Then there was the production of ‘Sleeping Chickens’.
It was, in essence, an old time radio
serial, recreated live in front of an audience, causing much mayhem, fun, and
extreme stress for the actors and the sound effects person on stage, who had to
recreate an insane number of effects, with an audience watching.
I decided to be totally literal, and silly in the design of the poster.
I recall having a thought in the back of my head, inspired by the old Ingmar Bergman film ‘Serpents Egg’, set in pre-war Nazi Germany.
A character in the film talks about the
future, as being like an embryo forming inside an egg, and one is unable to see
its exact outline - but it’s contents are there nonetheless, gradually taking
‘Sleeping Chickens’ was set in a future society, torn apart in multiple ways - with increasingly bizarre adverts interspersed in it, to break up the story.
It dealt with the supposed search for ‘just one creative person in a future South Africa’ - and used this device to recreate a rollicking, old style radio adventure series. It was hellish, I think, for the cast - but also an awful lot of fun for them to do.
Audiences responded well. Critics were
divided, but the main thing was that the majority of audiences came and had a
good time, watching the raw structure of their own imaginations being
forced to work.
I remember looking in at the production, at the Grahamstown Arts Festival, and - I forget which angst-filled plays I was personally doing at the time - but it was wonderfully discombobulating to see the crowds and happy families with kids, laughing and having fun.
I recall thinking to myself ‘Okay, it works’. (As well as being faintly envious of the actors, who got to have so much fun on stage). This was another production by the awesome Ben Kruger, who managed to mount and stage a number of my shows, and did them damn well, showing an organizational skill, to bring all the pieces together, which I totally lacked.
There are drawbacks, at times, to writing
'deep' existential works, namely, 'you sometimes end up on stage, having to do
the damn thing, and not laugh at all. Yes it's worthy Theatre - but damn, not
much 'fun' to do, in the broadest sense of the word.
So I came up with the initial finely detailed poster design, and did my usual laborious cutting and pasting and enlarged the design to finally create a 'poster blank' - and passed it to Ben, the director.
I think the poster managed to keep my general overall design intact. The somewhat stodgy ‘directed by’ addition, at right, irked me a little, as it tilted the balance of the design off-center - but, overall, it still worked well.