Interview: Woyzeck

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

We caught up with Caitlin Burrows and Leo Jarvis mid-rehearsal,to ask about their experience of playing leading roles in this unique, Brechtian production of Woyzeck.

Who do you play and you can tell us a little bit about them and their relationship to each other?

Leo: I play Woyzeck, the main guy who is completely mental. He’s a soldier in the army and is slowly going insane after the experiments the doctors have done on him. He has quite a stormy relationship with his partner.

Caitlin: I play Marie. She is Woyzeck’s partner. They have had a child out of wedlock which tends to isolate her a bit from the rest of the community. She and Woyzeck have a difficult relationship which leads her to find solace in other places.

How has it been rehearsing in the Brechtian style?

Leo: It’s been odd. I usually do quite naturalistic stuff or comedy so Brecht has been a bit of a leap. However, It’s been good fun and it really helps you find your character. Woyzeck is unlike any other character I have played, he is completely mad! And it took some of the Brechtian gestus work to get into that mind set.

Caitlin: I’ve really enjoyed working with Katy within the Brechtian style. It’s been really exciting to be working in such a physical way as I really enjoy physical theatre. It’s been really interesting finding the balance between naturalism and something slightly more stylised.

Is there anything you’ve found interesting or discovered in the process?

Leo: Yes, I think I’ve definitely learnt a lot about getting into character and separating my character from me. Usually when I act I find myself in the character but with Woyzeck I just couldn’t do that at all. Katy really helped me to go through various ways to distance myself and work on that so I could just slip into the different mental states of the character and that has been really helpful.

Caitlin: I have really enjoyed working from the outside in. In a lot of our first rehearsals, we worked mostly on gestus and physical embodiments of our characters and it has been really interesting to then use that to find a more internalised version of our characters as oppose to the other way around as I would tend to usually work.

What has been the greatest acting challenge in Woyzeck?

Leo: It would probably be the madness I have to do. It turns out to be mad you have to be quite energetic, you’ve got to be moving around a lot and I’ll be actually sweating at the end of rehearsing scenes. It tends to be very physical and something I have found very challenging.

Caitlin: For me, I think just playing Marie is quite a complicated journey as a moral agent. I think the greatest challenge for me has been portraying her as a woman who has autonomy over the decisions she makes as well as creating a sense of sympathy for her as a victim as she goes through her ordeals in the play.

Why should people come and see Woyzeck?

Leo: I think it is going to be very different to the other plays you see this term. It’s a really good story and the prose is fantastic! It’s…well I don’t want to say good fun because it’s quite depressing but it will be good!

Caitlin: I think it’s a really interesting take on a play a lot of us know fairly well. Katy and Megan have worked hard to reorder the scenes and to breathe new life into the play. So it’s not going to be your standard page to stage production. We’ve worked really hard on the transitions and the projections. It’s going to be something very different and I think something exciting and fresh in the barn.

Woyzeck is on at The Drama Barn, week 8 (3rd,4th and 5th March) at 7.30pm. Tickets are £3.50 Friday and £4 for members and £5 non-members Saturday and Sunday. Tickets available on the door and online.

#dramabarn #UniversityofYork #Brechtian #theatre #dramasoc #GeorgBuchner

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