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'The Drowned Man' is an original theatre production by British theatre company Punchdrunk,in collaboration with The National Theatre and based upon the play 'Woyzeck'.It is performed at 31 London Street, London, next to Paddington Station, occupying 4 floors of the building that was previously the Royal Mail sorting office.
The play is set in and around a film studio in Los Angeles, called ‘Temple Studios’, and it details a series of events occurring on the 30th of October 1962. Typical of Punchdrunk's style it is an interactive promenade theatre, in which the audience is free to roam around and explore the sets in their own way, and the intricate detailing of the props and locations or following one of the many characters all of which assists the audience in picking up the threads of the narrative.
There are about forty cast members and up six hundred audience members per show. On arrival, members of the audience are given a white mask similar to a Venetian ‘bauta’ which distinguishes them from the performers and told to remain absolutely silent. They essentially become ghosts for the duration of the performance.
Each character performs in twelve scenes and has a one-hour long story, which they repeat three times during the course of the show. The first loop begins with scene four which allows time for the loops to be reset and the Finale. A version of the instrumental ‘It’s Deserted’ by James Newton Howard, from the ‘King Kong’ soundtrack, plays in the background when a character ends their loop. Each tragic story ends with a death and rebirth.
Temple Pictures is the name of the fictional Hollywood film studio which forms the setting and backdrop of the production. It is described within the fiction as being "established in 1942 as the British outpost for major Hollywood studio Republic Pictures".
The various sets and locations within the building represent internal and external locations both within Temple Studios and also the outskirts of the town near which it is situated. The various locations include a desert, a saloon, a trailer park, a chapel, as well as several dressed sound stages and a Lynchian black and white chequerboard dancefloor.
The show is set in Encino, a neighbourhood in the San Fernando Valley that derives its name from the large oak trees that grow there. In 1962, the Valley was thriving and Encino was typical of the smaller sparsely populated towns on the outskirts of LA. Today, it has a population of about 42,000. The Valley had been an innocent frontier, but was now a sophisticated place to live and work. Houses and shops were built on farmland that had once produced beans and alfalfa. The region attracted armies of hopeful young dreamers looking for excitement, celebrity and the California sun, but many of them never found the riches they sought.
‘The Drowned Man’ is set in one of the more desperate parts of town.
List of Characters Edit
Please see the Characters section for more information.
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Locations and ObjectsEdit
Based upon the play 'Woyzeck', the story of which is acted out by two separate casts simultaneously. One version is set inside the once thriving, now defunct film studio and the other is set in a rundown suburb of a desert town, Encino, just outside the studio. Each version has its own storyline and its own Woyzeck, one male (William) and one female (Wendy).
Many of the locales and characters have been taken from the novel, ‘The Day of The Locust’ by Nathanael West. The novel was published in 1939 and is set in Los Angeles during the Great Depression. It chronicles the lives of Hollywood hangers-on and people at the fringes of the movie industry.
Character names taken directly from the novel include Faye Greener, Harry Greener, Miguel, Claude Estee, Alice Estee, Romola Martin, Badlands Jack and Mr Tuttle. In ‘The Drowned Man’, the identity of The Grocer is intentionally confusing, but it transpires that he’s an actor called Eugene, playing the role of ‘Honest Abe’ - a name taken from a dwarf bookkeeper in ‘The Day of the Locust’.
Last word from Stanford Edit
External Links Edit