A Tasty Way to dish up the bard

By Ron Cerabona
Canberra Times – April 2013

Shakespeare is served up with a difference in Richard, Professor of Literature. In co-writer and performer Stephane Georis’s one-man show, Hamlet is told using fish fingers, Romeo and Juliet with clothes and Richard III with a pork roast.

“The character is a teacher of literature,” says the Belgian-born actor, comedian and puppeteer, who is making his Canberra debut with the show.

“I like to play with food and objects – I’m a puppeteer. I use everyday objects and give them life.”

And through these items, he retells William Shakespeare’s stories of life, love, death and power from a unique perspective.

Hamlet asks the question ‘To be or not to be’? Why to do we live?,” he says. The other plays answer it in different ways. In Romeo and Juliet, it’s about love; in Richard III, it’s about power (“the wrong answer”).

Richard III is about a king and power and they kill each other. That’s a butchery,” Georis says.

So he uses a kilogram of pork meat to tell the story, slicing the little pieces of meat into the various characters as he goes.

In Romeo and Juliet, he literally uses the clothes on his back (and elsewhere on his person).

“Montague is a jacket, Capulet is a shirt, Romeo and Juliet are gloves,” he says, removing each item for its place in the drama.

“[But] I will not finish naked – it’s a family show.”

This is his first Australian tour, but he did perform in Perth in 2008 and in Melbourne in 2010.

Richard, Professor of Literature was written in 2006 by Georis and the director, Francy Begasse, and was first done in French in Belgium before it was translated and performed in Britain.

Georis, who is “something like 48”, began performing on the streets of Brussels as a juggler and clown at 17. He went to a circus school for a year and performed for 15 years with Belgian circus Compagnie des Chemins. But he says he prefers doing solo shows – creating his own universe – as “it’s not easy to share with someone else”.

Next year, however, he will be collaborating with a French company on a new show, so he doesn’t always go it alone.