Jane Seyes

Above: Jane Seyes on-screen during rehearsals. The puppet and puppeteers were onstage and clearly visible to the audience, but the video streaming brought her into luminous close-up.

When I first read the libretto for The Mare’s Tale, I was concerned that Jane Seyes appears so briefly in the drama. She has just two scenes, though both brim with information that help us understand her character and plight. In the early stages of rehearsal the creative team noted again and again that while her on-stage appearances were relatively brief, her presence suffused the entire work, putting her at the heart of it.

People have been kind enough to say that it was a brave act, having her represented onstage and onscreen by a puppet. In fact it was nothing of the sort. There is only one actor in The Mare’s Tale, and in our case that was Eric. He conjured Jane through the sensitivity of his reading of her, and the puppet was originally a notion I had to conjure another person on stage to help the audience leave the physical Eric behind. But puppetry is a magic art, and between them, Eric, Ann and Diana produced a completely plausible presence. Three into one brought Jane compellingly to life, and aided and abetted by Harriet Wallis’ sensitive camera-work, she tore people’s hearts out.

‘For me, almost the most moving part was early on, and the first appearance of the puppet/wife: the puppet was quite exceptionally beautiful and expressive, and the sense of her positive identity and individual existence, ignored and misunderstood by her husband, and her complex awareness of this, was both powerful and subtle. Here everything worked together brilliantly.  I found what it did do, though (the feminist in me perhaps?), was break much of my sympathy for the husband, making him appear more selfish and unthinking than was perhaps intended. So his own disintegration was less emotionally engaging.’
Frances Mannsaker

Jane Seyes puppet, backstage…

… on her death bed…

 … and in the form of an apparition.

1 thought on “Jane Seyes

  1. Clive, having followed the fascinating saga of the creation of this performance from the start, in the wonderfully illustrated way you have shared it , I’m wondering now how you’re going to be able to get back to the loneliness of painting, after the satisfaction and excitment of harmonious collaboration with such a talented team and all the variety of tasks involved. I know that you chose to leave behind your theatrical skills for the quasi-monastic life of an easel painter, but did this new excursion into multi-media theatre make you feel that you might want to do more of it?

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