What is ‘Titus Andronicus’ about?
It’s a revenge tragedy and a very dark comedy; although sometimes it can’t be seen as a comedy as some of the plots and subplots contain pretty shocking storylines. The play is set in the multi-millionaire business world, with an American Psycho aesthetic.
Why did you choose ‘Titus Andronicus’ as a play to put on?
It’s not one that’s done very often, and I think this is because it’s such a graphic play and because its not on the school curriculum, so it’s not heard of that much. So it’s quite a tricky one to perform and direct but it’s going to be entertaining!
What changes have you made to Shakespeare’s original play?
Quite a few, we edited it to cut it down because the original is about three hours long, and we’ve managed to get it down to two hours! We’ve also actually changed quite a lot of the characters into women, in Shakespeare’s original play the majority of characters are male, and we’ve got a lot of actors who are multi-rolling so that there are more female characters. We wanted to see a lot of characters from the woman’s point of view.
Why do the play as a black comedy?
Well it is considered to be a dark comedy, not because the storylines are particularly funny, it’s because of how terrible the things are and how we like a lot of the characters. Of course, when they do all of this atrocious stuff its just so absurd you can’t help but laugh at it! This absurdity kind of creates a nervous laughter because there are 14 deaths and severed heads!
Have you enjoyed directing the play? What have you enjoyed the most?
Yes, so far it’s been really good! I’ve never directed at this level (of The Gulbenkian) before. I think figuring it out with the cast and working together has been really fun. It’s been 50/50 with the cast in that I’ll give them some direction with the script, but with a lot of it I like to give them the reins and let them go with what feels natural to them. It’s also been really nice getting to know a whole new group of people, there are ten first years out of a cast of fifteen.
What has been the most challenging part so far of directing ‘Titus Andronicus’?
Trying to remember and understand what everything Shakespeare wrote means! Also, trying to direct in a seminar room, is very different to directing in the Gulbenkian! In the Gulbenkian, the audience is on all three sides of the stage, so having to remember how to position actors has been difficult.
Have you found directing at the Gulbenkian challenging at all?
Yes! It could change because we’re still in the early stages. But so far it’s been difficult! We’ve got someone coming in to teach us about stage combat which will be helpful, so it’s just a case of trying to remember how big the space is and how it would work for our play.
What age range is this play aimed towards?
14+, just because of the graphic content and all the blood! Come at your own risk!
If you could play any part in the play, which one would it be?
Tamora is one of the best parts for a woman as she’s such a powerful female figure, which is quite rare to find with works of Shakespeare. Or, Aaron who is wonderful as well, he’s sort of the villain of it all, but he’s so charming and seductive you sort of fall in love with him, which is why everything that he does is all the more shocking!
If you could describe the play in three words, what would they be?
Bloody, Powerful and Tragic.
T24 are presenting Titus Andronicus at The Gulbenkian on Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd November. Tickets range from £5-£10 and are on sale on the website or at The Gulbenkian box office.