Press

Tashmadada in the media



Great Article in the San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle
Nirmala Nataraj, Special to The Chronicle

Shakespeare's "King Lear" encompasses the dread and loathing associated with aging as well as the universal trope of exile and alienation. Australian performance artist Deborah Leiser-Moore resurrects the tragic gray eminence to moving effect in her show "Cordelia, Mein Kind": Through a series of interviews between a woman and her father, a recently deceased Holocaust survivor reeling from the loss of his family and his subsequent exile to Australia, Leiser-Moore explores the complex relationship between Lear and his youngest daughter, Cordelia.

"In particular, the silence is an aspect we wanted to explore," says Leiser-Moore, who deals with issues of identity, culture and memory in her work. "Why doesn't Cordelia speak? What is being carried in the silence? What is left unsaid by Lear?"

The play is also intimately connected to Leiser-Moore's father.

"As he was getting older, his obsession with the film 'The Yiddish King Lear' grew, and he loved coming to my place and watching it with me," she says. "It was during this time that I saw how he identified with the Lear character, and how deep this was and how it triggered his memory of his life growing up in Poland, and the loss of his family in the Holocaust. ... And in effect, I am the Cordelia in my family."

The collaboration between Leiser-Moore and "Cordelia" director Meredith Rogers evolved from working together when Leiser-Moore was an artist-in-residence at Victoria University in Melbourne. Rogers was drawn to Leiser-Moore's approach to making theater, which led to a vital process of research, discussion and on-the-floor improvisation.

"The co-writing process came quite easily," says Leiser-Moore. "Meredith has a great way of bringing out the stories and a good eye for selecting and editing the most relevant ones, so the general chatter was magically transformed into usable performance material."

The piece, envisioned as a highly physical and gestural dialogue between film and live performance, is aided by the choreography of Sally Smith. Rogers says that she and Leiser-Moore worked with Smith to expand the movement vocabulary "and find the places in the piece and the particular ways that the movement score could work with the other elements in telling the story. ... Deborah is a strong Suzuki-trained physical performer, and we knew from the outset that we wanted to employ movement for the way it can convey complex feelings and ideas very directly but without simplifying them."

Performance and film coalesce to create an integral experience of the work, which is particularly important because Leiser-Moore wanted to create a piece with her father, who was too frail to perform live but was amenable to being filmed. "We found this allowed us to expand into other images plus, of course, the fact that there was a Yiddish film version of 'King Lear' made it irresistible to pursue in the performance," Rogers says. In effect, this enables the show to consistently include two performers onstage throughout the piece.

While Leiser-Moore has spoken about the universality of the work, there is also a strong sense of how rooted it is in Australian culture, both thematically and aesthetically, which will be particularly exciting for audiences unfamiliar with Australian theater.

"The themes are universal, but many of the particulars, starting with Deborah's accent and the suburban landscape, are Australian," Rogers says.

0 Comment(s)

Post has no comments.

Leave a reply

Captcha Image