Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Act 2: An Act of Twisting Reaches The Bierkeller

Last time I handed my blog over to the lovely Natalie Remington, but now, as we perform in Bristol, it's back to me.

It's only been a couple of weeks since I saw the team, but I have missed them, as they have kept me laughing on and off stage for the last couple of months. 'An Act of Twisting' is a dark comedy about torture and it's been great to perform with three ladies who genuinely make me laugh.

Kate with The Captive Combatant Image Copyright Hannah Drake 2013

A humourous play about such a serious subject might sound incongruous but it's not flippant, it's deeply satirical. When Hannah (Drake, our Director) first discussed the play with me, she explained that Ian's initial inspiration came from a question: 'What would happen if you put the WI (Women's Institute) in charge of torture?'. It's an interesting, absurd premise and although the play has moved on from that idea, 'An Act of Twisting' introduces a group of women set the unenviable task of improving the National standards of torture and the man on whom they will be 'practising' their new techniques.

What I particularly like about the play is, although it sets up the premise that it will be a story about being a woman and how torture affects women, you realise that it's about being human and how torture forces us to question our human identity.

'The cruelest technique of all...' Image Copyright Hannah Drake 2013

As part of the rehearsal process we researched methods discussed in the play, such as Waterboarding and references to the effects of torture, such as The Stockdale Paradox, but ultimately we found ourselves exploring questions around being human and what drives people to torture others as well as the justifications for torture, all of which influence how our characters see their world. So I thought I'd include a couple of links to some of the topics we found ourselves discussing. Some are directly related to the play and some indirectly, but equally interesting:

Journalist Christopher Hitchens being Waterboarded (YouTube Video)
Jim Audio file about The Stockdale Paradox
Wikipedia Entry: The Milgram Experiment
Information is Beautiful diagram: Left vs Right (US)
TED talk from Dr James Fallon

It's in the dark side of the research that you find the light. They often say that truth is stranger than fiction and sometimes the gags write themselves, never more so than in the reference to Michael Bolton's music in the show: it's true. I'm not going to give it away here, you'll have to see the show to understand what I am talking about, but, according to Ian's research, it's true.

Penelope gives a little demonstration. Image Copyright Hannah Drake 2013

The Bierkeller is a completely different space when compared to the Rondo, but it creates a more intimate experience and keeps it fresh for us as we find new things and new ways of approaching moments in the play. Which can be challenging, but also a lot of fun!

All in all, it's a great show, and we've had a brilliant response from our audiences. We finish at the Bierkeller on Thursday, 4th April so, at the time of posting, you only have to two more chances to catch the show in Bristol. It starts at 8pm and it would be great to see you there!

PS - I'd just like to say a huge thank you to our formerly 'undisclosed captives', Phil Coote, Calum Anderson and Ben Crispin, who spend the entire show gaffered to the chair (not all at the same time)!


Tickets for 'An Act of Twisting'
The Bierkeller Theatre Website
Hannah Drake's Interview with 17percent

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