With only a handful of props, two performers deconstruct not only gothic themes of love, madness and revenge, but also themselves.
The piece is created and performed by Angus Barr and Sarah Corbet.
“The ambition is always to do something more and more exciting,” says Angus, “more exciting than anything you have ever done before. The Brontës was not an obvious choice, but it just so happened that Sarah and I were devising something and for some reason we met at the Brontës. You just try to take an idea as far as you can with it. The idea is always to try to make theatre as live as you possibly can, but always approaching it from the point of view of a contemporary clown. Particularly when you are doing something like the Brontës, the temptation, if you are doing comedy, is to do a parody, but really the joke is on us as the performers.
“We wanted to tackle something that was very serious so that the audience wonder whether they are allowed to laugh, but then we take it to the next stage. It is never laughing about the Brontës. It is always trying to get the audience to laugh at us. The point is that we are characters trying to do something that we can’t possibly do.
“The presentation is physical theatre. I declare the premise quite early on. We are trying to distil the essence of the Brontës through physical theatre. We are not attempting to do an adaptation. We are trying to get to the essence of the Brontë myth.
“We all have a sense of the Brontës. We all have ideas that we come to it with, and we are trying to put those ideas on the stage.
“There is minimal dialogue, but we interrupt what we are doing in order to check in with the audience. Mostly it is scripted, but there is very much freedom to go off piste…
“But it is utterly respectful of the Brontës, though some people don’t get that. We have had a few die-hard Brontë fans that feel that the Brontës are being mocked. Someone said on Facebook ‘Can you imagine the Brontë sisters in the front row and what they would have made of it?’ I said that they would have died laughing!”
“We are two clowns trying to get to that idea. Sarah is very much more immersed in that world. She looks a bit like you would imagine Emily Brontë to look. My character hasn’t really done all the right research, but he is still dedicated to doing the best job that he possibly can. And that’s what I mean – that it is actually very respectful to the Brontës.”
Bristol-based Publick Transport is dedicated to making comic visual theatre, drawing on clowning and the absurd to celebrate the live experience.
We Are Brontë is being performed at the Connaught Studio in Worthing on Saturday, March 18. Tickets on 01903 206206
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