INTERNATIONALLY renowned for their interpretations of Samuel Beckett, Conor Lovett and his wife, Judy Hegarty, of Gare St Lazare, will be giving workshops to theatre practitioners at Cork’s Everyman on November 17.
Hegarty will concentrate on directing and producing, and Lovett on performance.
Gare St Lazare is also offering mentorships to two Cork-based professional theatre artists. These mentorships will focus on creativity and on the logistics of theatre production.
Lovett describes Gare St Lazare’s aesthetic as “placing the writing in the foreground. With most of the writers we’ve dealt with, the writing stands up for itself, so it doesn’t necessarily require a lot of theatricality behind it.” (As well as the work of Beckett, the company has produced new plays by Michael Harding and Will Eno, and its adaptation of Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick.)
Having performed and toured 12 solo shows, Lovett has learned how the audience becomes your scene partner, says Lovett. “You’re feeding a lot from the audience’s reactions. For actors that haven’t done solo performances, that’s very interesting to discover. At the workshop, I’ll also be talking about stripping back to one’s self and starting out with what you have physically and vocally, as a person, and adding to that where it’s needed.
“Sometimes, when the writing is so strong, you don’t need to add anything. It’s about engagement and keeping your audience with you. It’s about holding onto their attention and keeping them entertained. Sometimes, that can require very detailed, subtle changes in your performance, rather than thinking you must ‘go big’.”
It’s important to trust audiences. “They’re already engaged in what the writer is doing. As an actor, you might think that I have to make the material interesting for the audience. But, you have to remember, the play is already interesting. That’s why you’ve chosen to do it. So it’s not so much stepping out in front of the audience and showing how versatile you are. It’s about standing back and making sure the audience is following the writing.”
Hegarty is keen to impart her knowledge of running a company cottage-industry style. “We have learned a huge amount, from publicity to marketing, as well as management, casting and the technical side of things. Being able to produce work on a shoestring budget is important. With very little, you can make a huge impact,” she says.
Hegarty says directing is about hard work, tenacity of purpose and staying with the thing, no matter what. “I’m sure many careers are like that. You have to strive very hard to get through and survive. My advice is not to be afraid of setting up your own project. It applies to acting and directing. Create your own work, instead of sitting around waiting for your next job to come up. Seeing your project through to the end might mean a lot of sacrifice and less money. But if you put in the time, the results will show.”
Speaking from California, where Gare St Lazare recently produced Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, Hegarty says directing this three-hander is no different from directing solo work. “The same principles are at stake. It’s about management. It becomes a little more about people management when you have an increased cast and crew.”
Applications for the workshops and the two mentorships close on September 18. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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