This Week in Theater
Q & A Cameron Watson
by Rose Desena
On the verge of opening the highly anticipated production, Cock, Director Cameron Watson seems calm, confident, and so ready. This Los Angeles Premiere by Mike Bartlett is scheduled to play at Rogue Machine from September 13th through November 3rd, the director doesn’t seem the least surprised that tickets are selling so well. Who says “theatre’s dead?”
A multi award winner and heralded as “one of our finest contemporary directors,” most recently Watson’s highly praised production of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls, at Antaeus, garnered Critic’s Choice status, with writer Charles McNulty declaring it “the best staging of the play that I have encountered.”
Cock’s playwright is emerging as a strong voice in theatre and television. He was nominated last year for the BAFTA award as best “Breakthrough Talent” in the TV Craft category in relation to “The Town.” He won BEST NEW PLAY at the National Theatre Awards for Bull, in a category with works from Alan Ayckbourn and Tom Wells. His play Love, Love, Love made its London premiere at the Royal Court Theatre, and Cock premiered at the Royal Court, winning the 2010 Laurence Olivier Award. Now, a chance for us to see it in LA!
Cited for its toe-curling frankness and comedic twists, that have nothing to do with battling poultry, Cock stars an award winning ensemble which includes Matthew Elkins, Gregory Itzin, Rebecca Mozo, and Patrick Stafford. It highlights the worst of men’s (and women’s) behaviors when relationships get complicated, exploding into a “lustfulicious” triangle. The character “John” desperately needs some straightening out. 90 minutes, no intermission, no retreat, and no surrender. I can’t wait, and I wanted to get a little more information from the director’s perspective, so Cameron Watson took the time to enlighten me a little more about this play.
Rose: What do you think it is that makes this play good entertainment?
Cameron: I think COCK is a very unique, original and fresh piece of writing for the theatre. The playwright has stripped away all devices and elements that we normally have to lean on to tell the story. The play is told with four actors and an empty arena circle where they interact. It is a thrilling and provocative ride. And it has a huge pounding heart at its core. It is ultimately about love.
Rose: Do you have a standard approach or process when beginning work on directing a play?
Cameron: I like to start with an easy and honest sense of clarity about what the story is. What are we bringing to life? Who are these people and what do they feel about what happens to them through the course of the play? My first and most important responsibility is to breathe human life into what is written on the page.
Rose: What is your favorite part of the process?
Cameron: I love the casting process a great deal. It is the most important element, I think. Casting the right people in the right roles will do a lot of the work for me right off the bat. I also love the stretch from dress rehearsals into previews and opening. Something magical happens at that point. The play takes flight. It soars.
Rose: How about your strengths and weaknesses as a director?
Cameron: I am an actor as well, and I have gotten known as an “actor’s director” and I take pride in that. I know how actors work and think and what they need because I am one. That gives me a “way in” and allows a shorthand with the actors. I try not to focus on weakness in any way. I am a big collaborator and I Iove getting ideas and inspiration from my creative team. If I need help in an area that I am unsure of, I surround myself with brilliantly talented designers and artists and I am able to lean on for their talents.
Rose: What do suppose audiences will connect most to when seeing this production?
Cameron: The heart. There are four giant, aching, pounding hearts in the arena and I think everyone will be able to plug themselves and their own lives into one or all of them. It is a very funny and deeply moving story.
COCK opens at 5pm Saturday, September 13th and runs, 5pm Saturdays, 7pm Sundays, and 8pm Mondays through November 3, 2014 (no performances on 10/20 or 11/2). Tickets: $30. ROGUE MACHINE is located at 5041 W. Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90019. Reservations can be made at www.roguemachinetheatre.com or more information at 855-585-5185. Twitter: #CockThePlay