Dec 1, 2015 Theatre
Frances Morton profiles lauded British actor, writer and director Tim Crouch.
This article was first published in the December 2015 issue of Metro. Photo: Charlie McKay.
Tim Crouch says he’s happy to be a bit player at parties, “sitting in the corner and talk bullshit quietly”, if that’s what the occasion calls for. However, on the line from his home in London, the lauded British theatre-maker gives the impression he’s much more likely to be the party’s shining centre.
He certainly gets plenty of invitations. The British Council has been angling to get him to New Zealand for five years. “I’m really busy,” he says apologetically. Crouch has acted for the National Theatre, directed at the Royal Shakespeare Company and just had a 10-year revival of his hugely successful experimental play An Oak Tree.
Crouch is in Auckland this month to perform I, Peaseblossom — a freewheeling solo show that’s part of his series of works spotlighting minor Shakespearean characters. “They were originally conceived for young people but they’ve been hijacked by adults,” says Crouch. He takes on the role of innocent fairy Peaseblossom, who has just one line in A Midsummer Night’s Dream but the handy characteristic of being magical, and a useful witness to the overall story.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a fairly terrifying view of love and sex and marriage, so my take on Peaseblossom is that he’s a sort of asexual individual who is frankly horrified by the shenanigans the adults get up to. I was excited about that being a child’s view on adulthood,” says Crouch.
“You have a perspective on [Shakespeare’s play] rather like a young person might have on life. You don’t feel part of the grand narrative. You don’t feel like you’re one of the big players. It’s about giving their story equal importance in the scheme of things.”
Crouch wants his audience to have a sense of their own importance too. Fed up with contemporary theatre’s obsession with realism, which he feels ignores audiences, Crouch strives for a more unpredictable, unreplicable experience in his performances by ad libbing and drawing viewers into the spontaneity of live theatre — although not in a leap-on-stage way.
“My theatre isn’t the kind of theatre you can sit in the dark and fall asleep to,” he says.
I, Peaseblossom, Musgrove Studio, December 8-12, maidment.auckland.ac.nz