Every director has a dream project, a challenge that they must face; for Anatoly Frusin it’s Samuel Beckett. Along with his chosen actors Avikal, Linda Rutledge and April Galetti, and lighting designer Sandesh Gibney, he is working up an exciting new offering for theatre lovers. Anatoly spoke to Mandy Nolan.
Why have you chosen Samuel Beckett? It has been a lifelong dream of mine as a director to create these very challenging plays. They are like a miniature Mount Everest of the theatre and I remember reading Not I at school and being blown away.
Did you choose the plays with the cast in mind? Yes. The plays are so challenging for the actors that it was imperative to have the right people. I have worked with these performers previously and I knew they could rise to the challenge.
Tell me about the cast – what are there main strengths? Samuel Beckett plays require the actors to have great technical abilities. They need to be able to learn huge amounts of lines. They need stamina and emotional honesty and the ability to not act as ‘normal’ acting but able to reveal their souls.
What are the themes that you think Beckett speaks to that are relevant today? Beckett looks at what it really means to be human in the rawest sense. Absurd humour of relationships; terror of loneliness; what it actually feels like to be alive and vulnerable. Samuel Beckett was able to create this. His plays are not a theme but a reality. They are not plays to think about but to experience in a very deep way, like great music, which is also being performed between the plays.
How are you approaching the staging? Beckett is notoriously famous for being very exact and specific about what he wants on stage. Very specific images that can be challenging to get exactly right. It all adds fun to the rehearsals, but is difficult. We are collaborating with Susie Olsen, who is making the famous urns that encase the actors in the first play.
What are some of the major challenges? Learning the dialogue, creating the special effects, eg the mouth hanging in mid-air speaking. The stage pictures are a cross between surrealist paintings, science fiction, a nightmare and a fairy tale – the table and chairs must be just right.
What are some of your current in-rehearsal triumphs? Seeing the acting and the musicality coming together. Recreating what Samuel Beckett had in his mind. Very moving, beautiful music on the cello. Tears watching another actor’s performance.
How close are you to being ready on the night? We’ll be ready.
What should the average theatregoer be taking away with them from the shows? A sense of being very emotionally moved, a sense of participating in a ritual in which we feel our shared humanity. Having seen and heard something very beautiful. Beckett is considered the most influential writer of the 20th century and it is very exciting to be a part of his world.
Three by Samuel Beckett – PLAY, NOT I & OHIO IMPROMPTU. Drill Hall Theatre, Mullumbimby. 7:30pm Friday 15 June, 7:30pm Saturday 16 June, 6:00pm Sunday 17 June. Tickets: $22/$18 from The Bookshop, Mullumbimby and Barebones Art Space, Bangalow. Group bookings phone 0417 595 067.