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Mutambara way off the mark

Instead, they must wear an earpiece through which they hear voices.

They are the voices of real people, from interviews conducted by Blythe, and the actors must imitate them as precisely as possible — down to every last “um” and “er”.

Blythe is at the forefront of this radical method of portraying real events on stage and has just had a hit with London Road, about the community in Ipswich where five prostitutes were murdered in 2006.

That show was a musical and is returning to the National Theatre in London this summer.Blythe’s follow-up, a play about contestants in a talent show in Stoke, opens at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme tomorrow.

She says her method requires a lot of concentration, but actors are used to concentrating on other things — “character, needs, objectives, motivation, whatever”.

“Initially I just have to say: ‘Forget all of that,’” she says.

“And the older, more experienced actors find it more difficult to let things go because that’s what they’ve learned and it works and they’ve built a career on that.”

But cast members are usually won over to her way of working, she says

 

“They start seeing each other doing it and see, when they are faithful to it, how joyous it is to watch and how authentic and spontaneous the acting becomes.”

It is a style Blythe has been refining since 2003’s Come Out Eli, based on interviews with those involved in a siege in Hackney, London, including the hostage.

Since then, she has put the stories of migrant strawberry-pickers, septuagenarian singletons, Georgian refugees and Wimbledon tennis fans on the stage. — BBCOnline.

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