Au revoir!

Greetings, Bloggers.

Well, seeing as I opened our blog with a ‘general hello’ in Hello World, I think I perhaps ought to be the person to say Au revoir! Not goodbye, because it is certainly not the end for Woyzeck. We have great plans for this play.

Before we go, I hope it’s clear on this blog that collectively we’ve all worked hard. Not just on our characterisations, but we’ve done some serious digging into the role of dramaturgs. We’ve also learned that promenade is an effective staging point for creating an atmosphere within our piece. If we should choose to continue with this method, we certainly have our work cut out, but we could also present one hell of a chilling play!

The German military in the 1800’s was an interesting place. I suppose that’s putting it mildly for poor old Woyzeck! If we can stage the play in Lincoln Castle it would be great to give that military feel.

I think there is still more to do on the subliminal stuff with the poem If, but I know, depending on our final staging that we can get it right.

Woyzeck will return…

Captain Martyn


Review of the performance

Well, that’s it, Dramaturgy is now over apart from this blog. The performance has been done, and now all that’s left is to reflect upon it and progress into Theatre Company. So here it is, the review of our performance; outlining the parts that were good, bad, and all the other stuff that goes with a review.

To start with, we’ll look at the technical side. To be completely honest, that could have gone a lot better. The lighting in the studio was on cue and very effective, highlighting the right parts of the performance at the right time and also creating the right atmosphere, as one lecturer described afterwards when giving feedback; he stated that when he came in it seemed like he was entering “an asylum”. This creepiness and sense of unease was sustained throughout the performance in accordance with how we wanted the audience to feel. However, as much as the clinical lighting in the studio worked well, other lighting effects didn’t. To be fair on us though, that was completely out of our control. To put everything straight, we had planned for the lighting outside the auditorium to go out (apart from two standing lamps) just before the performance, followed by a continuation of the blue and green colour scheme with green and blue floor lighting on the stairs leading up to the upstairs corridor. These planned lighting effects didn’t happen due to the fact that security switched the lights off. Unfortunately, because the lights went out, the two performers waiting for that very thing to happen assumed that that was the cue to start, and that meant that the rest of the group was still preparing props upstairs, and that noise carried down to the lower floor while the performance was going on. Thankfully, this did not affect the performance that Braden and Martyn gave, and by the time they were half way through the scene, everyone upstairs had finished their preparations and were ready to carry on. While the problems with the lighting were completely out of our control, the sounds weren’t, and the faults with that were entirely of our own making, as we hadn’t practiced enough with the equipment, and so had no idea of the effect produced by a ukulele and an iPod playing music at the same time. The second mistake with the sound was purely technical in that, for some unknown reason, after pressing ‘play’ on the iPod, there was a gap of a few seconds before the music began to play. The third music cue in the studio went well, and contributed effectively to the scene. To solve the technical problems, we just have to practice with the equipment, and make sure that all the security staff are completely cognisant of our plans.

Another aspect of our performance that could have been improved was the scene on the stairs; as it was, we had no idea of the sheer number of people that were going to turn up to watch our performance. Regrettably, because we hadn’t planned for that amount of audience, some of the audience who were situated at the back of the crowd couldn’t see what was happening on the stairs. Although in that way we could have improved the scene by planning better, those that did see the scene said that the way we had staged it was very effective.

Overall, the promenade style of performance was well received, and was seen to suit the piece well. Our style of acting was; “spot on”, we didn’t “overact or underact” but performed the roles well. The choice for splitting the Doctors’ role into two parts was enjoyed, as the text lent itself to be split in such a way.

In terms of expanding it, we’ve had several ideas, and not just for expanding it, but for improving it as well. One of which was the furthering of the fairground theme, with more, as I’ve called them, ‘grotesques’. This would not only create more roles for the women in our piece (one of the contributing reasons that we chose the scenes we did for this performance) but would also give more chance for experimentation within the piece itself.

We might even decide to create our own ending…

All in all, our version of Woyzeck was enjoyed by everyone that watched it, with great anticipation for what we’re going to produce for our performance at the end of the Theatre Company module which leaves me with just one last comment to make.

Well done everyone, and I can’t wait to get started on the expanded version!

