The Playgoer: Cheek by Jowl

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cheek by Jowl

poster for Cheek by Jowl's Troilus and Cressida

One of my favorite classical troupes, Cheek By Jowl, gets a nice profile in the Guardian, giving a rare glimpse into the quarter-century collaboration between director Declan Donnellan and designer Nick Omerod--partners offstage as well.

A primer:
Founded in 1981, the company sprang into being during one of British theatre's periodic bouts of obesity - a time when Lloyd Webber showstoppers were all the rage and massive, concept-obsessed productions dominated the subsidised sector. Donnellan and Ormerod, aspiring young director and designer respectively (and partners in real life), wanted to turn things around. Their company would be small, supple, and cheap to run. It would travel incessantly. And it would offer an eclectic repertoire, small-scale, boutique versions of core English plays alongside big European scripts - Sophocles through to Corneille and Racine. Somehow, it all worked: with Ormerod's clean, lean designs and Donnellan's irreverent yet subtle direction, they developed a reputation for teasing the intricacies from classic texts while skewering the pieties that surround them.
Also linked to the article, an audio supplement behind the scenes of their Troilus and Cressida. A must-listen for all Troilus fans. (I know you're out there!)

(More on the production, and more audio, at the Cheek By Jowl site.)

1 comment:

Daniel Bourque said...

I saw the Cheek by Jowl production of Cymbeline about a year ago at BAM and thought it was one of the most interesting things I saw during that time period- it was extremely inventive, though not as well reviewed as some of their previous productions. (And this, I'll note was my first exposure to the company which I'd previously only read about) I've been reading about the Troilus recently and hope that it will make an appearance here stateside.