Guest Blog: 'It Always Felt Like a Paean to the Power of the Ordinary Person': Clive Judd and Mark Weinman on the Return of CAPTAIN AMAZING

The actor and director reunite to mark an incredible 10 years since the show first opened

By: Apr. 04, 2024
Guest Blog: 'It Always Felt Like a Paean to the Power of the Ordinary Person': Clive Judd and Mark Weinman on the Return of CAPTAIN AMAZING
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Alistair McDowall’s critically acclaimed Captain Amazing opens this May at Southwark Playhouse. 

The production will see the original creative team of actor Mark Weinman, and director Clive Judd reunite to mark an incredible 10 years since the show first blew audiences away. Here Mark and Clive talk about reuniting after decade, the joy of the ordinary and shining a light on the "quiet" people.

MW - It’s not often you get a chance to return to a role as an actor. Especially a decade on! This show resonates with me in so many ways. so much of our first outing shaped my early years as an actor. The opportunity to collaborate with Clive again using the same text to find a new rehearsal process to explore fresh questions and creative possibilities is a really thrilling prospect.

CJ - The success of our production of Captain Amazing ten years ago was unexpected and joyful. A memory that sticks very clearly in my mind, was approaching St Stephens church in Edinburgh, and seeing a queue of people snaking out of the box office doors, hopeful they would snare a ticket for the show.

It is a strange thing then, to return to a project that so vividly conjures a specific sense of time and place and reapproach what we made then for what the late director Jonathan Miller would perhaps term a ‘subsequent performance’. Refreshing the production with a new creative team and considering everything that has taken place in the decade since Mark last donned the red cape (it’s almost always a red cape, wherever in the world this play is performed!) allows us to approach it as though it is only vaguely familiar to us.  And as such, reintroduce this timeless story to a brand-new audience, as well as those who still stop Mark on the street to tell him how much they treasure its memory!

Guest Blog: 'It Always Felt Like a Paean to the Power of the Ordinary Person': Clive Judd and Mark Weinman on the Return of CAPTAIN AMAZING
Captain Amazing show artwork
Credit: Madison Coby

MW - I think it’s an important play to those people because it really has storytelling at its heart. It’s a proper ‘story’ told by someone who has found new understanding in the powers and potential of ‘story’. It’s not a play designed to provoke but instead relies on its incredible ability to capture everyday human activity. It feels familiar to its audiences. They can sit back and take stock of their own emotional responses to that which is recognisable and fundamentally human.

CJ - As Mark alludes to above, when we first staged Captain Amazing, what felt entirely fresh about the text was the way the writer (Alistair McDowall) was asking for the play to be presented to the audience. Written almost exclusively in dialogue, McDowall renews the relationship with the solo-performer, asking the audience to receive the play as they might had two, three, four, or more actors been performing it. Yet it is still, quite obviously a play for one actor.

Where some plays might encourage the performer to create a somewhat artificial relationship with the audience through direct address, often marked by expositional passages and narrative revelation, or by awkwardly co-opting them into the fabric of the show, (‘great to see so many of you here today for my birthday...’) Captain Amazing simply asks you as an audience member to observe, to think, to laugh, to cry. All the simple things that make theatre such a brilliant artform when done skilfully and with great attention to detail.

MW – It’s relevance today has certainly shifted like all stories through time. Even when considering the technological shifts in society over the last decade; powers that threaten to overtake our own need for creativity and imagination. With AI looming over us, there’s the possibility that young generations won’t want to engage with their own storytelling instincts. Means of escapism will be found on screens before they are found within our own minds. I think this show can really speak to audiences about the importance of allowing each other to express themselves however they want, in order to protect their own state of mind and mental well-being.

CJ - Mark has already made reference to this himself, but I feel more strongly than ever that light must be shed on the lives of quiet individuals carving out their existences away from the spotlight, in our edgeland towns up and down the country. Shy people. People unable to articulate quite how they feel about things, or why their lives take a certain path. People who nonetheless remain resilient in the face of life’s multitudinous uncertainty.

This play has always felt like a paean to the power and poetry of the ordinary person. The extraordinary ordinary, if you will. An unremarkable man (what is remarkable, anyway, eh...?), accidentally creates a superhero for his young daughter, and in so doing unlocks a world of play, creativity, image, language, and joy. What more does anyone need from a story...?!

Captain Amazing is the Southwark Playhouse, Borough from 1-25 May

Mark Weinman, Photo Credit: Michael Shelford


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