A DIFFERENT SEASON
2022/2023 — Season 67
Adapted for the Stage by Lee Hall. Based on the Paddy Chayefsky film.

Network

Directed by: Matjaž Pograjc
Translation: Arko
Première: 20. 4. 2022
Cast
  • Howard Beale, anchorman
  • Harry Hunter, associate producer
  • Max Schumacher, Head of News
  • Frank Hackett, executive
  • Janja Majzelj/Romana Šalehar
    Louise, Schumacher's wife
  • Ed Ruddy, chairman
  • Diana Christensen, Director of Programming
  • Klara Kastelec
    Production Assistant
  • Nelson Chaney, executive
  • Arthur Jensen, Head of UBS
  • Mitja Lovše
    Director
  • Liam Hlede
    Floor Manager
  • Liam Hlede, Klara Kastelec, Mitja Lovše, Ivan Peternelj
    Warm-up Persons
  • Nathalie Horvat
    Make-up artist
  • Žana Štruc
    Wardrobe mistress
  • Sven Horvat (camera 2), Vid Uršič/Tadej Čaušević (camera 1), Jaka Žilavec (camera 3)
    Camera operators
  • Dare Kragelj
    Hot dog salesman
Credits
  • Camera control unit operator: Matjaž Pograjc/Tomo Brejc
  • Video direction: Tomo Brejc
  • Video design and engineering: Luka Dekleva
  • Dramaturgy: Urška Brodar
  • Language consultant: Mateja Dermelj
  • Costume design: Neli Štrukelj
  • Space design: Greta Godnič
  • Music: Tibor Mihelič Syed
  • Choreography: Branko Potočan
  • Lighting design: Andrej Petrovčič
  • Sound design: Jure Vlahovič
  • Make-up artist: Tina Prpar
  • Assistant director: Mitja Lovše
  • Costume design assistant: Estera Lovrec
  • Space design assistant: Sandi Mikluž
  • Makeup artist assistant: Marta Šporin
  • Stage manager: Liam Hlede

Video appearance:
Jack Snowden, presenter – Boris Kos
Member of Ecumenical Liberation Army – Vito Weis
President Ford – Dario Varga
Window persons – Mlado Mladinsko (Matic Eržen, Mira Giovanna Gabriel, Leon Kokošar, Nace Korošec, Mija Kramar, Tia Krhlanko, Hana Kunšič, Voranc Mandić, Aja Markovič, Jan Martinčič, Iza Napotnik, Jon Napotnik, Kaja Petrovič, Rosa Romih, Katka Slosar, Indija Stropnik, Jure Šimonka, Ronja Martina Usenik, Aiko Zakrajšek, Luka Žerdin)

Description

Network is a 1976 film directed by Sidney Lumet, which won several Oscars. In 2017 the renowned director Ivo van Hove directed a stage adaptation about the American media landscape. Network expounds the hunt for ratings: the hunt that knows no bounds. A television network opportunistically and ruthlessly exploits one of their host’s mental illness, when his “mad as hell” outbursts unexpectedly attract a new audience. In the words of Zdenko Vrdlovec, this dark satire portrays television as “a medium that is indifferent to any kind of content, because its manipulative power decides what the meaning of anything is. The televised spectacularization of the world in this film is pervasive, as any piece of information means nothing, if it is not presented as an ‘event’.” Even today this witty, sharp, perceptive, and rhythmically intense piece of work accurately, if not even more precisely, corresponds to the current media and social reality.

In the media

When Christiensen changes from a red skirt into red pants after she gets a more senior job, it’s a way of showing a woman who has taken a classic 'male' position, but it also highlights the patriarchal system, where a woman can only succeed in her career if she does not have or abandons stereotypical female behavioural patterns. Beale himself is also undoubtedly a product of this world – and this system.
Vastl performs Beale’s increasingly psychotic state with detailed changes and without going over the top. He seems detached from the rest of the characters, which is in keeping with the narrative. […]
Greta Godnič’s design recreates a television studio in the theatre, with a desk for the host located in the middle of the stage – and at the centre of events. There are other rooms dotted around this central desk, including a wardrobe department and an editorial office. Events also take place away from the main stage, in the backstage spaces and corridors of the theatre and even in the parking lot. We watch these scenes via cameras that follow the actors as they move away from the stage. This creates a voyeuristic feeling – it reminds us of the 'all-seeing' cameras in reality shows. It’s a technically ambitious and well-executed directorial choice, but never sacrifices clarity.

[T]he production does not only have an original concept, but also ambitious execution, and above all, it is in an active relationship with its topic – in the time of arbitrariness of ‘emotional truths’, Pograjc stages Network as a drama of multiplied perspectives, a result of combining of theatre and film levels: the viewer can thus follow the actions, set in a television studio, either as a full shot of the stage, or through different types of close-ups of the actors, broadcast live on the big screen above the stage (where the pre-recorded footage is also shown).

Even when it was first written, the scripts sharp humour was pointing at the problematic spots of news channels that succumb to the logic of the market, while today we can read it as a still (and potentially even more) relevant work, but with one key difference. The course of time moulded Chayefsky’s and Hall’s story from a dark comedy into a grotesque mirror of the [current] situation; and we could argue that in the context of current attitudes towards media it is even not bizarre enough.

The Pograjc-directed production closely follows the screenplay, or its stage adaptation done by Lee Hall. Like in the movie, the foreground is dominated by Diana Christiensen, whom Katarina Stegnar plays with aplomb. Desiring for a greater success of the UBS television she manipulates her colleagues and gets involved with the director of the news programme Max Schumacher (Matej Recer). The scenes that focus on their intimacy are increasingly moved to the backstage, to the theatre corridors and the yard, so that the stage in front of us often remains empty. In the meantime, we can watch the live footage of the actors outside the building on the screens inside the theatre. The form of the production plays with the concept of live and mediated, it uses the camera to bring bodies closer to us, and the same intermediary to take them away again. In it, the paradox of the meaning of ‘live’ constantly emerges in front of us, as one of the characteristics of theatre has always been the liveness of the here and now, but shooting footage, the onstage action takes a step towards mediated.

Fortunately, Hall retained all the most powerful dialogues and monologues from the film almost intact – this way, the core of Chayefsky’s brilliant screenplay that speaks of timeless, always worrisome truth, is also preserved. All those involved, from Chayefsky and Hall, to Pograjc and the cast are doing really well in the role of ‘a latter-day prophet denouncing the hypocrisies of our times’.

A stage image of events from the mid-1970s about the power and the abuse of media has, after almost five decades, a strangely sharp message for the people of various not only channels, but also networks, all sorts of screens with unpredictable effects that raise fear. But probably also awareness and consideration. This is what a production whose merciless pace merges acting onstage with acting that with the help of the cameras moves to backstage, through corridors and to the front of the theatre must achieve. Demanding in every aspect, the production justifies the existence and expressiveness of each element through the use of them.

(Tadeja Krečič, Radio Slovenija, April 21, 2022)
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