Ahead of our 2020 performances in Milan, London, Madrid and Paris, Fausto Cabra, who plays Vindice in The Revenger’s Tragedy, told us about his experience working with Declan and Nick.
Declan Donnellan is among the very few living directors who takes a risk and works on the ‘substance’ first.
His work starts from the human beings who are venturing on a journey on the stage together. Ideas, images, expedients, special effects, breath-taking scenes, the director’s intelligent rendition of a play must be subordinate to that starting point. Two bodies and the words should manage to communicate the meaning and the feeling of whatever little (but I’d say whatever huge) they encapsulate, which is humanity.
“How do you make a kind of theatre that will be completely and deeply alive?”
But how do you repeat those words for hundreds of performances and make them feel as if they were being born there and then for the first time? How do you stay completely in the ‘here and now’? How do you make a kind of theatre that will be completely and deeply alive?
What Declan and Nick do is explore the essence of the question: how do you reproduce life? Almost any other kind of ‘formal’ research vanishes in its own selfishness before their work.
Declan and Nick’s theatre is not just extremely necessary today but, within the context of the hyper-capitalistic and predominantly individualistic society we live in, it is also revolutionary as it overturns the principles of that society. It builds a space in which the ability of human beings to put their love for life at the centre of their social system.
A true political theatre today can only work on life. Life spreads like a contagion, it feeds on contact. The only means to shake a dying citizen is the contact with something that is deeply alive. This is a unique prerogative of theatre (as opposed to other media) since it is the only medium that can be alive: it happens here and now, in front of the audience. To stay alive on stage (and without lowering the stakes of exceptional characters and situations) is certainly the most difficult challenge today, but surely the only one that’s truly necessary.
“Donnellan and Ormerod do a humane and incarnate theatre, and therefore an overwhelming one.”
Donnellan and Ormerod are among the very few artists in the world (and not only within the boundaries of theatre) who understand that this is the only area of investigation that is really vital and politically revolutionary today. They are among the very few artists active who don’t lack the courage to engage in this laborious challenge.
Of course, there is a price to pay in committing to this line of work and it may be the hardest (and the most noble) act. It is to put your ego aside in order to be open to meet with other people and to respect life, and every evening I go on stage with Vindice I experiment my failure.
In an era ruled by individualism, to really see others is the hardest act for a man and for an artist.
Donnellan and Ormerod do a humane and incarnate theatre, and therefore an overwhelming one.
In order to work with life, one must accept death (which is obsessively removed and hidden by the ‘forever young’ society) because being in the ‘here and now’ is extremely ephemeral and deeply deadly.
To me, an Italian actor, an audience member and a European citizen, this is what makes Cheek by Jowl unique, distinctive, modern, revolutionary, deeply political, European, vital and most importantly, new theatre.
My hope is, in their work with the Italian actors of The Revenger’s Tragedy, that Donnellan and Ormerod’s approach might become an example and a guiding light for Italian theatre, inspiring its future work. I don’t know if as an actor I have succeeded in this challenge, but I am certainly trying with all my strength, enthusiasm and will.