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After the triumph that was The Flying Dutchman, a production that melded classic form with cutting edge technology. Victorian Opera is once again set to grace the stage at the legendary Palais Theatre. This time it’s with an adaptation of Pagliacci, a performance that premiered 1892. In partnership with Circus Oz, this classic work has been re-imagined as Laughter and Tears, set in a small Italian village either side of WWII. Laughter, follows thwarted lovers, buffoons and foolish villains as they prepare for a performance in an incredible Italian theatre as the war encroaches. In Tears, the war has just ended and performers are returning to the theatre. At the helm of this performance is Olivier Award-Winning director Emil Wok, who spoke with TAGG about the upcoming production.

Emil, let’s talk firstly about your career, and what has led you to a life in theatre?

I was the son of a principal baritone at Covent Garden and grew up in the ambience of the
performing arts.  I was bitterly disappointed when I found out that I didn’t have the material, as my voice teacher said to become a classical singer so I went and studied mime in Paris  with Etienne Decroux and bathed in silence for two years .  This led to training in basic tumbling and a few of the Circus Arts at the Gymnase du Cirque, where I grew to love the circus.

Talk to us about the melding of circus and of opera, how do these two forms compliment or perhaps contrast each other, what do they individually bring to the table?

One is the art of voice and the other of movement, both are gifts of the remarkable achievements of the human body and therefore they are totally in allegiance.  The approaches are different because the training is different but both can, in the hands of gifted and passionate artists find a voice that’s quite unique.  So you are delighted by both the sound and the sight of two of the most wonderful of performing arts.

How have you re-imagined Pagliacci, a work originally penned in 1892, for a contemporary audience?

I’ve set the first part as a performance of a commedia in a provincial theatre in Italy forty five minutes before Italy declares war on Britain and France.  The second part which is Pagliacci opens in the same theatre after five years of disuse with a commedia that is a political satire about the fascists.  Difficult brief you might think and you’d be right.

Visually, what can audiences expect from the production?

Glorious set and costumes, physical comedy, beautiful aerial work: a show for young and old alike.

What are some of the other theatrical devices used?

Subtitles that have a mind of their own and so you can understand the Italian.

And are there any themes in this work that are perhaps relatable to the here and now?

War: it’s increasing risk as the extremes of politics create the terror that walks with it.

Laughter and Tears plays The Palais Theatre on the 13th 16th and 18th August 2016 to book tickets or to find more info click here