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Director's cut -- RENEE PHILIPPI

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Concrete Temple Theatre places a huge emphasis on not just drama, but also dance, puppetry and the visual arts. Why, and what does this mean for your productions?

Concrete Temple Theatre’s work is “simple” yet highly theatrical. We always try, in our work, to have objects become characters and characters become objects; to create fluidity in the nature of “things”: things and bodies are constantly being transformed.

We explore and experiment to find new ways in which imagery, movement, and music/sound tell the story, as we continue to investigate the relationship between what an audience thinks and feels, looking for ways to affect the audience, through dance, music, text, puppetry and visual arts. The images created within a live theatrical event are in many instances more important than what is said. It is colour, texture, rhythm, light and scale that are burned into our memories. Concrete Temple Theatre continually strives to have the visual life of a play/performance tell the story with or without language.

Much of Melville’s classic takes place on sea. Isn’t it a challenge to transform the grandeur of the ocean and the majesty of the whale on the stage?

I think it is what theatre does best, what theatre is all about: creating illusion, presenting the daily human condition, the tension between what is real and the dream. One should never underestimate the power of the audience’s imagination.

Would a lack of acquaintance with the novel “Moby Dick” affect the viewer’s perception and enjoyment of the play? Or would you say it stands on its own — independent of the text it was based on?

There’s a saying in the theatre, at least in the U.S.: if the audience has to read the programme notes, you’re in trouble. Certainly what you bring to the performance will influence what moves you or intrigues you, but “The Whale” is definitely accessible to all audiences, whether or not they have read “Moby Dick”. I think what is important is not to try and “figure it out” but to just let it wash over you (like the sea). We performed the piece for 400 9-year-old children in Michigan who loved it and who had definitely not read “Moby Dick”.

SHONALI MUTHALALY

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