Noah Brody, one of the co-artistic directors of Fiasco Theater, and a co-director and actor in Long Wharf Theatre’s presentation of Fiasco’s Measure for Measure, by William Shakespeare, running from November 25 through December 20, sat down for a wide ranging conversation.
LWT: How would you describe Fiasco Theater’s style
Noah Brody: We are an actor driven, ensemble theatre company and we like to give ourselves full rich experiences. We want to do all the things we like to do, challenging ourselves..
We have a strong classical theatre background and we are all highly textual people. We love to geek out about that stuff, but we also have a background in physical theatre and commedia and clown and music. I’m a fight choreographer. So we try to make productions in which we get to do lots and lots of things.
Anything that’s onstage we try to create with our bodies and a few props. That’s the philosophy behind it
We ask ourselves, what do we need to tell the story and what do we only need. So, we give ourselves anything that we need to tell the story and only those things. We are interested in the resonance and the intellectual conversation that can ensue from double and tripling the casting, but also finding multiple uses for props because it engages the imagination.
The other thing we really try to do – in our personal process we say, let each thing be what it is. In Shakespeare’s plays quite often, and especially in this play, moments that are sitting right next to each other can be completely different tonally and texturally. Something that is hilariously funny can live right next to something shocking. We try to let that needle swing back and forth however that is being dictated by the text. It feels like it swings all over the place, and that is actually what Shakespeare wrote, and its actually more like life, more so than something that would be tonally consistent over the course of a two hour show. If there’s inconsistency, it is something that has been dictated by Shakespeare.
In this particular production there are a lot of interesting things that happen when actors double. We think of the play as having different kinds of spheres – the sphere of the spiritual, of the temporal, and of the appetite, the sexual. The head, the heart, and the guts.
Because the message of the play is about the conflict of those things, and reconciling the debate internal to oneself, as well as on a macro scale, in society, that to see the same actress play Isabella, the novice nun, and Mistress Overdone, the madam of a brothel, is an interesting thing to see that it resides within the same person. So everyone in the cast plays someone who is high and low. We are not just going to double. We do it in a way we believe is engendered by the text itself.
What we really like to do is give the audience enough so that they understand how to contextualize everything, but also that we give them the broad stroke and they have to fill things in with their imaginations. That’s the way we like to see theatre. We’re trying to create theatre in a way that I think that engages an audience and gets them sitting forward, rather than sending a message saying “sit back, we’ve taken care of everything now all you have to do is sit there and watch.”