Ain’t Nothing Revolutionary

Feature in Issue 4-1 | Spring 1992

Michael Harvey, who recently directed the Gambolling Guizers, reports on a workshop residency, based on Bruckners’ Woyzeck, led by Polish director Tadeusz Bradecki, 22 - 29 February 1992.

Centre for Performance Research, Cardiff.

Tadeusz Bradecki's nine day workshop managed somehow to combine and fuse elements of the real world and the actor’s sensibility without sacrifice to the importance of text and technique.

Our aim was to prepare a number of scenes from the Woyzeck and finish with an informal showing to a small invited audience. The assumption was based on the premise that theatrical activity is complete without the public.

This premise gave a focus to the work which might have been missed in a more leisurely explanation of the text. Watching Tadeusz Bradecki at work, it becomes apparent that concentration is a key factor – he continually interjects with suggestions for breath, diction or motivation to bring actors and text together.

Fascinating as this was, what took the work beyond working on scenes was Bradecki’s conviction that the actor's work extends beyond their own moments on stage to the other characters, the play as a whole, and the script’s fundamental meaning. As with any other project inertia took over two-thirds of the way through and we appeared to be working towards a conclusion. At this stage we felt that we should abandon the show but eventually a decision to work through this block made the workshop something special to all involved.

There was nothing revolutionary about what happened over the nine days; indeed, Tadeusz repeatedly apologised for offering banal advice.

What, in essence, he revealed to us was a simple and honest way of working that avoided externals and effect – executed theatrically and with integrity. The points of challenge raised by the work were, when we are asked to work from text or any other premise and are confronted by problems, do we proceed by digging deeper into the material or paper over the cracks with technical pyrotechnics?

That leaves the performer with a sobering thought – ‘am I serving the material or am I more interested in looking good?’

For further information on workshops contact the Centre For Performance Research, Market Road, Canton, Cardiff CF5 1QE. Tadeusz Bradecki is currently artistic director of the Stary National Theatre, Krakow, Poland.

This article in the magazine

Issue 4-1
p. 9