Brian Lipson and Gideon Obarzanek are about to embark on a wonderful experiment when Two Jews Walk Into A Theatre opens at Arts House later this month.
Both are renowned theatre makers but Obarzanek’s usual role is that of choreographer behind the scenes, while Lipson remains a well respected stage and screen actor. This work features Obarzanek on the stage beside Lipson in a project which prodded both men to think about what could be done together on stage.
“I can’t remember lines and after many years of doing so, Brian hates learning them,” says Obarzanek. “In this performance the content has been agreed but there is no script. Rather, it is a complex game guided by prompts and played to rules.”
The work sees both men playing their fathers. The premise here being that we think we know our parents and we sense their presence inside us. At times we’re even shocked to hear their voices come out of our own mouths.
“When we began the objective seemed obvious – play our fathers, ” says Obarzanek . ” mean, who knows them better then us? And of course we already had a lifetime of experience imitating them in jest, annoyance and sometimes in shocking surprise when with our partners or fathering our own children. But, and beginning with the three words my father begins most his sentences, ‘The truth is’, I see my parents through a very narrow, often solipsistic lens and this show is in fact about Brian and me. Personating our fathers is an attempt to step out of ourselves and make sense of our own memories, perceptions and how we have been individually and intrinsically shaped by our intergenerational social, economic and political history.”
Father’s, Zenek Obarzanek and Laurence Lipson, never met in real life, but the fictional meeting of these two irascible old men makes for entertaining and provocative theatre – their disagreements and affinities are intense.
The work originated from an Australia Council Fellowship that Lipson received in 2011 and this marks the third time the men have travelled through the exercise – all under the direction of choreographer Lucy Guerin.
“Each iteration has revealed new layers and subtleties to this seemingly simple format, while, at the same time, revealing complex problems of style and presentation,” says Lipson. “Over the last five years our understanding of the four men involved (or six if we count the grandfathers) has developed in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. It’s been hard work but it’s been fun. I would recommend this form of therapy to anyone.”
August 23 – 28