The director, who has brought Bret Easton Elliss novel to Broadway, explains why hes drawn to the dark stories of Patrick Bateman, Faustus and Macbeth
I am drawn to theatre as an art form of surprise and of provocation, says the Almeidas artistic director Rupert Goold, while backstage at rehearsals for American Psycho, the stage adaptation of Bret Easton Elliss novel about late 80s excess and violence in New York. Every show weve done at the Almeida is trying to challenge aesthetic and sometimes social assumptions.
Goolds been challenging assumptions his entire career. Hes set King Lear in Liverpool and Merchant of Venice in Las Vegas, while the first of his two ventures on to Broadway this season, King Charles III, stripped away the nobility of royalty with its minimalistic set.
Youd forgive Goold for succumbing to delusions of grandeur himself after his rapid rise. He became artistic director of Headlong Theatre at 33 and four years later he was also serving as associate director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, until he took over the Almeida Theatre two years ago. He won two Olivier awards for best director before he turned 40.
Goold, who is now 44, initially staged both King Charles III (for which he earned another Olivier nomination) and American Psycho at the Almeida. On the surface they are starkly different, yet Goold sees what unites them: they each speak to their countrys sensibility.
In America, the relationship between the individual and the state has an uneasiness about it and in Europe we tend to accept institutions a bit more, he says.
More significantly, while King Charles III required something spare and Shakespearean, as close to nothing but the performances and text and American Pscyho is incredibly visual and flamboyant, what drew him to both plays is the risks they take. Both play with form and style in unique ways while telling a compelling story that makes an argument to support the writers vision.
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