We caught up with the company’s co-artistic director, Mitchell Polonsky, to find out more.
Where: Crescent, The Vaults
When: 24-29 Jan
Ticket link: https://vaultfestival.com/events/jason/
It’s lovely to see the Vaults back after three years. What’s the best part of being involved in London’s largest Fringe Festival?
It’s fabulous just to be part of such a large community of theatre-makers creating every kind and genre of performance event imaginable.
We’re an international company of artists based in London, NY, and Berlin and it’s our first year at the Vault Festival, so it’s a thrill to be a part of such a thriving Fringe culture.
It feels like our tendency to be camp and ridiculous isn’t just supported but encouraged here. Which is great, if not a little dangerous!
This show is a stage interpretation of Shirley Clarke’s film ‘Portrait of Jason‘. What drew you to this as a source of inspiration?
Marcus Amaglo, the actor playing Jason and our newest ensemble member, has wanted to make a live piece out of “Portrait of Jason” for some time now.
It’s just an astonishing film. Marcus says: ‘I wanted to be Jason for so long—before I’d ever seen and loved the film—in my childhood, in my adolescence, and especially now.
The very nature of the documentary has always allowed some level of projection onto Jason as the subject. Going in the opposite direction feels like sharing in Jason’s tragedy and capriciousness… LIVE, and in colour.’
Tell me about The Goat Exchange and its work. What’s the best thing about creating such a range of shows?
We’re all about finding the most challenging, most exciting source materials we can find which leads to a huge range of work.
We’ve adapted films, old obscure plays no one’s ever heard of, famous plays that everyone’s heard of but no one really understands, verbatim historical transcripts, found texts — just about anything and everything. If it exists, we’d probably be excited to make a piece of theatre out of it.
We often weave together original work with classic texts and verbatim transcripts in an attempt to recontextualize and present perspectives from obscure and forgotten corners of history.
Our shows incorporate wide-ranging influences from opera, dance, literature, film, vaudeville, slapstick, pop culture, and public art.
We also love playing with scope and scale, from our massive community pageant of Antigone in Harvard stadium with 6,000 people to a miniature film shot with an enthusiastic cast of ladybirds on a kitchen sponge.
The best part about working this way is that we never get stuck in a rut because we’re always finding new things to pull from, new things to surprise ourselves with.
Your show is playing in the Crescent. Was that your first choice space?
Yes!! It’s a bizarre, stunning, super atmospheric space, or as our co-Artistic Director Chloe put it “someone built a theatre in a pipe!”
A lot of our work is site-specific, and even when we’re in a proscenium space like The Crescent we really try to treat the architecture of the space as a character with as much presence and import as anyone on stage.
The Crescent is cavernous and imposing, and it just creates the perfect frame for this particular story — it lets the audience know that something is amiss from the second they walk in.
What should audiences who come to see JASON expect?
Expect to be surprised. “Portrait of Jason” is not your grandma’s documentary, and JASON is not your grandma’s play. Everything is not as it seems.
Audiences should also be aware that this is a recorded delivery piece, meaning that the actor playing Jason (Marcus Amaglo) has an earpiece, and is channeling/recreating the documentary in real time, in perfect sync with the documentary.