Articles for August, 2014


The Authorship of the Self by Phillip Breen

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 by Tricycle

'True West' Citizens Theatre  Photo by Pete Le May

Today we welcome Phillip Breen, the director of True West, to the Tricycle blog. Phil gives us his insight into Sam Shepard’s ‘Great American Play’.


Austin: There’s nothin’ real down here, Lee! Least of all me.
Lee: Well I can’t save you from that.
The authorship of the self is the biggest business on the planet.

Facebook homepages and Twitter profiles communicate to the world who we think we are. Is this an example of people sharing their thought-through integral selves with one another? Or evidence that in a digital age, as our virtual networks supercede our immediate geographical ones, we have never been less sure about who we are; and the extraordinary energy expended on daily acts of digital self-definition desperate attempts to find out?
I’m not sure I organically know who I am. I guess if I did I wouldn’t need pictures of posters of previous shows, books, trinkets, old tickets to football matches and other fragments of memories all over my walls. I wouldn’t carry photographs of my loved ones on my phone, I wouldn’t tell so many God damn stories about myself to people. Surely if we take away all that, the stories and the photos and whatnot; what will be left will be the ‘real’ me. The ‘true’ self. Yes? Perhaps beyond the ‘fictions’ that that shape our ‘reality’, there is nothing. An abyss. An unknowable and untamable self.
At the opening of True West, Austin, bespectacled, sits at a type-writer with piles of paper nearby, steam rising from a freshly poured cup of black coffee and a cigarette burning in an ashtray. It’s night. He looks like a writer. He acts like a writer. So he must be a writer, yes? Lee standing on the other side of the stage looks like a drunken hobo – so he must be a drunken hobo. We learn instantly that they’re brothers. One all self definition, the other elusive, ambiguous, contradictory.
Much is written about True West as The Great American Play. Lee and Austin representing the schism in the psyche of the American male, between urban sophistication, society, money and the wild frontier spirit; nature. That Lee and Austin (L and A, LA) are the dialectic at the heart of American culture, the struggle that gave birth to the Western. While all that may be true, I am not American.

For me this dramatic poem has a lot to say to an age obsessed with the idea of authenticity, but somehow unable to be authentic. ‘What does it mean to male these days?’, I ask myself. I type this listening to Mumford and Sons, after finishing my Maldon sea salt and balsamic vinegar crisps, my dry cured organic Wiltshire Ham and Wensleydale on freshly baked focaccia, washed down with fair-trade Peruvian Coffee. Real Coffee. From the bean.

Photo by Pete Le May  Photo by Pete Le May

Actors Eugene O’Hare (left) as Austin and Alex Ferns (right) as Lee

Sam Shepard’s written a Western. A man turns up out of the blue, a life is saved, there’s a double cross, a showdown and lots and lots of violence. But the bleak, harsh, unknowable wilderness is in the souls of two boys coming to terms with their father’s mysterious abandonment of them. When the boys ‘realities’ are destroyed, when they understand their father is unknowable and unsavable, and they stare the wilderness square in the maw – they desperately attempt to recover something of who they are. They do this by connecting with the land,  their past, to each other – they are hopeless at being each other. They contrive to render their domestic situation literally and figuratively absurd.

Beyond the flimsy fictions that shape our subjective reality, they ask, “who are we?”. It’s important that they want to know. They seem to understand that the greatest tragedy, as Kirkegaard tells us, is “to lose oneself”.

The knotty opposites that play out in True West – craft / inspiration, male female, mind / body, chaos / order, thinking / instinct, reality / fantasy, urban / rural, rich / poor say much about contemporary American life. But it’s in exploring the penumbra between all of them that Shepard offers us a play that is universal with much to say about life in 2014. A reminder that among all the noisy self definition, the quiet, wounded, anxious, delicate human soul can never be wholly known.

True West plays at the Tricycle Theatre from 4 September – 4 October. Click here to watch the trailer, for more information and to book. #TrueWest


Industry Insights from True West Fight Director, Renny Krupinski

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 by Tricycle

Photo by Tim Morozzo

There’s no love lost between brothers Austin and Lee in Sam Shepard’s True West – and some pretty spectacular fight scenes to show for it! Today we welcome True West Fight Director Renny Krupinski to the Tricycle blog to tell us how he ended up choreographing fight scenes for the stage. This is the first post in a new blogging series of Industry Insights – follow the hash tag #industryinsights on twitter.

When I was at drama college I didn’t even know there was such a job as “fight director”. However, I was good at the fencing and consequently my first two jobs involved major fights in Kean and Hamlet and then I didn’t pick up a sword for 10 years. I was always the character that watched the fight or went to get someone because the was a fight going on! Then I was cast as Ross (no fights again) in Macbeth and I asked to look after the fights on tour. I did and from there I gained a confidence, choreographed a couple of fights for the wonderful John Adams and it was suggested I apply to be a fight director. I did, but was told that the rules had just changed and to become an Equity Registered Fight Director, I needed all my fencing medals and a senior grade in a martial art and a few other requirements. I’d been struck by the bug by then and I couldn’t give it up; so for three years I trained in the art of fencing and Iwama style Aikido, achieved my grades, fulfilled all the requirements of The Equity Register and was one of 2 new breed fight directors admitted to an elite.

That was over 25 years ago and having worked for some of the most exciting directors around and with some of the most skilful actors, it is with delight I can claim a close working relationship with Phillip Breen, who is quite extraordinary and who has such a trust in my skills that I am flattered beyond compare. When he asked me to work on True West in Glasgow I was very excited. A big fan of Sam Shepard’s writing, I knew what would be required of me, the cast and the play and I was ready for the challenge. Every play requires invention and True West requires a protracted manic slow build so it was very important to judge it right. The cast have been amazing, precise with every detail, Phillip… incredibly supportive and trusting and my hope is that Tricycle audiences will respond in a way that serves the play and them equally. If it was easy… everyone could do it. I believe True West to be something extraordinary and a treat for everyone who watches.

Photo by Tim Morozzo

True West plays at the Tricycle on 4 September – 4 October. Click here for more info and to book.


The Tricycle Theatre and the UK Jewish Film Festival

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 by Tricycle

15 August 2014

A joint statement from the UKJFF and Tricycle Theatre:

‘Some weeks ago the UKJFF fell out, very publicly, with the Tricycle over a condition imposed by the Tricycle regarding funding. This provoked considerable public upset. Both organisations have come together to end that.

Following lengthy discussions between the Tricycle and UKJFF, the Tricycle has now withdrawn its objection and invited back the UK Jewish Film Festival on the same terms as in previous years with no restrictions on funding from the Embassy of Israel in London.

The UKJFF and the Tricycle have agreed to work together to rebuild their relationship and although the festival is not able to return in 2014, we hope to begin the process of rebuilding trust and confidence with a view to holding events in the future.

We both profoundly hope that those who take differing views on the events of the last few weeks will follow our lead and come together to acknowledge that dialogue, reconciliation and engagement will resolve points of difference and ensure that cultural diversity thrives in all communities.’


What’s your #Passion? Angie and Itai

Friday, August 1st, 2014 by Tricycle

Powering on with our series of life’s loves and passions from the Tricycle Young Company as they prepare to open The Kilburn Passion for a second time next week.

Today Young Company members Angie and Itai tell us what makes them tick! What really floats your boat? Cat videos on youtube? A really good steak? Tweet us your passions using #KilburnPassion

For more information and to book for The Kilburn Passion, click here.