Text by 撰文：Ava Davies
Translated by 翻譯：Li Ruixue 李瑞雪
The company that perhaps created and are now synonymous with the concept of contemporary visual theatre are almost certainly Complicite, set up in 1983 by Simon McBurney, Annabel Arden and Marcello Magni. Complicite are probably the most influential experimental theatre establishment in the UK, setting the standard for the younger visual and devised theatre companies that have sprung up in its wake, such as DV8, Kneehigh and Frantic Assembly. Combining intense physical theatre and movement with magical usage of light, sound and projection, they tackle texts which grapple with philosophical and existential questions whilst somehow retaining a light touch to their work.
The founders initially met whilst studying at Cambridge and performing in the Cambridge Footlights, the UK’s foremost student comedy troupe which has spawned Monty Python, amongst others. After leaving Cambridge, however, McBurney, Arden and Magni studied in Paris under Jacques Lecoq, learning the principles of intensely physical theatre which have now come to define Complicite’s production style.
Complicite幾乎可以被是作為創建了當代視覺劇場這一概念，並成為其代名詞的這樣一個戲劇公司。由Simon McBurney, Annabel Arden和Marcello Magni共同創立於1983年，Complicite為英國許多年輕的注重實驗劇場的公司樹立了榜樣，像是DV8, Kneehigh或是Frantic Assembly等，當之無愧是英國目前最具影響力的實驗話劇公司。他們的作品中於用強烈的肢體語言結合燈光，音響，以及投影的運用，敘述他們在應對哲學以及存在主義方面的建樹。
劇團創立者們相識於劍橋大學求卻期間，並曾經共同參與Cambridge Footlights的演出。Cambridge Footlights是在英國最重要的學生喜劇劇團之一，催生了《Monty Python》這一經典作品。在三人結束求學生涯後，決定前往巴黎繼續深造，並師從Jacques Lecoq潛心研究身體劇場，為之後成立的Complicite的製作風格打下了堅實的基礎。
Complicite show the theatrical world what the power of an audience’s imagination can do to a performance. In this sense, they act almost as the audience’s teacher, guiding them with slick but not soulless movement and audacious technological cues, but also allowing us to stretch our imaginations. A production that best exemplifies this must be Simon McBurney’s glorious production of Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’, (which, although not Complicite, retained many of their directorial tics), where, in place of elaborate and delicate puppets, actors and technicians dressed in black use pieces of the orchestra’s sheet music to flutter and skitter around stage, symbolising the birds which follow Papageno and Tamino. Complicite’s work is not easy: they push their audience intellectually, either through the themes which they explore and visually, through their disruptive and initially jarring tableaus. The works they choose to put on are deliberately demanding, yet also contain a certain beauty to them; either in the stark nihilism of Beckett’s ‘Endgame’ in 2009 or the kaleidoscopic whirlwind of images in 2012’s ‘The Master and Margarita’, which tackled Bulgakov’s classic Soviet novel.
Complexity is relished by Complicite: ‘The Master and Margarita’ for one juggles three different storylines, each with their own particular tone, ranging from surrealism and satire to swooping romanticism. A story about, on the surface, Soviet censorship, McBurney chose to focus on the idea of storytelling, pulling a sprawling storyline back to its core and focusing on the intricacies of narration and unreliability. Interestingly, McBurney has commented in the past that he sees Complicite as being more of an ‘arts organisation’ than a theatre company. His point is clear: the company utilise technology, a wide range of mediums such as dance and music as well as acting, and have a deliberate focus on the visual impact of their work. But to describe Complicite as being anything other than purely theatrical would be inaccurate: the variety of different mediums they use are all for the purpose of telling a story well, igniting an audience’s imagination and broadcasting their ideas and themes to their trusting spectators.
The trust an audience must place in Complicite is testament to the company’s ability to consistently deliver visually arresting and intellectually stimulating shows. Just when you thought you could pin them down as a company specifically geared towards adult audiences in their adaptations of works often thought unstageable, their newest production is their first foray into children’s theatre through the adaptation of Zizou Corder’s best-selling young adult book ‘Lionboy’. Though at first this could seem to be a fairly radical departure from their usual fare, Annabel Arden’s production delivers. The lions of the title are created not through ‘The Lion King’ style elaborate costume and headdresses, but through a mixture of body movement and the audience’s imagination. A key part of Complicite’s manifesto is pushing their audience to think and create for themselves, and this is something that is not sacrificed despite the reduced average age of their audience.
Despite at the hefty age of thirty-one essentially becoming the grandparents of visual theatre companies all around the UK, Complicite have retained a sense of fun, ambition and innovation. Any production company can be wildly radical and innovative; but it is Complicite’s sense of heart which has made them endure over the decades.
觀眾對於Complicite的信任，充分證明了公司極具能力創作視覺衝擊力強並且知識涵蓋面廣的作品。如果你只是把他們看作是一家長期改編製作難以通過舞台方式實現的作品，且只是針對成年觀眾戲劇公司，那你就大錯特錯了。他們最新的劇作將首次涉及兒童劇題材，由Zizou Corder的暢銷作品《Lionboy》改編而成。雖然與他們一貫的風格比起來，Annabel Arden這一舉動顯得有些荒唐，但這並不代表著最重呈現給觀眾的《Lionboy》會向熱門音樂劇《獅子王》那樣在道具以及裝束上大下功夫。相反，作品將採用他們的一貫風格，繼續通過豐富肢體語調動觀眾的想像力。Complicite的一大信條是通過作品使觀眾自行的去思考並創造，且這一信條並不會隨著觀眾平均年齡層的降低而削弱。