Professor Gunduz Jem Kalic is a theatre director, acting coach and former actor long fascinated with the place of the fool within theatre and society , actively working on some exciting projects. Watch the showreel.

Play, Performance, Fooling


Theatre contains the profound practicality of child’s play and extends beyond. Not merely a dictionary of human behaviour, theatre is a highly practical tool for deciphering human behaviour…Through rehearsal, we can directly access the wisdom embedded in the great theatrical texts. As children literally grow through playing, playing in rehearsal can be a means to learn from, be guided by, actually be changed by human giants like Shakespeare, Sophocles, Molière, Marlowe, Chekhov, Ibsen, GB Shaw, Miller and so on. The magic, the life force, the humanity, the insight, contained in their perceptions of human life can be transmitted to both player and audience far more concretely and advantageously than we know.

The play should be a vehicle to deliver the person. The person should deliver the play, yes, but should never be merely a vehicle. As audiences, we ought to be sharing Shakespeare, his poetry, his Hamlet coupled with and inseminated by the person who is playing. Hamlet ought to be played through the filter of the player’s unique life experiences, with the player in full awareness and control of the life experiences he shares.

Playing in theatre means acknowledging the self. The player tells and enacts the story as himself. The player does not become the character for either himself or his audience. He does not blur himself with the fiction of the play. He constantly acknowledges the differences and similarities of the character to himself. The devices he uses are constantly separable from self. The self is not fictionalized. Playing in theatre is not about “which set of lies we give” our audiences or about “lying to tell the truth”. Yet, this in no way detracts from theatrical believability for the audience.

A player should give to his role, yes. But the player’s role should give as much to him.

Playing in theatre is an exploration of self in and through the medium… Rehearsal … is first a facilitating tool for the player to find out how he himself responds to the dramatic situation. Playing in theatre is a mirror for the player. This kind of acting…offers an incremental clarification of self. The player is involved in a process of discovery. The player becomes part of an activity which is both learning and evoking. He finds out a thing or two about the self.

My aim is that instead of the actor’s creative use of the lie we have the actor who dares tell the truth. Every creation within these boundaries is beautiful, as Koestler says. This kind of creation has a very different, very human beauty. As with the best jazz and blues, it shares its immediate connection with its audience, does not merely demonstrate its performance capabilities and skills. This theatre is nearer to the art, closer to the…intentions [of playwrights]. It is more moving, more organic, has more depth, colour and range. Because of the reality base of the feeling, the audience has more of a chance to share rather than merely watch. In tragedy or comedy the audience is affected by the actors literally and openly sharing something of themselves.

Before I came across Castells
Before I’d heard of Debord or Baudrillard
I called the way our world works
The artificial order
By that I meant that artifice – including performance – was being used to rule our lives
And that this way of ordering society was not good, was somehow not ‘natural’
Certainly artifice and performance have a place in life
Certainly it is not possible to make performance without artifice
Certainly it is not possible for life, everyday or otherwise, to be without performance
Yet I felt that place of artifice and performance in life had become too great
Too interested
Too much at the service of power and commerce
Too much bread and circus
Alongside Genet
I perceived that theatricality hid power, was a mode of power
I felt that artifice and performance in life had become too effective, too encompassing
The upshot was that I felt that human ‘spontaneity’ and individuality were under threat
That performance was eroding the human, taking us over.

A fool tries to test the limits of being excused because a fool.

Neither licensed nor excused, although she would much like to be supported, a fool has no patrons except the common public. He is like a master-less mongrel street dog every so often finding some food, every so often finding patrons who can afford to throw away some crumbs of their surplus, which will last until the next starvation.

The Nun's Victim's Son's Story

“So this is my memory of Gunduz which comes from when we were rehearsing…in 2007. In rehearsal we were working with developing ‘triggers’ which were semi-improvised bits of text and personal story which we would put before the actual text from the original script in order to get into the right ‘place’ to actually perform the text. The triggers were kind of like a performed parallel. So one particular piece of text we were working on was the section that dealt with… the ridiculousness of religion. One particular facet of these triggers was that there is a feeling that if we didn’t laugh we’d cry – you don’t laugh at that situation, you cry and so it’s necessary to start a loop wherein the actor risks quite a lot of pain in order to then laugh himself while he is in pain. Laughing at pain in order to disarm.

I told a story about my dad who had been schooled as a boy by catholic nuns and this woman called Sister C. who beat him and slammed his fingers in desks and broke rulers across his hands and smashed his knuckles up and generally was quite abusive to my dad and when I was telling the story I found myself getting quite upset by it. In working with Gunduz meant that one always worked at height – one was very energised in the telling of anything and the doing of anything and that resulted in a very very big investment of self into what one did. So I became quite upset at this story and then at the height of that Gunduz who was working with me on a one-to-one basis asked me to laugh at it. He helped by laughing at it with me and he started fooling around with the story that I was telling about my dad and we ended up either being my dad inviting abuse or being my dad willing a priest to beat him and perform sexual acts and it was hilarious but it is necessary, necessary to go through that whole cycle and do that with a huge amount of care. We were able to take to translate that into performance I think.

The memory of Gunduz is of him and I laughing joyfully at the church and everything that it stands for with me and my dad and it felt like that at that point my dad got back at the church in a little way through me. Just as a note my dad came to see the performance and said he’d never laughed as hard in his life.”