director | theatre maker | acting teacher
I’m tremendously excited to be heading to Madrid at the end of January to run a four-day workshop on Shakespeare’s Coriolanus with the actors of Téatro Kamikaze, winners of the Spanish National Theatre Award 2017.
We’ll be working on several of the public/political scenes from the play, exploring how they relate to current movements in Spanish, and more generally European, politics: democratic deadlock and media manipulation, historic dictatorship and incipient nationalism, secession and insurgency. We’ll also be working on developing a new translation of the play, which remains relatively unknown and very rarely performed in Spain.
I’m especially pleased that the project brings together two exceptionally talented former students, who have been instrumental in organising the work: Kamikaze ensemble member and star of Las Chicas del Cable Martiño Rivas, who was part of the first MA Acting cohort at Central in 2010, and actor/director Paula Rodriguez of Teatro Inverso, who was in the 2014 cohort.
For personal-political reasons, I’m also very glad that I will be in the EU, working on Shakespeare’s great study of hatred and enmity in the tongue of Elizabethan England’s great enemy, on January 31st. What miserable foolishness it is to leave this all behind.
Hasta la victoria siempre.
And did those feet, in ancient times … ?
Next project with Anna Healey: in April we’re opening the Courtyard Theatre in Central’s £16.7m North Block development. We’ve chosen something ambitious and timely to inaugurate a new performance space: Shakespeare’s late tragi-comic national identity myth. If it isn’t obvious why this feels like the play for this moment, we’ve decided to use the full early modern title of the Shakespeare play which contains the most uses of the word ‘Britain’. It’s strange beginning work on a play about Britain and not having any idea what Britain will be like when we stage it, in just 12 weeks’ time.
We’re excited to collaborate with Lizzy Leech as designer, and to work once more with Dan Balfour on sound, composer Paul Sartin, Josh Gadsby on light (with Sam Thomas) and fight director Bethan Clark.
The show runs from 10-13 April at 7pm, with 2pm matinees on the 11 and 13 April. Tickets can be booked here.
Cymbeline feels personally timely too, as one of the last explorations of the theme of father/daughter relationships which obsessed Shakespeare throughout his career; my daughter Aria Ruth made her first entrance in January:
Thou met’st with things dying, I with things newborn …
I haven’t posted news here about my scholarly work before, but maybe I should – even if only because I haven’t posted any news in a really long time.
Today was a day. In the morning, a paper on Shakespeare, Monstrosity, Acting and the Devilish at the Perdition Catch My Soul symposium at Shakespeare’s Globe; in the afternoon a presentation on my work with Pop-up Globe at the New Old Spaces colloquium at the Rose Theatre, Kingston. As the final act of a busy term teaching five groups of acting students from as many institutions, two papers in one day in august scholarly-theatrical environments, concentrating on two different and yet codependent aspects of my work: the scholarly and the theatrical, natch.
Because I idiotically double-booked myself.
Monstrous. So it goes. Next, there’s this buskin about to shake this great stage of fools:
See you next year …
Each day of rehearsals for The Rover feels like a workout. Last year’s MA Acting show, The Devils, contained an absurd number of technical cues – in the midi’d-360s, I think. This year’s The Rover contains at least as many complications and improbabilities. Solving its stylistic and dramaturgical puzzles is at least as hard as the hardest thing I’ve done …
As the media’s flames began to dance merrily around the feet of the patriarchy this autumn, I had a shameful revelation. Shameful in itself and shameful too that I hadn’t hitherto been aware of it.
I haven’t ever directed a play by a woman.
I should pause on this. I suppose, the fact that I make all the productions I make working very closely with women, has allowed me to either unconsciously ignore or subconsciously excuse that fact. (It’s no excuse.) Dead men roam unchallenged around the margins of my work.
High time to do a play by a dead woman, then. I’ve always known about Aphra Behn, never made her acquaintance before. Virginia Woolf wrote of her:
All women together, ought to let flowers fall upon the grave of Aphra Behn… for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds… Behn proved that money could be made by writing at the sacrifice, perhaps, of certain agreeable qualities; and so by degrees writing became not merely a sign of folly and a distracted mind but was of practical importance.
Behn is an extraordinary character. Her background is mostly obscure, contradictory; she spent time at the fringes of the early English colonial project in Surinam, travelled widely, may have been a spy. As well as being the first professional female playwright in English, she wrote one of the first novels, Oroonoko, a plea for racial tolerance. No saint though: an unashamed elitist and anti-Semite – sharing, indeed, certain disagreeable qualities with her later admirer.
So, Anna Healey and I will be making The Rover with the 2018 MA Acting (Classical) cohort at Central, April 17-20 in the Webber Douglas Studio. We’re delighted to be working once more with Manuela Harding, Ed McKay and Dan Balfour. Booking details to follow shortly …
I’ve just returned from Aotearoa/NZ, where I’ve been re-rehearsing Othello for a season in Melbourne, Australia. We had to say goodbye to Te Kohe Tuhaka due to other commitments, but I was absolutely delighted to introduce the brilliant Regan Taylor to the title role. We found Regan through his extraordinary and innovative one-man version of Othello, performed with Maori masks. He’s one of the most interesting and creative actors I’ve had the good fortune of working with, and I think his performance is going to be very special indeed. You can book tickets to the Melbourne run of the production, which was highly critically acclaimed in its Auckland incarnation, here. Pictures and reviews of the Auckland show are here.
I’m about to head back to Aotearoa/New Zealand to direct the remount of Othello for a limited season in Melbourne, Australia. Pop-up Globe will be popping up by the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Kings Domain. Booking is now open until November 2017.
This production is wildly ambitious, technically complex, mentally exhausting and creatively stimulating. I’m working with a brilliant team and company. Come see it. One of the actors, the excellent James Haxby, put together some questions for the production’s WordPress page which made me write in a focused manner about the work. It’s here.
Having just returned from an incredible experience making ‘Othello’ for the second season of Pop-up Globe in Auckland, New Zealand, I’m delighted to be starting work on my next project at Central, ‘The Devils’ by John Whiting. My dear friend and frequent collaborator Anna Healey and I will be adapting and directing, with set by Max Dorey, costume by Manuela Harding, light by Joshua Gadsby and sound by Dan Balfour.
The production will play in the Embassy Theatre at Central, 26-29 July at 7pm with matinees at 2pm on the 27 and 29. Tickets can be booked here.