Inbox: Andrew Buckland

Feature in Issue 14-3 | Autumn 2002

The latest of our e-mail questionnaires.

Your name?

Andrew Buckland.

How would you describe yourself and your occupation?

I am co-creator of Mouthpeace's The Well Being with Lionel Newton and Lara Foot-Newton. I am lucky enough at the moment to be employed by the Drama Department at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, as an associate professor, but I have the strong feeling that I am a better actor/performer/theatre maker than I am a teacher.

What do you think was the best example of theatre you've seen in the past year?

The most inspiring work I have seen was a production called Immortale by Il Ristorante – truly inspirational. Moving, exquisitely skilful, beautifully timed, performed and directed by a group of geniuses.

Which of your own artistic achievements are you most proud of?

The Well Being is the culmination of a series of works starting in 1986, in which we (myself and other members of the Mouthpeace company) have tried to develop a style of theatre which employs the imaginations of the audience to take them on a fantastical journey using as little as possible in the way of theatrical tricks, but relying on the power of the physical and the skill of the players.

If you could change one thing (in yourself, your life/art or anything anywhere), what would it be?

I would like to make more facilities and training institutions available to the learner theatre-makers of the Eastern Cape in South Africa. Because of the history of this country there are thousands of talented people who, given the opportunity, could contribute to the development of a world theatre in a unique and most extraordinary way, but are still lacking the basic training facilities and opportunities.

What does the term Total Theatre mean to you?

Much of the work we do – although this is not something we set out to do – is to discover what is this thing called Total Theatre. I believe there is no answer except the pursuit of the answer. The point of the quest is the quest itself. Our answers are in the area of theatre which relies on the skill of the player and the director to create work which engages the audience in a creative conversation with the players, and which moves everybody involved towards some kind of awareness.

Your manifesto for theatre?

Still working on this. Theatre is our most fundamental creative activity and is the primary means of our evolution as a species, and as such needs continually to be reinvented. Theatre is Dead! Long Live Theatre!

Mouthpeace began in 1986 when Andrew Buckland was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artists Award for Drama. Since then, they have created many shows including: No Easy Walk (inspired by the work of Nelson Mandela), Between the Teeth, Bloodstream, Feedback, Human Race, The Water Juggler, and Makana. Mouthpeace's The Well Being returns to the UK in spring 2003.

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Issue 14-3
p. 11