An Introduction to Propeller by Edward Hall
Posted on 21 June 2012.
Posted in: Main Stage
Propeller is an all-male Shakespeare company, which mixes a rigorous approach to the text with a modern physical aesthetic. We look for as many ways as possible to inform the physical life of the production with the poetry of the text, and we give as much control as possible to the actor in the telling of the story.
The company is as all companies should be: defined by the people in it and not owned by an individual. Indeed, I find it hard to describe Propeller when we are in between shows, as I become aware of our identity only when looking at our work.
We want to rediscover Shakespeare simply by doing the plays as we believe they should be done: with great clarity, speed and full of as much imagination in the staging as possible. We don’t want to make the plays ‘accessible’, as this implies that they need ‘dumbing down’ in order to be understood, which they don’t. We want to continue to take our work nationally and internationally to as many different kinds of audiences as possible, and so to grow as artists and people. We are hungry for more opportunity to explore the richness of Shakespeare’s plays and, if we keep doing this with rigour and invention, then I believe the company, and I hope our audiences too, will continue to grow.
This season, we bring you Henry V and The Winter’s Tale, two plays full of passion and surprises. Thrilling, alarming and deeply human, it is always exciting to awake our nationalistic fervour in Henry V, which has to be one of the greatest classical plays about war in the English language.
The Winter’s Tale strikes a very different note, taking us on an extraordinary journey catalysed by an inexplicable jealousy. They are two works of genius. Big, confident plays that illustrate why William Shakespeare continues to be so popular. Over the last 15 years, Propeller has performed Shakespeare in over 22 countries to thousands of people. He is as popular today as ever and I am happy to report that from Madrid to New Zealand, China and beyond, Shakespeare and Propeller are thriving.
Shakespeare challenges every preconceived notion we consciously and subconsciously have about people, morality and what it is to be human. Each time you find a moral certainty, Shakespeare shows you the opposite truth. Getting close to his art is a deeply civilizing lesson; it encourages you not to be judgmental, to try to look below the surface of events and situations. Our media-driven culture demands that we make instant judgements about everything. Shakespeare reminds us not to get caught up in that vortex. To think a little harder before we judge.
- Edward Hall, Hampstead Theatre and Propeller Artistic Director