the whole experience felt fake for me too. Maybe I was spoilt by An Oak Tree which I appreciate a lot more now. Maybe I would enjoy this more if I watched it in a foreign language (then translation would explain the strange inflections that come from voice patterns & vocab not being in synch).

And yes, there was performance art moment in the foyer after. I didn’t catch it first night because I emerged from Door 2 of the Drama Centre, chatted then left. If you emerge from Door 1 you can’t get out till the performance art is over because a swath was cut across the foyer from the shivering Gloucester & Edgar to the guys holding cameras on tripods. (‘Sony’ Heard one guy comment. ’16 by 9 so it’s probably HD. Classy. Wish I could take a closer look’) But no closer look because we were all to keep our distance. So much for interaction.

But I at least was wondering what it was meant to do. So I guess that part of the performance art worked. I mean performance art–challenges us to think about ‘theatre’ is what ‘art’ is what ‘interaction’ is right?

I will be very very happy though if it turns out that the cameras were filming the audience’s reactions to the blind shivering Lear & project that tonight as backdrop to the ‘Lear Universe’. Hope they make me happy. Hope I’m out of hospital in time to be made happy.

So we just kept our distance (as instructed. Except for Yish for kindly gave them a cover-up–my pashmina, incidentally–cos they looked so cold) and chatted about yoga videos till they moved away & we could leave.

And yes, it did make me think. Sadly, I kept thinking maybe I should have gone to watch ‘Rhinoceros’ instead.


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