I can’t do anything about it anyway. So I might as well not try.
Sound familiar? Dealing with the anxiety of climate change and the destruction of the planet for the past two weeks has almost sent our cast into a paralysis. Cosmic Fear is all about three people trying to deal with this paralysis – three people trying to take action instead of just talking. So after a week of table work, highlighting facts and events in the style of good old Stanislavski, we’ve now moved on to do what might actually be the first step to personally save planet earth – experiencing the problem in our bodies. It seems like the only way we can really explore the weight of this issue is to actually embody it. Talking about it will just end in the team’s collective mental breakdown.
Director Kay Michael has been working with the cast on embodiment and exploring the game within the play through various exercises that have literally turned our little hub of Room One into an apocalyptic consumer-explosion. Costumes and props galore have been covering the floor for two weeks now, providing the actors with plenty of opportunities to play. They’ve created a superhero film trailer for climate change SAVE PLANET EARTH to cut to the core of the issues the characters are trying to solve. They’ve mirrored clips of Brad and Angelina in famous scenes, trying to replicate their tempos (Laban style) and qualities, creating the heroes of our Cosmic Fear. With movement director Sara Green they’ve explored how a mental paranoia can manifest itself through movement and personal tics. They’ve even created their own survival uniform for when destruction is knocking at the door.
The first week was all about dissecting this beast of a play. Digging deep into the issues most of us have ignored – things we all know but have stored somewhere at the back of our brains. The actors brought in images, research and videos and by trying to create a very real environment and relationship for the three, the otherwise slightly obscure structure of the text now makes perfect sense to all of us (or so we hope!). Kay’s work searches for detail and imagination, and with our brilliant cast members Sam Ducane (B), Jessica Sian (A) and Jack Gordon (C) what seemed like a hurricane of complex ideas is now a piece of performance that demands a presence in the room. With this process of fine textual detail and a vast physical exploration I feel this play is becoming something that will turn New Diorama and Edinburgh upside down. We’re two weeks in, and already marrying the physical exploration with the almost overwhelming research – one more week and our three paranoid Brad’s will be ready to give global warming a good kick.
— Guest blogger: Camilla Gürtler, Assistant director
Cosmic Fear or The Day Brad Pitt Got Paranoia previews at New Diorama’s Incoming Festival on 3rd July, before transferring to Bedlam Theatre for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.
Our Assistant Director, Chelsey Gillard, reflects on the work we’ve been immersed in on our last day in the rehearsal room….
Where to start?
Cosmic Fear certainly isn’t a text I would ever be able to begin to understand on my own. I always think of theatre as a team sport and thankfully this team is amazing! The first reading with the performers on Monday suddenly unlocked the frantic rhythms of the text and made it a much more tangible thing – a performable thing.
Exploring such huge and ‘worthy’ topics through Kay’s exciting mix of game play and discussion, has allowed the performers to stay free. One minute we can be discovering the horror of ship breaking in developing countries, the next earnestly discussing the impact of cow farts on the environment and then trying to embody the ridiculous gloriousness of Angelina Jolie.
The refreshing thing for me about Cosmic Fear is that there is no apathy. The characters within the play may have no idea what they are fighting for or how to achieve it but still they try. It’s certainly a recurring idea within the text, “It doesn’t matter. As long as you do it.” But of course you then get caught up again in the self perpetuating cycle of the whys and hows, to the point of re-establishing inertia.
Structurally this piece is genius in its imitation of that cycle of having a great idea and trying to passionately articulate it only to realise the cracks that lie within. The twists of normal conversation become the sections of the play – running away with enthusiasm only to be paralysed by paranoid fear.
This play has made me question what are we fighting for? Really fighting for? Of course we know that climate change is bad, the destruction of biodiversity is bad, natural disasters are bad. But what does this mean for us as the human race? Can Utopia exist and what would that look like? Do we need to reach rock bottom, the apocalypse or rapture before we can come out the other side? Or is life and death just the way of things in which the human race and even Planet Earth are only given a limited amount of time? And if we do strive for a better planet, to reduce climate change, who are we doing it for? Can one human being make a difference, what do our cultural leaders think and what are our governments doing?
Amongst these questions I’ve discovered so much this week; from the surprising fact that carrots are only orange thanks to selective breeding, to the radical views of Deep Green thinkers. Yet still I’m no closer to understanding what the play means. I’m hoping that one of you may be able to help me work it out. But I am certain that tomorrow’s sharing will be exciting, entertaining and make you laugh but also leave you questioning your own stance of the issues presented.
If you do leave wanting to take some kind of action but you aren’t sure how, here are a few ideas, judge them as you will.
Scattered through this blog post are some links to interesting articles we have discovered as a small part of our research. I hope you also find them in some way useful or at least entertaining.
And see you tomorrow, 7.30pm, at The Other Room, for our first scratch performance of this maddening play!
Haven’t booked your ticket yet? Book now!
We caught up with the cast rehearsing Then Silence at the Arcola last week to find out how the show was shaping up. Take a look at this peak behind the scenes for more information. A huge thanks to Hannah Lovell for recording and editing the video with us.
I’m thrilled to announce the cast for our forthcoming development of Arne Lygre’s Then Silence.
Brother – Peter Clements
Peter trained at Drama Centre London.
Recent theatre includes: The 39 Steps (Vienna’s English Theatre), Love Me Do (Watford Palace Theatre), US premiere of Remembrance of Things Past (92nd Street Y, New York), A Dashing Fellow (New Diorama); Afraid of the Dark (Charing Cross Theatre); All Saints (King’s Head Theatre); Interval (Arcola); Deathwatch (Roundhouse); Blackshirts (National Theatre Studio); The Criminals (Platform Theatre); Looking for Vi (Riverside Studios).
Television credits include: Escape from Sobibor for PBS America.
Film credits include: Fair Game, Just Visiting.
One – Peter Hobday
Peter trained at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London
Theatre includes: The Cherry Orchard (Young Vic), Bird (Forward Theatre Project, UK Tour); Say it with Flowers (Hampstead); On Misanthrope (Etcetera Theatre); Hugh (Arcola); Sold (Pleasance Courtyard); The Edge (New Diorama) and Divine Words (Central School of Speech and Drama).
Opera includes: The Way Back Home (Young Vic), Written on the Skin (Royal Opera House and European Tour).
Film includes: Roses in Winter.
Television includes: The Mimic.
Another – James Marchant
James trained at Drama Centre London.
Theatre credits include: The Straits (Paines Plough) and Mudlarks (The Bush).
Television credits include: All About George (ITV), Waking the Dead (BBC), Lie with Me (ITV), Eastenders (BBC), and Blackbeard (Dangerous Films). His film credits include Lake Placid 3 (Sony Pictures)
For more information on Then Silence, or to book tickets please click here.