All photographs credit Studio Canno
(4 / 5)
Of Mice and Men is a story of loneliness and misunderstandings. I remember studying this literary art in high school, but I didn’t notice the finer details, only the outline.
On Wednesday I watched Of Mice and Men presented by August 012, at Chapter ArtCentre. The outline of the story is two friends, George Milton and Lennie Small who are two workers in the Great Depression. To escape their cruel reality they share a distant dream that persuades them they will own their and land, “an’ live of the fat of the land.” This dream swirls colours of great happiness into their lives.
I do not want to cut curiosity out of the plot, so I will express little of this element. There are two stern problems blocking their dream. Lenny has an intellectual disability, and naively often strokes problems at work. And George and Lennie need ‘stake’ (money) from work so they can whirl their dream into reality.
I rate this production four stars. Why? Because the production was extraordinary. It had a partial modern theme which drew out the connection that many of the problems in Of Mice and Men still exist today, if you thin your eyes. Additionally, the production style conflates imagination with reality through dreamy description and because the audience’s seats are placed on an empty stage an immersive reality surrounds you (plus you may be able to play cards with the characters!)
I would recommend anyone reading this to book a ticket, and visit the world Of Mice and Men because its performance style will enlighten tenebrous learnings. One element of the production I noticed during this production was all of the characters were Greatly Depressed, but they wiped their tears and some tried to smile and others frowned. For example: Callous Curley, always had a curled fist most likely because he felt lonely, but due to his expected masculine role he couldn’t express his feminine emotions so he was always steaming frustration. Consequently, Curley’s wife felt lonely, and wandered looking for company and due to expected feminine roles she likely thought the only way to attract a man’s attention was by swirling hips.
I would like to thank all involved in the production Of Mice and Men for their creative minds, and extraordinary performance style – it was striking.
Diversity in society is a huge issue to consider. Everywhere is trying to be more encompassing to disabled members of the public, there is more than ever a stamping out of racism and discrimination in all senses.
But why, while much of it is now law, does the arts sector, and notably for this blog post, the theatre, is it not the same?
Act For Change has been alive for around 1 year now, set up by performers who came from what would be known in society as ‘minority groups’. This relates to gender, race, sexual orientation, ability and so on. Its’ aim is to stamp these discriminatory habits even more out of the theatre world.
With testimonies, a Q & A challenging the NT Artistic Director, discussion from a panel and Q & A with the audience, ending on a video of more of those in the industry discussing the subject, AFC covered all basis. And made a real imprint in this industry.
Not enough is being done in encompass disabled performers. While across conference it was a valid consensus that there is an argument of whether the industry should make more theatre showing the stories of individuals in all these sectors or whether casting should be looking for sheer talent and not who they are. While it is a fine line, it seemed that less is being done for disabled performers. Not many are an option, and not much theatre looks at their stories.
A perfect quote I found from the night said, ‘If you want to tell a story you have to tell your own story’.
Different ethnicities, genders and orientations felt the same. Theatre is a way of breaking barriers and addressing taboos and why, on that note, should issues not be addressed that are found in these communities? But why also, are these communities not also celebrated in theatre more? Let’s be honest, many other cultures are more vibrant and exciting that the tweed, tea drinking, white, middle class stereotypes that are continuously produced on stage. Why do we not see this?
Many performers also felt that there was the issue of not being cast because of who they are. Where are the character’s that just happen to be gay? Or female? Or Asian? Does this really need to be such a vital factor? There are gay bankers, female lorry drivers, Asian actors! Why is it that people cannot focus on talent and not on the view of the person entering the room.
Conferences just like these are important to change opinions. Since the blunt interview with the NT artistic director, there has been a change where more theatre is now going to be brought to the NT with a basis on disabled stories and performers, what a difference this makes.
Theatre needs to be not only bring realism and for something for people to admire, but it does need to bring escapism. It needs to stop being run by the elite, and more representative of the people.
More info on Act For Change can be found here;