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The Dark Side of Buffoon

Creators:Pavelka, Michael

This play, written and performed by the Brothers Marquez, is a complex narrative mixed the worlds of circus and fable. It required costume transformations and scenic illusions using video technology.

Other Contributors:
DirectorSheader, Timothy
Type of Research:Art/Design Item
Additional Information (Publicly available):

Michael Pavelka


Michael Pavelka is a Reader at Wimbledon. His theatre design work includes two productions with Lindsey Anderson: 'The Fishing Trip' and 'Holiday', (Old Vic); with Edward Hall/Propeller Company: 'Henry V', 'Winter's Tale' (in the UK, Europe, USA and Far East), and 'Rose Rage' (West End, Chicago and New York - Best Costume Design nomination Jeff Awards, Chicago). Library Theatre Manchester designs include 'The Life of Galileo' (Best Design MEN Awards), plus numerous Shakespeare and Brecht productions.

Pavelka co-produced the Young People's Shakespeare Festival (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) and designed for the first African language 'Mother Courage and Her Children' (NT Uganda, Kennedy Center, Washington DC and Grahamstown Festival, South Africa). Recent work includes 'Revelations' and 'Off the Wall' with Liam Steel (Stan Won't Dance) at QEH with UK tour and 'Twelfth Night' (Seattle Rep), 'Taming of the Shrew' at the Old Vic, Royal Shakespeare Society (RSC) and touring internationally. This year, he is working on 'Merchant of Venice' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (touring internationally).
His West End productions include: 'Constant Wife', 'How the Other Half Loves', 'Other People's Money', 'Leonardo', 'Blues in the Night' (also Dublin, New York, Tokyo), 'Macbeth' starring Sean Bean, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', 'A Few Good Men' and 'Absurd Person Singular'. Work for the RSC includes: 'The Odyssey', 'Two Gentlemen of Verona', 'Henry V' and 'Julius Caesar' and for National Theatre, 'Edmond' starring Kenneth Branagh.

Research Statement

My current practice-based research continues to extend over a decade of production work with the ensemble company Propeller of which I am a founder member. Each project now spans a period of eighteen months and has recently involved double bills of plays, produced in England but toured across the UK, continental Europe, North America and the Far East. These radical but accessible productions of Shakespeare's most challenging and layered works are explored in the context of all-male casting.

The scenography supports performance that is characterised by its intensely physical approach, speed and clarity. Cross-gender casting presents opportunities to investigate the language of clothing and movement that are approached in different ways from project to project depending on the metaphorical positions of the characters.

The ensemble company framework presents dynamic solutions to Shakespeare's narratives that are told by a chorus with a specific social identity, unified as a force with costume, music and movement. The chorus are usually being seen to 'devise' the stories in view of the audience and underscore them with live soundscapes created with unusual objects as well as musical instruments - their continuous presence provide the focus for scenographic ideas and images. The company is committed to wider accessibility and the productions attract diverse audiences. Its output has been extended to include the publication of 'pocket' versions of the texts for educational outreach. Recognition of this work is reflected by extended support from the Arts Council of England and the Department of Education.

A second strand of recent work with collaborator Liam Steel involves the exploration of themes through devised visual storytelling with performers who bridge dance, acting and other disciplines such as circus and 'parcours'. The scenography integrates ambitious engineering with multimedia imagery and attempts to give performers the means to use the entire volume of theatrical space, often suspended. The two strands of research connect when productions with Liam Steel have involved the interpretation of classic stories, such as Dickens, with ensemble companies of performers to find inventive contemporary means of telling familiar epic tales. Sleight of hand is at the root of this work and the design solutions are dependent upon close collaborative partnerships with the creative team.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed:RPE
Your affiliations with UAL:Colleges > Wimbledon College of Art
Date:December 2009
Locations / Venues:
LocationFrom DateTo Date
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry December 2009UNSPECIFIED
Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith 2009April 2010
ID Code:2350
Deposited On:16 Sep 2010 12:01
Last Modified:24 Nov 2010 12:52
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