THE CREATIVE TEAM
Devised and Performed by Brian Lipson and Gideon Obarzanek
Directed and Choreographed by Lucy Geurin
Lighting Design by Bosco Shaw
Music by Oren Ambarchi
ABOUT THE SHOW
Everyone has had the shocking experience of hearing their parents’ voices issuing unbidden from their own mouths. In Two Jews walk into a theatre… Brian Lipson and Gideon Obarzanek examine and expand this phenomenon. Although they never cease to be themselves they present their fathers with all the intimacy, understanding and horror that only a son can supply.
It is probably a good thing that Zenek Obarzanek and Laurence Lipson never met in real life, but the fictional meeting of these two irascible old men makes for entertaining and provocative theatre. Their disagreements and affinities are intense and range from the domestic to the global.
This brand new dramatic experiment is a challenging departure for three of the most adventurous and experienced performance makers working in Melbourne today. The result is deceptively simple and subtly affecting. It is also packed with surprise.
2011 - Brian Lipson was awarded an Australia Council Fellowship for which he elected to work with 25 Artists for one week each over a period of two years. One of these collaborations was with Gideon Obarzanek. During their week together Brian and Gideon undertook a long improvisation in which they pretended to be their own fathers. They were pleased with the result and decided to ask Lucy Geurin to help them turn the idea into a full-length theatre piece.
2013 - Brian, Gideon and Lucy did a Culture Lab development at Arts House North Melbourne. The performance they did for an invited audience at the end of that development was well received.
2014 the same team were invited to do a First Draft development by Sydney Theatre Company. This finished up with a successful public performance in Wharf 2 theatre.
July and August 2016 - Arts House supported a second Culture Lab development and also presented a one-week season in the Main Hall at North Melbourne Town Hall. It was at this stage that Wendy Lasica joined the project as Producer. The season sold out and was very well recieved by the public and the press.
February 2017 - Two Jews walk into a theatre... was invited to present a pitch at the international Arts Market ShowBroker.
November 2017 - Two Jews walk into a theatre... had a second successful Melbourne season at the Becket Theatre Malthouse as part the Melbourne Festival.
May 2018 - Two Jews walk into a theatre... has a 5 day season at The Sydney Opera House (Drama Theatre).
Gideon Obarzanek - While Brian and I are often involved in many other aspects of show making and presenting, the bulk of my professional experience has been as a choreographer behind the scenes and for Brian as an actor on stage and screen. So here much of our enquiry has been concerned with what we can do together on stage. I can’t remember lines and after many years of doing so, Brian hates learning them. In this performance the content has been agreed but there is no script. Rather, it is a complex game guided by prompts and played to rules.
When we began the objective seemed obvious – play our fathers. I mean, who knows them better than us? And of course we’ve already had a lifetime of experience imitating them in jest, annoyance and sometimes in shocked surprise when speaking to our partners or fathering our own children. But, and beginning with the three words with which my father starts most sentences, ‘The truth is’, I see my parents through a very narrow, often solipsistic lens. This show is in fact about Brian and me. Personating our fathers is an attempt to step out of ourselves and make sense of our own memories and perceptions. The show looks at how we have been individually and intrinsically shaped by our intergenerational social, economic and political history.
Brian Lipson - This project, like several others, originated from a wonderful Australia Council Fellowship that I received in 2011. During the course of that fellowship I elected to work with 25 different artists with a completely open brief for one week each. One of those artists was Gideon Obarzanek. During my week with Gideon we hit upon the idea of having a conversation as our fathers. We found the experience both liberating and shocking, and that improvisation forms the basis of this show. This is the third time we have tested the exercise: we did a previous development at Arts House and a First Draft development at the Sydney Theatre Company (both under the direction of Lucy Guerin). Each iteration has revealed new layers and subtleties to this seemingly simple format, while revealing complex problems of style and presentation. Over the last five years our understanding of the four men involved (or six if we count our grandfathers) has developed in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. It’s been hard work but it’s been fun. I would recommend this form of therapy to anyone.