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Photo by Stephanie Godin.

Woyzeck’s Head explores your breaking point

By Brian Carroll on April 19, 2016

Third Wall Theatre opens Woyzeck’s Head on April 22nd. Drew Moore will be playing the lead role. James Richardson directs. Brian Carroll interviewed Richardson and Moore about the show and their backgrounds.

The interview has been edited for length.

Apt613: In 30 seconds or less, what is Woyzeck’s Head about?

Richardson: Woyzeck’s Head is a total experience. It asks you to step inside the head of someone on the precipice of madness. Tormented by his thoughts, Woyzeck leads you to discover your breaking point. Are you a man? Are you an animal?

James, as part of your Masters degree you directed Marat/Sade. That’s a play many people had heard about but never seen. It became a hit and sold out. Woyzeck is another play that some have heard of, but few have seen. What have you learned from doing Marat/Sade that you’re applying to Woyzeck’s Head?

Richardson: In terms of selling a show, it’s about getting people excited in advance, and getting people to talk about it.

Both plays are about madness, delving into the world of madness.

You have to start from a place of honesty. The person isn’t just mad. There is something they are struggling against. You discover what they are struggling against. The person doesn’t want to be in that state. They want to get out of that state.

Once you go there, it becomes something active. Theatrically it becomes something far more interesting for an audience than just, “Oh, look. There are some people going crazy on stage. Oh, look. They’re tormented.” ‘Cause nobody wants to see that.

But what we do empathize with, and what we do delve into with this play, is that struggle to deal with reality. Or deal with our situation.

What makes Woyzeck’s Head of interest to today’s audience?

I think we can all relate to Woyzeck’s story in the inability to face reality or to deal with reality. I think we all struggle in some ways. We all feel tormented at some point. We feel like we’re on the breaking point when we feel that we’re about to do something that is beyond reason. Something that sends us past the breaking point.

We see it so often in the world – people just lose it.

For instance, when I met with our costume designer, Sarah Waghorn, to discuss what we were going to do with the show, I was telling her about it. She said, “Yes absolutely. There was a guy down my street. A completely normal guy, he and his wife. Then one day, he just killed his wife and, the next thing you know, he was running down the street, naked, with a knife, after he killed her. Just out of nowhere!”

Obviously there were so many things going on in his life, and nobody could see it. I think that’s ultimately the story. We all see examples of that so often.

One other example … I’ve talked to Drew’s father about this, because he was in the military. Another great example is PTSD. Woyzeck is a soldier who’s been experimented on and abused by his superiors. There are so many examples of these people who come back and they can’t deal with reality. Yes, they signed up to go to war. But the whole thing of going to war – you just can’t fathom what that experience is like. Bombs going off all around you. Losing friends right in front of you.

We don’t beat you over the head with it in this production, but it’s there.

So Drew, who is Drew Moore?

Moore: I’m from a military family. I moved here when I was eight. I got into acting when I was young. James was actually one of my teachers at OSSD (Ottawa School of Speech and Drama). I then went to Ottawa Theatre School.

I’ve been working around town for the past three or four years now. I’ve done a few shows at GCTC and The Gladstone. For example, I was in Proud and Generous by Michael Healey. I was in This is War by Hannah Moscowitch. I was in School for Wives by Molière at The Gladstone. Next I will be in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at The Gladstone. I was in a few Fringe shows. My Name is Asher Lev for 9th Hour Theatre Company.

Richardson: Drew and Kristina, who’s another actor in the show, they go way back. She was one of his first main teachers at OSSD. We did a show with him and this company from OSSD, teenagers, called Chat Room, where your review of the show (Brian) was, “Keep your eyes on these guys. Be there and say, ‘I saw them when.’”

OK, so we’ve got Drew Moore, Kristina Watt and?

Richardson: Katie Bunting.

Thank you, gentlemen.

Woyzeck’s Head by Third Wall Theatre is playing at Arts Court Theatre as part of TACTICS April  22-30, 2016. Tickets are $20-$25 or PWYC on select performances. Click here for more info or to buy tickets.