Wednesday, 22 February 2012
'Five Truths' video installation, Howard Assembly Rooms, Leeds 13th Feb 2012
The result of this research is 'Five Truths' - five performances of a single scene by five different directors, each one showing Ophelia descending into madness and played stunningly by the same actress Katie Mitchell. The five performances were videoed and then shown on two screens each, within a darkened room.
Needless to say, having entered this magical dark space the effect of these screens playing out such a harrowing scene was mesmerising, confusing and at times distressing. I found myself unsure how to view the work, standing in the middle and just glancing around or concentrating on one performance at a time. In the end, knowing I was to blog about the event I chose the latter, but of course I couldn't ignore the other performances going on around me. The almost silent and internalised Stansilavski interpretation kept being interrupted by the heart-rending wailing of Grotowski's Ophelia descending in a shuddering Bedlam of madness.
An altogether fascinating experience then, a wonderful combination of the visceral and the intellectual. I came away wanting to know more about the history of theatre direction and also remembering some of the live performances of Hamlet I have enjoyed over the years including one in Bulgaria in a floodlit castle patrolled by policemen carrying guns!
'Five Truths' continues until 25 February 2012 and there is also a 'Who Is Ophelia' installation trail around Leeds which looks rather good. Details here http://www.operanorth.co.uk/productions/installation-five-truths