The incredible power of the black box

An interview with director Marcus Azzini, jury member of the ITs Parade Parel.

“Watching a good performance gets you into life itself,” director Marcus Azzini, jury member at the ITs Festival, says. Azzini speaks of what he is looking for when he judges the work on the Parade Parel. “It is not so much about illusion and making you forget about life, but a good show will reveal something of yourself. Theatre can tell your own stories back to you.” Attempting to forget himself as a judge and a director he wishes to experience something, and let the logic come later. “What is important to ask is, did something happen to you, are you somehow changed? I am looking for theatrical experience that has that potential to change the viewer.”

As a director, Azzini is very clear of what he believes is important about art. “We have such potential to dream and explain the impossible; the mind is the most powerful part of the body. Art sharpens that. Art is part of your soul. And theatre expands your soul, you cannot live without it.” With such a declaration it is clear why Azzini feels that this event so important and why he is a part of the awards jury. With all of the performances that he is seeing, he describes to me his joy at watching the abundance of talent, and the ideas from this next generation of artists. As he offers his own insight with a trained eye, they also help him to develop his ideas as a director. “I like to see what’s coming up, how this generation works. I am able to see things from a new angle here. There is so much positive energy, it’s wonderful! It is all just starting for them. I enjoy being in that excited atmosphere.”

So as a director, what is it that Azzini is able to identify as good practice from one of the young directors? “Actually I am happy when I can watch and forget that I am a director myself. I want them to stop me watching with an analytical eye, and open me up as an audience member. The audience comes into the theatre, carrying their lives with them – they are having bad day or a good day, they were dumped, or it’s just too hot outside. There’s always something! A good artist will make you forget about all of that. Instead they will open you up and make an impact. Leave you with something to think about later. Those things really happen at this festival.” I wonder if this happens in Azzini’s own work. He tells me that he tries to give the public something they didn’t know they wanted. “That is an incredible power, but it only happens here in the performance, nowhere else.”

It sounds like Marcus’ passionate, big ideas about art can refresh our views on the importance of performance. But what is so important about this power? “Human beings are inventors. We can create wars, we cannot stop them, yet we can sit together in a black box and agree that we are going to believe in the same thing. That is an incredible power. And it is a power that is realized in the theatre, and here at the ITs Festival.”

Jodean Sumner

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