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Sunday 11 October 2015

Patrick Graham's Chekhov Gone Wilde!

Posted in: Performance
By staff - 20th May 2015

Patrick Graham is back with another theatre mash-up, this time mixing the work of Anton Chekhov and Oscar Wilde. Chekhov Gone Wilde opens at the Garnet Station Tiny Theatre in Auckland tonight!


A Q&A with Patrick Graham:

1. So, how did you come up with the idea of mashing up Chekhov and Wilde for a show?
The idea came from a sick and twisted thought of “wouldn't it be interesting to put these two great writer side by side and see how much of their style/content is similar?” I always liked to think that Chekhov wrote the Russian equivalent of the comedy of manners (his plays are far too funny to completely be dramas, his characters are too solipsistic.)

2. The audience can expect to see scenes from The Cherry Orchard, The Bear, Three Sisters, The Seagull, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest. Why did you choose these particular plays?
They are the better known plays of each writer. I thought I would keep it simple for the audience to follow as they might know these plays. Several scenes from each play are presented. The Chekhov scenes are shorter than the Wilde as he tended to write smaller more intense two-hander scenes in his plays.

3. Will your versions of Chekhov and Wilde be straight translations or modern updates?
There are going to be a mixture of styles. Some scenes will have the language pared back as much as possible so that it becomes more Pinter than Chekhov or Wilde. We will be looking at different ways to portray scenes, so some scenes may become more absurdist and representational. We will be using puppets to extend our cast. Melodrama techniques will be used instead of the usual Stanislavsky method for the Chekhov.

4. Most theatre-goers know that Chekhov collaborated closely with Stanislavsky. What’s your approach to the style of acting here?
We threw away most of what Stanislavsky invented for portraying Chekhov. Yes we've used some basic techniques to help actors into scenes, but Chekhov himself wasn't too happy with what Stanislavsky did to interpret his plays, so we've tried all sorts of things to explore them. We've heightened the characters and used melodrama and soap opera acting styles for some of the scenes

5. Why do you think we still perform Chekhov and Wilde today?
They still have something to say, especially about middle class morals and hypocrisy, perhaps also love. They are both also damn funny writers and tell simple human truths in their plays, Chekhov more so than Wilde.

6. As well as being a director, you're also an actor and playwright. Is there a particular role you're most comfortable with?
I think it really depends on the project. I can be incredibly shy so working on stage can be really draining. Playing Bottom at the beginning of the year in Michael Hurst's version of Midsummer Night's Dream was amazing. It was really lovely to have such a supportive audience and it helped me get the most out of the part. Michael is a damn fine director too. Before that I’d been playing what I called "psychopaths and murders" and that burnt me out. I do love being a director because I get to play with actors and find an organic way to get the best out of a play. I haven't written for a while. I keep having ideas about what I’d like to write about. I think mainly my plays don't have much commercial scope. I really want to write about the

Armin Meiwes story. He is a German Cannibal that advertised in a chat room for a person willing to be eaten. I'd like to make it a gay love story. I suppose at the moment I'm happiest directing.

7. Do you have a personal favourite scene from the show?
I think it's probably The Bear. I've always loved both the characters reversals in that play.

8. What will you be working on next?
I'm hoping to be working on an adaptation of Strindberg's The Stronger and re-staging my play Lost Girls. I would also love to direct the Summer Shakespeare and do another mash-up called Strindberg Vs Ibsen.

Chekov Gone Wilde is at Garnet Station Tiny Theatre – where before the show you can great tapas, crispy wood fired pizzas, dessert, organic wine and craft beer.

May 20-30, Wednesday-Saturday, 8pm start
Tickets $25/20
To book phone 09 360 3397

Garnet Station Cafe & Tiny Theatre, 85 Garnet Rd, Westmere, staff - 20th May 2015

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