The Yellow Wallpaper
'It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw - not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old, foul, bad yellow things.'
In Winter 2020, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, Rose Bruford commissioned us to make a version of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's feminist literary masterpiece The Yellow Wall-Paper with the third-year European Theatre Arts students. Despite the challenging circumstances and restrictions we facilitated their devising process and directed an hour long version of the show, which was performed to limited socially-distanced audiences at The Rose Theatre at Rose Bruford's campus in the first week of December.
Using the short story as an origination point, the creation was process-led - opening and enlivening the students to: the rigour and playfulness needed in a professional space; the honesty with which they must approach their practice; the nature and space of ensemble movement; the release of the need to impress.
The process was heavily influenced by our Lecoq training and pedagogy but also had a specific focus on both Grotowski’s psycho-physical approach, and Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty.
The process was led by our artistic director Briony O'Callaghan and core company member Simon Gleave, whose work alongside David Glass has also influenced our process.
The Yellow Wallpaper resonates specifically now after a long period of confinement, and – as ever – particularly speaks to aspects of societal perspectives on mental illness in women, the binding of women’s bodies and voices, and the pervading although now somewhat transubstantiated belief in ‘hysteria’. More widely it speaks to the confinement and epidemic of isolation and loneliness that young people are facing now.
With big thanks to the hugely talented, dedicated and resilient ensemble; Rose Bruford; Thomas Wilson; Luis Campos; Tracey Woodey; Michael O'Reilly; Henry Maynard and Dale Wylde.