Tom Stoppard’s infamous play about plays—revolving around the two titular minor characters from Hamlet and their dawning realization that they won’t be making it to the curtain call—gets translated twice over by the Chelsea-based Apollonaire Theatre Company: once into Spanish, with an alternating, bilingual cast, and secondly, to the outdoors, with dynamic, interactive staging that’ll take it’s audience for a leisurely riverside stroll through incest, murder, and metanarrative.
I started up a round of questions with the director, Danielle Fauteux Jacques, to see if we could figure out just what’s been stinking up Denmark lately.
Let’s kick it off with an easy one: how did the Apollonaire’s bilingual outdoor series get its start?
It was in 2002, and we had moved the theater company to Chelsea the year before that. We were in the process of raising money for buying a place and…we just kind of started it. (Laughs) Sorry, that’s not much of an answer.
Actually, that’s a great answer.
Chelsea is a bilingual community, so doing the plays in both languages was a great way to include everybody. And many people will come both nights and see it in English and Spanish. Also, it’s a really nice park. It’s right on the water, so it’s a really awesome place to do something outdoors in the summer, you know, to get people out enjoying theatre locally. From the get-go, we wanted to experiment with “environmental staging,” using the nature and the elements that already exist to create the various locations. The first time we did a moving audience—with the audience literally moving several times over the course of the play—everybody panicked. Now it’s so trendy, everybody’s doing it.
Where did the decision to stage Rosencrantz and Guilderstern come from? It’s a very interesting choice considering that language is such an important part of the play.
First and foremost, we were looking for plays that we ourselves would like to see and things that, despite being a summer outing, would fit into the classical repertoire. We’ve done tragedy, we’ve done comedy, but the plays we’ve done for the most part have been challenging and assertive. So I think it fits very well with the kind of play we’ve been putting on:
plays that are fun, but at the same time ask the audience to think and involve themselves on multiple levels.
Does putting it on bilingually force you to approach it differently?
It’s basically the same. There are definitely things in the play that are impossible to say and there are times we try to tweak the translation to make it more reflective of the spirit of the original when the translation doesn’t make any sense at all. But really, the differences have less to do with what’s being said than who’s saying it.
Although we use one core play company every night, who’s playing what changes up. And in this case, because three characters carry the weight of the dialogue we cast three different leads in English and Spanish. You have the same translation and the elements are similar, but the different personalities, and how the audience responds with them, creates a very different play.
Ultimately, what would you call this? “Anti-Shakespeare in the Park?” ‘Reverse-Shakespeare in the Park?”
I would call it “Stoppard in the Park.” It’s a play, it’s in the park. Every play is its own thing. We don’t have anything against Shakespeare in the Park,
it’s just that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There’s a lot more out there.
ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDERSTERN ARE DEAD
WEDNESDAY 7.11-SUNDAY 7.28
MARY O’MALLEY PARK
COMMANDANT’S WAY ON THE CHELSEA WATERFRONT
ENGLISH WED, THU, SAT
SPANISH FRI, SUN