10 YEARS: MIXED MEDIA ART JOURNAL PAGE BY 16 YEAR OLD JULES CAPULET
digital Art Journal page 12ins x 12ins
For over twenty years, in what now seems like another lifetime, I designed sets and costumes for the theatre. During my last residency, I developed a bit of a reputation for work that was regarded locally as "avant garde", which actually just meant that I approached plays in unexpected and therefore potentially challenging ways (at least, to local theatre-goers). On one memorable occasion, a punter called our box office to enquire whether a forthcoming production of Macbeth would be "done properly". When the bemused ticket salesperson enquired how this might be defined, the response was "with people wearing tights". Our version of Macbeth (which, for reasons of traditional Theatre superstition, shall henceforth be referred to as "the Scottish Play" in order to avoid any chance of an iPhone-black-out as I blog) featured actors covered in gallons of fake blood and wearing very little else; a backcloth that could have been said to resemble the knife-mutilated private parts of a female body; and a fair bit of simulated sex. It wasn't a perfect or particularly subtle re-telling of the story and fans of historical hosiery almost certainly hated it but the young people in the audience totally "got it".
As I write this, actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company are "performing" a version of Romeo and Juliet in which tights will, almost certainly, feature only in a scene during which "Laurence Friar" engages in some form of drug-induced fetishism or "Mercuteio" rips the scanties off his latest party pick-up. The story is unfolding over six weeks, in real-time, via Twitter and we, the audience, are regularly invited to respond to the characters' personal dilemmas and vendettas. Last night, "Jess Nurse" asked us how she might cheer up her younger sister "Jules" who had been bullied at school. My suggestion was that they should put on their PJs, snuggle up on the sofa under a cosy duvet, with lots of chocolate at hand, and watch a good DVD. Jess later tweeted that they had done just that and watched Twilight. Result! I had forgotten what fun making theatre can be! I've declined "Mercuteio's" request to join "Team Montague" and chant abuse at the "Crapulets" because what I really want to do is put his head down the nearest virtual toilet, which is where most of his dialogue appears to have come from. This is, of course, exactly as it should be: the yoof of today eh?
Being inside the characters' heads makes for an exhilharating ride and I hope that every drama student is following this exciting experiment: and that includes YOU, nephew Dan! My creative response has been to make a series of digital Art Journal pages, based on Jules's tweets, as if she herself is doing the journaling. It's an interesting challenge: what is the visual language of this lovely but grieving 16 year old girl? How might the ways that she expresses her feelings develop as she falls in love? My first piece is posted here: Jules had just made her annual video to her mum and posted it on YouTube. My intention is to make a companion page to the one above. incorporating Jules's words, but in the meantime, you can watch it HERE. I'm off to catch up with the latest on Twitter: when do this lot take thier Equity breaks?