Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What is Love?

Hannah Vassallo and Dominic Marsh in Tristan & Yseult.
Love is a powerful emotion. It can send even the most reasonable person into a state of insanity—especially when a love potion is the cause. In Tristan & Yseult, love is the driving force behind this ancient myth and through it Kneehigh unabashedly explores its many states.

Dominic Marsh and Hannah Vassallo, Kneehigh company actors who portray the title characters, took a few moments during rehearsal to answer a few questions with us. They share their thoughts on love, their favorite moments in the play and what they look forward to during their stay in Costa Mesa:

In one sentence, how would you explain the story of Tristan & Yseult?

Dominic Marsh: Tristan & Yseult takes a hard, honest look at the wonder, the beauty and the ugliness all inspired and informed by the state of love—including the lack of love and the loss of love.

Hannah Vassallo: Tristan & Yseult is a story about love with its many colors and shades.

Dominic Marsh and Hannah Vassallo.
What has your experience been with Kneehigh like?

Marsh: I have worked with Kneehigh on three occasions in the last four years. The company has a fantastically freeing and exciting approach to devising theatre. It’s whole-hearted, risk-taking, sexy, anarchic, ridiculous, childish, profound and fun. What's not to like?

Vassallo: I joined Kneehigh in October last year. I was drawn to the company through their amazing and beautiful ways of storytelling and their use of such broad creativity of all kinds that truly ignite senses and inspire audiences. Working with Kneehigh is inspiring, creative, fulfilling and fun! The best is brought out of us and harvested to create their beautiful productions.

Why do you believe love is so compelling in storytelling?

Marsh: It's like a fire. Everyone is drawn to it. No one understands it. It's full of wonder but dangerous. It’s colorful, but very hot. It's always dancing. And you have to fan the flames or it might burn out. See what happened? I was compelled to answer this with a little story!

Vassallo: Love is something that we all experience in life in its broadness and depth. It is a part of life that fuels us and creates journeys and pathways and through it our own personal stories. No two are ever the same. We are fascinated by other accounts of love and enjoy finding connection and empathy within stories that demonstrate this fundamental human emotion.

How do you feel what people are willing to do for love?

Marsh: Love is beautiful and terrifying—and people will do beautiful and terrifying things to get it.

Vassallo: I feel that like this play, love is vast and full of colors and shapes. We are all looking for love, to be fulfilled and to strive for happiness. People will go to great lengths to achieve it and often don’t realize the strength of what they will do to push boundaries to achieve love in their lives.

What’s a favorite part of performing this production of Tristan & Yseult?

Marsh: I like skipping round the audience launching balloons at them before doing a sand dance and then pretending to be an opera diva hitting the money note... What? It's nice having a breather from Tristan's intensely tragic journey!

Vassallo: It’s really difficult to pick a favorite part of the show. I do love joining in with the band and pretending that I’m as cool as them!

Why do audiences have such a strong response to this production?

Marsh: I think there’s a universal experience when people feel the thrill and the heartbreak, the simplicity and the complexity, and the absence of love; it is a profound and fundamental part of every person's life. This production awakens the recognition of what love has done—and can do—all amidst an intoxicating mix of comedy and tragedy.

You’re in Costa Mesa for five weeks—what is on your “must-do/must-see” list?

Marsh: I've discovered the most wonderful thing in my first week here. I believe it's called sunshine. As a Brit, I intend to explore this phenomenon...

Vassallo: While I’m here I want make the most of having escaped the British winter—a trip to the beach is at the top of the list right now!

See Dominic Marsh and Hannah Vassallo on stage in Kneehigh’s Tristan & Yseult. The show is on the Segerstrom Stage through Feb. 22. Grab your tickets now before they’re gone!

Buy tickets and learn more.

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