Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Find your inner Aztec!! - A Soldier in Every Son at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Luis Mario Moncada’s new play ‘A Soldier in Every Son’ was commissioned for the World Shakespeare Festival and attempts to tell the story of the rise of the Aztecs in central Mexico during the 14th Century in a style inspired by Shakespeare’s history plays. The play follows three tribal communities in their struggle for power in an everyday battle for survival.
The production brings together the RSC company with 6 Mexican actors from the Compañía Nacional de Teatro de México in a cross-cultural collaboration celebrating Shakespeare’s global influence.

Incredibly costumed design by Eloise Kazan

The production is, in my opinion, a resounding success. Granted, the names are a nightmare to get your head round, and the plot can be a little confusing at times, with each actor playing several parts. But the costumes, the tribal tattoos, the choreographed battle scenes in the style of tribal dancing and the incredible talent of the actors at work makes for a compelling and entertaining account of such a colourful period of Mexican history.

‘A Soldier in Every Son’ describes a period of history which is not familiar the majority of modern British audiences and therefore the cast and crew set themselves an enormous task in presenting the play in a way which was entertaining, not just educational. A feat, which I believe they performed exceptionally well; the action will have you on the edge of your seat yet all the little comic references and humorous moments will relieve some of that tension beautifully.

Cast and Crew on ‘finding your inner Aztec’

I was lucky enough to attend a question and answer session with members of the cast and crew, in which they shed a little light on how exactly they managed to pull off this mammoth task.
They explained that the play originally started off being 5 hours long, with many sections being almost a direct translation of some of Shakespeare’s most famous works. Luke Kernaghan, assistant director, spoke of the difficulty that cast and crew, along with writer Luis Mario Moncada, found in finding the play’s own unique voice through the allusions to Stratford’s literary hero. In the end, they resulted to cutting almost all of these direct references, and as star of the show Alex Waldmann quite rightly said, with a play filled with power, ambition and bloodshed, how can Moncada’s work not echo that of Shakespeare?

Alex Waldmann as Ixtlixochitl (I told you the names were a mouthful!)

The actors spoke of the difficulties they found in ‘finding their inner Aztec’, it must be hugely difficult trying to identify with people who lived in a world so far removed from modern British society.  But according to Waldmann, really small things such as never standing fully upright, and using various invented gestures instead of hugging or shaking hands helped as a constant reminder of the alien nature of this civilization.

Susie Trayling as Tecpa
So, without wanting to give too much away, you would be missing out if you didn’t get to see this show whilst it’s here. With colour, exuberance and passion A soldier in Every Son really is a new history of an ancient civilisation for a modern audience.  Catch it before it heads off to Mexico!

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful! My book, THE STONE GUARDIAN, is based on The Mayan civilization! Thanks for sharing this post! :D I wish I saw it. Probably too late now. :( Bummer.