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Actors embark on a fatal rise


Actor Joe Klocek stares at his own mountain. His job is to portray Simpson, a man who very quickly finds himself terribly injured, lost, starved, frozen, incapable and more lonely than any of us could ever be.

How is he going to convey the emotion of this situation while clinging to a theatrical mountain himself? “Can I report back on it?” he says with a laugh. “I have to try a whole bunch of things to see what is possible when I do it every night … I think a lot will depend on the breath. I will be physically exhausted. I have to bring out dialogues and show the emotions too. I know that sounds super-theater-nerdy, but if I can concentrate on my breathing, the show will be a lot easier for me. “

Focusing on breathing is something that climbers and actors share; it’s not the only commonality that Klocek noticed. “Even the churches have similarities in some ways. I’m sure the climbing community would say, “We’re not like actors!” what they are not, they are very different, but you come together as a climbing partner to achieve this goal, to climb this mountain, and it’s very much like coming together to put on a play.

“You have to learn to trust very quickly, and when you’re on stage, trust is in the other actors. They are your support and your lifeline. This is perfectly geared towards mountaineering. And when the journey is over, when you have reached the summit, pardon the pun, you will go your separate ways. “

“When you’re on stage, you trust the other actors,” says Joe Klocek to the left of Kevin Hofbauer.Credit:Charlie Kinross

This is one of the existentially more existentially confusing elements of climbing, at least for outsiders: the life you hold in your hands is often someone you met a few days ago. In the case of Joe Simpson, he attempted a climb that no one had made while tied to Simon Yates, a guy he barely knew.


In just a few moments, the relationship between the two went from that short-circuited style of climbing to one where it was clear that not everyone would make it down the mountain alive.

Grieg’s script brings a surprising number of laughs, given the life-or-death nature of Simpson’s story. Still, there are several pages where the only direction is: Joe screams. “We are currently working on that,” says Klocek. “What each cry means and whether it is a cry of pain or a cry of disbelief or a cry for help. It’s nice to have ‘Joe screaming’ because it’s up to the actor to decide what to do. “

During rehearsals, Kalive found that not all screams are created equal. “Sometimes the smallest scream or the most delicate touch in the audience can evoke the same reaction as a really big scream,” says the director. “I’m playing with the dynamics of all the different ways we read or hear pain instead of saying, ‘Scream! Scream! Scream!'”


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