There is something uniquely and imperceptibly charged about the first readthrough of a play, particularly when the writer is in the room, and in the case of Gaia Mondadori’s three-hander Chaos, the atmosphere is especially electric. Watching actors Mondadori, Paul Storrs, and Hayley Canham feel their way through a script complete with performance art, live music, and projected film, something in the room shifts, with dialogue, tone, and chemistry falling into a perfect – almost incantatory – rhythm. These are masters of their craft, and to witness the show in its skeletal stages is nothing but a delight; I walk home grinning irrepressibly.
“The incorporation of dance has rendered the play’s interest in rapture and pain kinetic”
Chaos, Mondadori’s first play, follows protagonist Kia as she strives to nurture her creativity at an artist’s retreat, her process stunted and informed by flashes of family trauma that are weaved deftly throughout the script. It is a story interested ultimately in the importance of images, haunted by mythology, colour, and the drama of the visual. Gaia explains how she wanted to “explore the theatrical form by incorporating and playing with moments of creation on-stage, therefore asking the audience what art is”. These moments are now being developed in conjunction with composer Noah Jay, movement director Stella Rousham, and videographer Chloe Kelly, who have also collaborated on the show’s trailer.
Jay’s compositions soundtrack Kia’s trauma throughout the play: he seeks to “create an atmosphere of something hanging over the character even as the audience is not sure of what it is or where it is going to come from”, with music here as a sort of pre-emption and echo of on-stage action. For Rousham, the incorporation of dance to render the play’s interest in rapture and pain kinetic has been heavily influenced by Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keermaeker. She tells me, “I have found her use of geometrical spatial forms, repetition and precision to be helpful for conveying the imagery of the script” and is thrilled by the dynamic opportunities permitted through working with Mondadori’s original material. As a creative, Kelly has found the rehearsal process “a cathartic filmmaking experience thus far”, for she is “drawn to stories that transcend the common human experience. This is the perfect project for me to tune into my authentic style with a team of creatives that see and experience the world similarly to me”.
“Chaos’s intrigue lies in its focus on the pressures and power of audience reception”
Responsible for bringing all these creatives together is director Maddie Lynes, who is ultimately interested in the potential expansion of Mondadori’s conceits in performance, explaining “it’s been really exciting to draw out potential subtext from all the incredible images the script provides”. So much of Chaos’s intrigue lies in its focus on the pressures and power of audience reception, and first-time assistant director Sarah Walton-Smith is already “excited to sit with the audience and watch their reactions to the final play and the different ways it affects them, having had my own personal interpretations and connections to its themes throughout the creative process”.
Cast member Paul Storrs is multi-roling as Kia’s Father and her mentor Herm and applauds Mondadori for “creating two totally distinct, clear and three-dimensional characters in Herm and Father.” Noting that the script provides a “wealth of information” of how not only to play these characters as distinct people, but as mirrors of each other, and so “figuring out how to physically distinguish the characters whilst maintaining realistic portrayals will be plenty of fun”.
A lyrical and other-worldly spin on the relationship between the art and the artist, between influence and inhibition, Chaos promises to be a theatrical spectacle, blending forms and genres through the work of a collaborative and spirited team. More than anything else, director Lynes hopes that the performances will show “the new, exciting, and experimental ways you can play with the form of a play”.
Chaos (written by Gaia Mondadori and directed by Maddie Lynes) debuts at the Fitzwilliam Auditorium from the 4-6th February, at 6pm. Tickets can be purchased here.
Varsity is the independent newspaper for the University of Cambridge, established in its current form in 1947. In order to maintain our editorial independence, our print newspaper and news website receives no funding from the University of Cambridge or its constituent Colleges.
We are therefore almost entirely reliant on advertising for funding and we expect to have a tough few months and years ahead.
In spite of this situation, we are going to look at inventive ways to look at serving our readership with digital content and of course in print too!
Therefore we are asking our readers, if they wish, to make a donation from as little as £1, to help with our running costs. Many thanks, we hope you can help!