Real people talking – the importance of authenticity

“I want to shatter the illusion of theatre, turn it inside out.  I don’t want people to suspend their disbelief.  I actually want them to see a human being being a human being.  The stage for me is a kind of laboratory in which all humanity can be explored.  People ask whether this is a social approach but I don’t think it is.  It’s more spiritual or psychological.  It’s about when you’re not acting, when you’re authentic, when you’re real.  I don’t think people on my stage mimic and, when you go to my plays, you don’t have to suspend your disbelief because what you’re seeing is fucking real.  It’s actually more real than life.” -Jeremy Weller

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Jeremy Weller’s interest in theatre began with his admiration  for the work of the Polish writer / director; Tadeusz Kantor. In 1987, while a student at university studying fine art and philosophy, Jeremy used the excuse of a study tour of Poland to meet his mentor, who made  the unprecedented offer of a year’s scholarship. As Jeremy explains:
“That year changed my direction irrevocably. In Poland, theatre was a fundamental part of the culture rather than an elitist art form. Poland at this time was under communist rule. Censorship was everywhere, because of this theatre was forced to evolve into a new form in order to defy the censors. The theatre then became a source of hope for the public, because it was a last voice of freedom. Here was the last place that the public could see and hear the truth of their reality. In this, for me, theatre found it’s role. It was   impossible to return to painting after this experience. Painting felt too removed from life. I wanted take art away from the specialist and give it back to the people by producing work based on people’s experiences ”. 
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In 1989 he moved to Edinburgh to concentrate on writing and directing theatre.
“I wanted to make a theatre not tied to politics or art. I wanted to celebrate lives. A lot of art has isolated itself and become too rarefied, so that people have lost interest in it. George Orwell, Charles Dickens, Albert Camus, Vittorio Da Sica, and Roberto Rossellini all use their writings and films to comment on society. I believe in the role of the artist a social commentator. My work is the view from below, rather than a socialist theorist view from above. Everybody can understand art when it is based on human emotions and the conditions in which we live.” 
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“I want the audience to be moved and believe totally in what is taking place before them, unlike traditional theatre where they are asked to suspend their disbelief. These are real people up there on the stage, telling us stories from their lives. I want my plays to demonstrate that there is creative potential in everyone, but more importantly, I want to engage those who do not normally have access to the Arts. I am not against professional actors as such, but I only use professionals who are able to share their experiences with non-actors. So called ‘ordinary’ people live such amazing lives. That is what I want to show on my stage. I also want to use the theatre to explode the myths that surround certain groups in society. Terms such as ‘young offenders’, ‘street kids’, deny the individual totally. ”
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“Individuals are what they are because of a multitude of cultural, social and family influences. We need to focus on the individual, rather than the social preconceptions we may have about their circumstances. Our work is multi-cultural and universal. It is the spiritual and emotional base of each person, which separates them from, whilst also connects them to, other people. It is this aspect that the work highlights”