La Strada’s tour of the UK is reaching its peak with a run at London’s Other Palace, opening next week. We at Theatre Bubble had to chance to throw a few questions to the resident Fool of the company, Bart Soroczynski, who had some fantastic insights into the show’s construction and how it’s progressing.
TB: La Strada won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 1957, how does this stage adaptation differ from the film?
BS: Our stage version is very close to the film. Although in ours Gelsomina is given much more will power. Where as in the film she is only a victim of Zampano’s desires.
Secondly making the stage adaptation involved bringing a one dimensional screen version into a three dimensional stage production. We do this by integrating and blending acting with stage movement and circus. A challenge that I believe we have achieved given the positive response of the audiences.
TB: Sally Cookson is fast becoming one of the most exciting directors in the UK – what was it like to work with her?
BS: Sally is extraordinary because she gives a tremendous amount of freedom to her performers. She has a way of being gentle with the people she works with that I love. We rehearsed very much like a collective, all of us having the possibility to discuss ideas and give input beyond our own specific roles in the production. Musicians-actors-circus performers-dancers blend and are involved in all aspects of the creative process. Heaven!
TB: Have you done a lot of devised work before? What do you enjoy most from the experience?
BS: Yes I have on several occasions : Performing in two plays with the Irina Brook Theatre Company (Paris), Missing by Gecko Theatre Company, The Mouse And His Child at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Son Of A Fool by Cirque de Loin(Stage and Film, Switzerland), Katharina Knie at Theater St.Gallen(Switzerland), Benvenuto Cellini at the English National Opera, Tell Them That I’m Young And Beautiful at the Arcola Theater and Nomade by Cirque Eloize(Canada) which was my first professional engagement. This is to mention a few. Throughout my career I have drifted between contemporary circus, dance and theater. Devised work is at the base of my creative process.
I grew up in the circus, both my parents were circus performers. Traditionally circus is in its nature a collaborative experience. Growing up in the circus you are encouraged to be part of all aspects of circus life, from building up the Big Top, to practicing an instrument for a comedy routine, to learning how to do a back somersault, to building your own props and set. Your whole being is fully engaged in every possible way to make an idea become reality. It is the same for Devised Work.
For me it is the most satisfying and interesting way to create. If I could choose I would work only in this way. How awful to think that one could be limited to only one aspect of their experience!
TB: La Strada is a performance augmented by the use of live music – what does that add for you as a performer, or are there new challenges added to the experience (especially if done while riding a unicycle!)
BS: I think that now as we are heading towards a world of more and more technology, real, live experience has more and more value. If I can stand beside a musician on stage and perform live to his/her music this makes my performance so much more exciting. Much better than performing to a recording! We mutually enrich each other. We have the privilege of having a musical legend with us: Tim Dalling. What more could you ask for?
Is this not the reason why people go to the theater? No performance will ever be the same!
We live in a world where uniformity seems to be the tendency…
TB: The show is currently touring across the UK – has it evolved and adapted as you’ve gone on?
Yes, it has. I have had a lot of freedom in this show because of the character I play, Il Matto (The Fool). The name says it all. It’s my duty to play. As a rule if you truly play the audience will play along with you. You always have to be inventive within a certain framework.
We have also made changes to the end of the first and second acts half way through the tour. A decision that serves the story much better.
If someone comes back to see the play it won’t be the same.
TB: The cast are from a huge variety of theatrical and geographic backgrounds – what did that add to the performance and the devising process, with all the different approaches at work?
BS: This diversity brought immense wealth to the process! We certainly wouldn’t have achieved what we have without this variety. Although the challenge is in finding the way to make people of different backgrounds and nationalities work together and understand each other. As in society! I believe we succeeded…
Sadly we live in a world where uniformity seems to be the tendency. Or rather people and society are very much focused on themselves and tend to put the blame on others. Even more so recently! In my opinion a very selfish concept of life in general and a great mistake for the future. If only we learned how to live together and understood that diversity gives strength, imagine how much could be achieved!
You can find out more about La Strada here – it hits The Other Palace from the 30th May.