We chatted to Marc Antolin about reprising his role in The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk.

Marc Antolin and Audrey Brisson (c)Steve Tanner.

Hi Marc, for those not familiar with the story what is The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk about? The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk follows the lives of Marc and Bella Chagall, we first meet them as young teenagers falling
head over heels in love and charts the rest of their lives as they encounter some of the most devastating times in history. It explores themes of love, art, what it is to be an artist and sacrificing things to support someone else’s art. It’s a theatrical treat combining text, movement and gorgeous music to bring life to Chagall’s paintings.

How are you feeling about reprising your role? It’s so incredibly exciting, this is my fourth time revisiting this role and each time I’ve got to do it, it has meant more and more to me each time. It’s a piece where different things resonate, sometimes daily, depending on what state the world
is in, how I’ve changed as a person and current situations. Above all it celebrates love and art and I think it will be quite emotional and vital to do it in these covid times where we find ourselves turning to these two things.

How hard is it to portray a real-life personality such as Marc Chagall to life? It’s always daunting playing a real person because you want to get it right, but also it’s great because so much of your work as an actor has been done for you. I spent lots of time researching Marc and his work and visited galleries in Nice and exhibitions in Chicago and London showcasing his work. It sounds weird but when you immerse yourself so much in a character you feel a strange connection to them. Coincidentally I look a bit like him but the great thing about playing a character in theatre is that you get to heighten certain characteristics whilst also adding some of yourself in there to capture their spirit.

How does it feel knowing you will be performing on stage again? Ah, so wonderful. When this all started in March, I was about to fly out to America to do Romantics Anonymous with Wise Children, very quickly I had written off being back on a stage this year but it’s so wonderful that these Live
Streams have been set up to generate work for freelancers and to bring theatre to people’s homes. In some ways, by exploring new genres in this hybrid world of theatre on film I’m hopeful that great things will come out of it in terms of access for lots more people in the future.

What was it about the story that made you want to be in the production originally? Originally when the audition came through I was just desperate to get the job to work with Emma Rice. I’d been a fan of
her for years and was so excited to meet her. When we started working on it four years ago and doing all the research into Marc and Bella’s lives, I was astonished by what they, in particular Marc had lived through and I was quite humoured by the fact of playing another Marc with a C. It was also such a joy to throw all my skills into this show, it’s become very
personal and close to me.

What have you missed the most about live theatre? Ah, so much. I notice things daily, even silly things like noisy sweet wrappers, show stops, panicking trying to turn your phone off as the lights go down. But mostly I miss my friends, having a shared completely live experience with lots of
people and seeing audiences faces looking back at you. I’m hopeful that we will all be back soon sharing wonderful stories.

By Emma Clarendon

The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk is being live streamed until the 5th December and then available on demand from the 11th to the 18th December.