Director Tyler J. Seguin talks Franz Ferdinand Must Die

Tyler J. Seguin Shares his thoughts on Franz Ferdinand Must Die, the touring hit opening in Toronto March 18th.


When Tyler J. Seguin first worked on a Still Your Friend production he was on stage, playing the Devilish Host in the award winning The Assassination of Robert Ford: Dirty Little Coward. As Still Your Friend once again tackles a famous assassination, the Stratford Festival Alumni, who is the co-Artistic Director of the Guild Festival Theatre, returns to direct, creating a show that has gained critical acclaim across the country. Tyler tells us what drew him to the project:

“I have always loved history… I think that theatre is always about the here-and-now but that we need a little distance to fully recognize ourselves in the story. If a play is too close to our lived experience, we become wrapped up in our daily baggage (political, social, intellectual) to engage with each character fully. And since theatre is an act of empathy, I like to provide the audience with the safe distance of time to help them enter the world of the play with as few preconceptions as possible.

FFMD is very much a play about what is going on in the world right now. It asks the audience to empathize with people who are deeply prejudiced, who are radicalized, who have bad leadership and a questionable moral compass. But because we can see them from 100 years in the past, we can have sympathy for them. We can look at their circumstances honestly. And we can allow ourselves to step inside them for the briefest of moments. Theatre takes courage for both the audience and the artist, and I have always found history to be that little bit of protection that allows everyone to open their hearts.

Franz Ferdinand Adam Bailey and Gavrilo PrincipWhen Adam [Bailey] approached me to work on FFMD, I realized how little I knew about the details surrounding the event that sparked WWI – one of the worst tragedies in human history. The more I read, the more amazed I was with the strange coincidences, the odd facts, the unlikely heroes and villains. Then I realized how many conflicting reports and accounts there are of the assassination – perfect fodder for conspiracy theorists. And just to make things even more complicated, I learned how the official record declares Gavrilo Princep to be a murderer, a liberator, a radical, a hero, a terrorist, a nationalist and how none of these things have anything to do with the real Princep. History is something we create, some version of people and events we collectively agree on and I’m fascinated by how much or how little reality enters into a historical account. I’m very proud of the way we wove our questions about our story into the play itself. You should walk away doubting everything you just heard, but knowing that none of it is untrue. The design of the show is inspired to make us wonder about sources, and history as something we actively create.
Working on this show was the most pleasurable kind of challenge as we discovered the unique voices of each character and exploring how and when to slip in and out of them. This show is incredibly athletic and Adam is a virtuoso at instantly creating a fully formed human with the slightest of adjustments, sometimes bouncing in and out of multiple characters in a single line.

From the beginning, I knew we needed a strong sound design. Adam has zero costume changes and with minimal set and lighting, I wanted to make sure that the audience could follow the rapid action and scene changes. Alex and I have collaborated many times and thoroughly understand each other’s perspective. What I love about Alex is his ability to take something literal like the sound of a car engine and turn it into something impressionistic that makes you rumble with dread. He’s always so sensitive to the emotional tone of a scene and seems to always add layers of nuance through the subtlest of sounds”.

Franz Ferdinand Must Die plays March 18th to the 29th at RED Sandcastle Theatre, 922 Queen Street East and you can get your tickets by clicking here.

FF Must Die

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