Signing off for now,


Theatre Review: Woyzeck – Georg Buchner

Woyzeck Review
by Tim Berendse
Deutsches Theater, Berlin

As Georg Büchner lay on his deathbed on the 19th February 1837 in his Zurich exile at only 23 years old, he left an unfinished, unread play that would one day be called ‘Woyzeck’.
This new adaptation at the Deutsches Theater, Berlin is by Robert Wilson, the famous Texan director, with music by the great Tom Waits taken from his 2002 album ‘Blood Money’.
The set consisted of an arena-like construction with high curved sides so it resembled half of a stadium, a path in the middle led to a flat acting space downstage. The set was used very effectively, with actors running at full speed around this half-stadium construction as if they were racing around a Velodrome. It was also used as a rooftop setting as actors clambered up the sides from behind it. The backstage area was bare and completely open to the audience, so the musicians could be seen behind the set.
The characters were very representational in their costumes and in their actions, for example, the extravagant drum major threw gold coloured confetti everywhere he went and the Field Marshal was very slow and deliberate in everything he did while Woyzeck himself was very nervous and rash in his actions.
Tom Waits’ music was fantastic and really worked in intertwining with the play’s themes of love, death, wealth and insanity. This was accompanied by terrific acting by all of the main characters, however, some of the minor characters were very weak, this may have been due to the fact that their characters were not very clearly defined and had no depth. Some parts of the plot were also not very clear, but this may just be because my understanding of German is not perfect.
The humour was played very well and was a very sharp juxtaposition to the tragedy at the end of the play, where Woyzeck stabs the mother of his child to death because he suspects she is having an affair with the drum major, and as a result of his dwindling mental health. Because this play was never finished, directors through the years have re-written the play to their liking, for example, Robert Wilson chose to leave out Woyzeck’s suicide at the end of the play. This omission coupled with the many songs and dances softened the real brutality of the play. This is the real fault I found in this production, it was tragic, but not tragic enough.
Otherwise it was a fantastic play, and I hope that Tom Waits does more music for theatre in the future.


Website: (Acessed on 28/02/11)

Reviews of other Woyzeck productions

When I’m directing a piece I like to have look around at reviews of various productions. There appears to have been rather a lot of productions of Woyzeck done over the years, these have provided me with a few ideas of what ought to be avoided. The following are notes made from reviews of two very different productions of Woyzeck:

Counting Squares production 2008, directed by Joshua Chase Gold. Review by Jason Fitzgerald 6/10/08

This production set Woyzeck as something like an American War Story buit with the play being somewhat anti-hero this concept really doesn’t suit it.

The characters insanity undermined the whole production.

Woyzecks state of mind is perhaps conveniently passed off as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which he suffers as a result of military action. However Buchner’s script doesn’t give any specific symptoms related to PTSD.

The Doctor character was used more as a comic interlude rather than providing ” Critical signposts on the road to Woyzeck’s self destruction” (Fitzgerald, 2008)

Woyzecks visions of the godless world he lives in a partly due to the ill treatment he receives from the upper classes or the Bourgeoisie as they were known as. This theme of everyday man being abused by supeiors is a theme still relevent today and will still probably be relevent for many years to come.

Cindy Pierre also reviewed the same production but wasn’t quite as brutal. She did provide some interesting points that are useful for our groups production and will give some things to consider even if they are only in terms of what to avoid doing!

The production used a chorus to represent Woyzecks maddness but they only really succeeded in distracting from the real issues.

Humour was inserted into what should have been very serious circumstances making it inappropriate.

Scenes where Woyzeck is performing menial tasks lost their ability to get the audience to understand Woyzeck’s plight.

The theme of the poor having no morals got lost amongst all the song and dance numbers.

The murder scene a damp squid due to bad staging.

review from

Icelandic company Vesturport put a circus act spin on their production which was described by Jason Best as ” hectic, often thrilling, sometimes even dazzling but as a whole curiously unsatisfying” (14/10/05)

In this production Woyzeck is not a soldier but a lowly factory worker who is frquently subjected to abuse and humiliation by his superiors. The Doctor takes a very sinister form and treats him as little more than a lab rat and throughout the course of the play conducts cruel and pointless experiments on him.

The physical feats used in the production though breathtaking were very distracting. In fact the physical aspects shoved Buchner’s original words into the background making the production far more impressive as a visual spectacle than effective as a serious drama.

Jason Best 14/10/05

These reviews have made it clear that there are many things that could potentially make for a production that doesn’t get across the seriousness of what is happening to Woyzeck. It would be very easy to get distracted from the drama aspect by trying to create something spectacular. Yes we want to do something that has the wow factor but we don’t want to over cook it so to speak. But this has provided the group plenty to think about.