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Five Truths - an immersive video installation at the V&A

Exhibition preview

Five Truths, an immersive video installation in the V&A’s Theatre and Performance Galleries, explores how five different directors represent truth through performance.

On display from July 12 until August 29, 2011, it offers a unique and challenging insight into directing styles and an opportunity to experience and compare five contrasting interpretations of the same familiar scene.

The Five Truths installation, directed by National Theatre Associate Director Katie Mitchell, takes as its inspiration five of Europe’s most influential 20th century theatre directors. It explores the difference between their work and examines how each of the five practitioners would direct the actress playing Ophelia in the famous mad scene in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Inside the multimedia installation, ten screens of varying sizes simultaneously play films of Ophelia’s mad scene, interpreted dramatically through the lens of the five theatre directors – Constantin Stanislavski, Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Jerzy Grotowski and Peter Brook.

Each version is performed by Olivier award-winning actress Michelle Terry, whose portrayal of Ophelia will illustrate the diversity in the directing styles of these five key practitioners.

Katie Mitchell, Director said: “Theatre makers seldom get the chance to explore their practice outside the intense process of making productions. It was a huge privilege to work with the V&A and to enter the world of exhibitions and installations.

“The commission provided an enormous challenge to myself and my collaborators to crystallise our thinking about the most important directors of the 20th century. We hope that what we have made will bring our theatrical ideas to life in a simple and direct way that speaks to theatre and non-theatre goers in equal measure.”

Five Truths has been created for the V&A in association with the National Theatre by director Katie Mitchell, video designer Leo Warner of 59 Productions, set designer Vicki Mortimer, sound designer Gareth Fry, lighting designer Paule Constable, and composer Paul Clark.