Director Rene Migliaccio
It was in Montreal with Louise Boisvert
that French-Italian born Rene Migliaccio started research on an acting style
described as "expressionistic realism." Together they founded the Drama Theatre
Cie, and their first production was "Antigone" by Sophocles, co-directed by
Rene Migliaccio and Louise Boisvert in 1983. By the following year, Rene also
headed an acting school called the Drama Studio where he directed "The Maids"
by Genet, "The Jewish Wife" by Brecht, and "Lorenzaccio" by Alfred de Musset.
In 1985 Rene Migliaccio directed a loose adaptation of Mamet's "Sexual
Perversity in Chicago" that was called "French Kiss." This production was then
invited to premiere in Paris where it opened in 1986 at L'Espace Kiron. The
following year in Paris, at the Marie Stuart Theatre, he directed "Mess," which
was an adaptation of Maxim Gorki's "The Lower Depths."
Rene Migliaccio was then invited to direct a production in
Los Angeles that was part of the city's "Fringe Festival" of 1987. He received
the Best Directing Award from Drama Logue for his direction of "Armaggedon
Outta Here." In 1988, he directed "Deathwatch" by Jean Genet at The Powerhouse
in Santa Monica. This production was nominated for Best Ensemble Performance
and received the Best Lighting Award from the critics of LA Weekly. "Awake and
Sing" by Clifford Odets followed in 1989-90 and was honored by being named in
the LA Times as Best Theatre of 1989.
In October 1994, Migliaccio was invited to mount a
production by the Troupe Lunes de Mai, Paris, France. The production he chose
was "Fear and Misery of the Third Reich" which took place at Jussieu in the
Latin Quarter during Spring 1995. The following year at Jussieu, Rene directed
an adaptation of the classic silent film "Nosferatu." In the fall of 1996, he
brought the production of "Fear and Misery of the Third Reich" to Los Angeles
in a co-production with the Los Angeles Playhouse. The play marked his debut
with the Open Fist Theatre Company, and the production was composed of French
and American actors. In 1997, Rene Migliaccio directed "The Servant of Two
Masters" by Carlo Goldoni at the Los Angeles Playhouse.
In the Spring of 1998, Rene Migliaccio was Visiting
Assistant Professor and Guest Director at the School of Theater, Film and
Television of UCLA. He directed the play "The Cenci" by Antonin Artaud and,
after a series of performances in Los Angeles, the production traveled to
Paris. Rene was at the helm of an International University Festival between the
University of California, Los Angeles and the Universities of Paris VI - Pierre
et Marie Curie and Paris VII - Denis Diderot that took place on the Campus of
Jussieu, in the Latin Quarter of Paris.
In the Summer of 1999, Rene directed
"Medea" by Euripides with the Telluride Rep Theatre. Their next production will
be "Nosferatu," a stage adaptation from Murnau's Nosferatu and Bram Stoker's
Dracula. "Nosferatu" will be performed in New York in the Spring of 2000 and
will travel to Telluride for the Summer of that year.
How do you define this production of "Nosferatu"?
"Nosferatu" is a drama that defines theatre as an attainment
of poetic conscience. There is an absolute research of a physical expression of
the stage that goes beyond the limitations of naturalistic theatre. With
"Nosferatu," we are witnessing individuals, engulfed in a profound spiritual
conflict, between Divine forces and Diaboliques forces. We, as human beings,
are torn apart by these two forces which are at the core of each individual and
therefore each society.
It seems that you are to bringing this kind a very
physical work made of sensuous images.
The physical movement is the manifestation of a poetic
state. As far as sensuality is concerned, it is the sensuality of nature
itself, the sensuality of our own poetic world.
Hearing the music, we feel disturbed and uneasy
Music in this production is the primary conscience of the
world in which the characters evolve. The different musical movements of the
performance carry us from romantic feelings to feelings of danger and death.
The harmony found in classical music is thrown against the dissonance of the
techno- music made of multiform sounds.
You have replaced the character of Jonathan, the husband
of Mina, by the character of a sister, Ellen. Why?
I wanted, by substituting the husband by a sister, to
concentrate the drama on the poetic and philosophical forces of masculinity and
feminity. Feminine principle versus Masculine principle: in this case the two
sisters and Nosferatu. Moreover, by having the two women as protagonists of the
story, the feminine energy holds the philosophical theme of the drama, namely:
a renewal of our own spiritual world. We are taking the audience on that path
through a very physical and emotional experience.
It seems to me that all the characters represent the
different attitudes that one might adopt if confronted with a phenomenon such
Mina, in fact, is the only character to progressively
becoming conscious of the real menace posed by Nosferatu. Caught in this
lucidity, she accepts the sacrifice. The chorus represents the social forces,
the poetic forces, the physical forces, and I think, in particular of the
trance they execute at one point during the performance. This trance is the
symbol of Nosferatu's entrails, blood boiling inside him before the act of
What about the costumes?
The costumes, describe symbolically, the conflict that these
characters live between Darkness and Light.
How do you work with actors?
We work through very specific techniques of
gestures, masks and concentration. We work intensely on the expressions of the
facial mask to render with precision any feeling that the character is
experiencing. The work is very physical. Any psychological analysis is
banished. We work a lot on emotions, and it is very important, at the
beginning, to respond to the work very freely, searching deep inside of them
the line of danger. In every performance, the notion of danger must exist, not
the danger associated with fear, but the one that gives the sensation that you
are pushing the limits of your own inner world. This reaching beyond limits by
the actor is at the core of every artistic research, because that is what will
be left ultimately with the audience. The components of performance, text,
symbols, images, colors, music, will be experienced by the audience on an
individual level, but it is the actor's performance pushing the limits of
reality that creates the collective experience, and gives the performance its
What about expressionism?
Expressionism is the research of the total personal
expression of the world. There is in romanticism as well as expressionism a
It seems to me that expressionism depicts highly charged
Expressionism is above all the expression of the gesture
caught in a particular shadow of light. Like Murnau once said: "It is not the
light that we have to create, but shadows." The images in this production are
oscillating between shadow and light. It is in that shadow that emotions rise
to a level of fantastic dimension.