Post-Show Piece: Accidental Death of an Anarchist
Written by Co-Director Rosie Lewis.
And just like that, our first show of 2019 has been and gone! On the 26th and 27th of March 2019, we brought our updated production of Dario Fo’s ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’ to the Performance Gym at the University of Winchester.
‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’ is deemed a classic of 20th century writing, and is arguably one of the most famous farcical comedies out there. Originally based on the mysterious death of an anarchist in 1969 Italy and the political climate surrounding that time, we chose to shift the action to current day, pre-Brexit Britain. The original text matched the current themes of government corruption, public outcry, and rise of social movements in an uncanny way. Almost 50 years on, and yet the text matched so well to our current climate, it was impossible to not compare the two.
For those of you who have seen a StormCloud production before, this was a slightly different production. This was not an original, nor a show adapted by our directors. There was no original music or use of song to aid the story. This was a straight up comedy, words coming directly from the text. However, this show still had the StormCloud ethos at its core. The text was written to highlight the injustices in the political system at the time, to do social good. At StormCloud, we are dedicated to using the arts for good and for social change. This show got our audience thinking about the world around them, and the injustices that are still rife today. We still managed to use our love of movement in the show, this time in the form of physical and slapstick comedy. The movement helped to emphasise the humour that the play exudes, and also moved the action along as the play got more and more farcical in the second act.
We have been asked on multiple occasions, ‘why did you choose to do Accidental Death of an Anarchist?’ For some people, it may not have made sense for a company who is known for shows with music and movement to do something so far from the norm. For us, it made complete sense. We want to be known as a company who works hard to make the arts accessible, and uses their platform for good, not just a company who uses music and movement.
This show allowed the creative team to develop their current skills around comedy, political theatre, and physical comedy. By doing a show in a genre we had not covered before, with different requirements, it meant we learnt and grew as as company. This show was also an immense passion project for co-director Rory Blincow, as it is his all-time favourite play! When considering choosing this show, we also noticed a gap in the local creative culture. Yes, this show would be a worthwhile project for the company, but it would be so worthwhile for the actors who get a chance to work on this show. Nowhere else was another company offering up-and-coming actors a chance to work on such a historically important play, or allowing them to develop their skills into physical and political comedy. When reading this play, we also noticed the similarities to our political climate and realised something; ‘Accidental Death’ is a play that needs to be performed. It’s message and ability to draw out injustices through comedy is something that the world needs to see more of right now. So, with all of those things in mind, we chose ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’.
Despite numerous downfalls along the way, ‘Accidental Death’ was a joy to perform. Our cast were unbelievably talented and dedicated to the show, and the audience reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Every cloud has a silver lining, and ever downfall along the way taught us something. The show was originally meant to be performed as our Autumn/Winter 2018 show, but a week before the first date, we received news that the venue had not renewed their performance license, causing us to cancel the show. Even though this put us through such sadness and anger as a company and cast, this did mean we had more time to work on the show, refining and perfecting it. Due to the cancellation of the show and subsequent date change, cast changes occurred. This was an incredibly tough time for the creative team, and also for the cast, as they had to acclimatise to new actors. We are so thankful to having a pool of talented collaborators to call on to assist and jump into roles when issues like this arise. Due to the date changes, the show had to be moved from a weekend to mid-week, which we knew would have an impact on audience numbers and money. Despite this, we had wonderfully engaging audiences, and positive feedback.
At the time of writing, it has been two weeks since our first show of ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’, and we are missing working with the cast a lot! It’s quite lucky for us that some of the cast auditioned to be in our Stroud Shakespeare Festival production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’! Let the work begin on the next one...
Make sure to check out the photo gallery below for more photos from our dress run! All photos were taken by Rosie Lewis.