Q&A with “The Popular Mechanicals” Director of Dance Production Iain Court
Shakespeare’s greatest clowns—the popular mechanicals from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”—take center stage in a riotously funny imagining of life behind the scenes during rehearsals for “Pyramus and Thisbe.” Complete with Shakespearean verse, clowning, vaudeville, slapstick, farce and standup comedy, this unhinged feast of wit and profanity is sure to leave you in stitches.
“To take something that inherently links to Shakespeare but is not Shakespeare and has comedy challenges the actors to develop skills that normally relate to Vaudeville,” Director of Dance Production Iain Court said, expressing excitement about putting on the show. “I wanted something that would challenge them, push them and also add a different feel into our season— to throw a play out there that’s not all about angst and terror.”
Before the show opens on February 13th, CU Presents sat down with Court to talk about the inspiration behind the show and his dream collaborators.
What are you working on right now?
Iain Court: I’m doing pre-production research and planning for eight shows: “The Popular Mechanicals” director’s research, lighting design for a dance production taking place in Athens, Greece, this summer, projection designs for @COShakes, design for an immersive performance on the experience of being a refugee, design for an interactive dance performance in ATLAS, and three CU Dance productions.
What is your dream project?
IC: To collaborate on a mixed media expressionistic opera with one of my inspirations (Robert Wilson, Robert Lepage).
What/who is inspiring you right now?
IC: Canadian director/actor/theatre-maker Robert Lepage, Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby, and some of my students who are making waves as producers, directors, actors, writers, teachers and activists.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your show.
IC: Out of a season of Shakespeare with some of Australia’s best actors and directors came a jig—a traditional Elizabethan after piece in improvised doggerel—and the inventive brilliance of these clowns transformed into “The Popular Mechanicals.” It’s the behind-the-scenes look at the Rude Mechanicals from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Without giving too much away, tell us about your favorite moment (so far!) in the performance.
IC: There is a wonderful Busby Berkeley inspired dance piece performed by rubber chickens and it’s… well… you just have to see it to understand.
Tell me three things about yourself that might surprise people.
IC: 1) I have lived in different cultures and loved the experience. I’m from Australia, lived in India as a child, Italy in my 20s, and now America. I love to travel whenever I can. 2) I started directing students in theatre 35 years ago and after many productions in different countries, this is my first at CU. 3) Yes, the fires you’ve seen in the news are as scary first hand as they seem on the news. I’ve watched them racing towards my house, having to decide whether to stay and fight the fire or to evacuate. That time I stayed, and the house was saved. 4) I started onstage at age 6 performing magic tricks to my schoolmates.
Why are the arts important (to you or to humanity as a whole)?
IC: The arts have the power to challenge and transform and build community—I want to be affected by the arts, and I want to create experiences that move people.
“The Popular Mechanicals” runs from Feb. 13-16 in the Loft Theatre. Tickets are $16 and can be purchased at cupresents.org, by phone at 303-492-8008 and in person at the box office (972 Broadway) Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.