Army of one
Performed in three Indian cities, Going Solo comes to Delhi with Pip Utton as Adolf Hitler and Winston Chuchill in two separate plays
tanding on a stage alone can heighten the terror of any actor. Adrift without companion, a hundred eyes boring down on you, framed in the glare of a spotlight and words waiting to be spoken. Yet some seek that vast space to stretch out every inch of their potential, to challenge themselves beyond the constraints of character. That’s the kind of festival that Teamwork’s bringing to India in Going Solo, three one- person performances inspired from the globally acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Performed in three Indian cities, Going Solo comes to Delhi from October 15th to 17th with Pip Utton performing a show on Adolf Hitler and another on Winston Churchill, and Jailoshini Naidoo presenting At the Edge, morphing into 20 characters.
Solo performances require a supreme hunger and dedication from the performer. Under the direction of Guy Masterson, Pip Utton plays World War II icons Hitler and Churchill in two separate plays. Lauded globally for the two performances, Utton explains, “I came late to the acting world with no training and no CV. I decided to create work for myself and writing solo plays was a good beginning.” Adolf has been performed for ever 15 years in more than 20 countries to glowing reviews and packed houses. Designed to force the audience to question the presence of prejudice in their own hearts
Sand sense the ease with which hatred can be manipulated into action, it is an exploration of our most deep seated reservations on expression. The actor alone on stage is in command of his audience an guides them through their own emotions with the force of his own. Entertaining the audience while making them squirm is a tightrope but Utton affirms that, “If we do not remember, one day we will have to relive.”
Of course, when presenting Adolf’s adversary in Churchill the thrust is different. Born from a wish to do something uplifting and entertaining, it imagines that the statues of the great statesmen in Parliament Square have come alive for just an hour as Big Ben chimes and strikes thirteen. This is not an attempt to judge but spend 70 minutes in the entertaining company of the man whose life spanned two centuries and saw the decline of the British Empire.
What is it that drives an actor to take on this kind of challenge? The third show is performed by South Africa’s Naidoo interpreting a script by Ronnie Govender. Here are short stories all set in Cato Manor, Durban before its destruction by the Group Areas Act. Naidoo plays an academic pondering into the past and takes on 20 faces: comic, poignant, angry, sycophantic, egotistical, devastated. The universality of these emotions is what connects the audience to the performance. “No matter what era we come from, we can identify with the human spirit,” points out Naidoo.
Sanjoy Roy, MD for Teamwork Arts feels that, “Going Solo will capture the essence of the Edinburgh fringe in India” But Utton persists that it is born of, “A wish to make a real 3 dimensional man out of a 2 dimensional character of history.”
Pip Utton as Adolf Hitler in