Okay, here we go – it’s opening night! Our People’s Company take the stage tonight to bring you Howard Barker’s Scenes from an Execution. Our penultimate “behind-the-scenes” blog features cast member Dan Pippen, and he is very excited to perform for you this week!
Why did you get involved with this PC production?
It’s a show that offers a bit of everything: drama, intrigue, back-stabbings and betrayal, love affairs, political power plays, personal dilemmas and a host of rich, multi-dimensional characters. It’s full of fantastic dialogue and it is very funny in places too. With so much on offer in the script it looked a fantastic project to get involved with, so I was delighted to get on board.
It’s also very topical, despite originally being set in 16th Century Venice. Notions and concepts of artistic integrity vs state censorship, governmental threats, and freedoms of speech and expression certainly seem very relevant given many of the events happening around the world right now, so the chance to be a part of something that speaks to today’s world was something that really appealed to me.
It’s a compelling and multi-faceted play, and having read it, it comes as no surprise to me that it was also selected for production by the National Theatre.
How have you found the rehearsal process, have there been any surprises or unexpected challenges?
The rehearsal process for this People’s Company production has been top-notch. I have been really impressed with the tone and nature of rehearsals – we are treated like professionals and every single aspect of the process makes us feel as though we are in a professional company.
What are your hopes for production week?
Predominantly for everything that we have been working on to come together, and for audiences to enjoy the show! Over the course of the rehearsal process we’ve been experimenting with many ideas in terms of music, sound, ensemble work and projections (in addition to the scenes themselves), so I really hope that all these elements will knit together and work effectively on-stage.
It’s quite a thought-provoking piece too in terms of its subject matter, so I hope that audiences engage not only with our performances on-stage, but also with the broader questions posed by the show. If it can be thought-provoking and create discussion and debate among those who watch it, it will have been a success in my eyes. I’d be particularly interested to know which characters the audience thought were the play’s winners and losers, and what might happen if the play didn’t end where it does.
What do you hope to come away from the process having gained? What’s next for you?
I hope to come away from the process having gained confidence in my ability to tackle new challenges and to have broadened my acting skills to incorporate new styles and methods. In terms of what’s next, I hope to continue acting, either with the People’s Company again in future, or with other companies should opportunities arise.
Who should come and see the show?
Anyone who enjoys a good play, historical drama or dark comedy, as well as anyone with in an interest in art or politics. With all the intrigue, betrayal, love affairs, backstabbing and power struggles going on, the play is very much an Italian version of Game of Thrones …so if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, come and see us!