Tuesday, May 10, 2011

new productions of ines

INES DE CASTRO is maybe one of the plays I am most fond of.

I wrote one winter in about ten days, walking in the woods beside Roslin Chapel.

Ian Brown directed it in the old Traverse. Alison Peebles played Ines; Una McLean played Death. The production was amazing. You can get a flavour of it here:

I remember a very pale young man coming up to me after the first preview, with an air of great intensity and suffering on his face. He told me he wanted to turn it into an opera.

He turned out to be James Macmillan. And he wrote it.

Scottish Opera premiered it at the Edinburgh festival, i forget exactly when, and the Observer said it was a piece of pornography and all further performances should be banned.

Needless to say, the music was wonderful. In many ways, the hugest artistic compliment anyone has paid me.

The play was filmed, shown on BBC 2, as was the opera, which was revived twice and performed in Oporto. And I also turned it into a radio play.

But basically since then it has vanished from the British professional stage.

Which is a shame. But a shame I've had to get used to.

That means its all the more wonderful that all of a sudden two companies have decided to revive it. And revive it under such different circumstances.

Shakespeare Carolina (http://www.shakescar.org/) perform Shakespeare. This is their first non-Shakespearean play, which is itself a great honour, directed by Chris O'Neill. He's an artist of great integrity and skill who I met some years ago when he invited me to Winthrop University, where he was directing a production performed by drama students.

I remember the charming and kind 19 year old who played the king driving me around on deserted highways in the path of a tornado. Of seeing the Confederate flag still hanging on remote farmsteads.

Chris and his company operate in a fierce and unforgiving commercial environment; and it moves me profoundly that he should stage so uncommercial a piece. For the love of it.

Some photos can be found here http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150235872817082.362151.657127081

The other production, by Teatar Verat, in Uzice, Serbia, is more of a mystery.

The company producing publicity images have blogged the process here http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=195441550499782&set=pu.182775681766369&type=1&theater
... and created some powerful images.

The play is about a civil war: and it moves me profoundly, given the crucial importance language plays in national identity,that this Serbian company should be using a Croatian translation. That the artists involved, translator and director, who fought on different sides, should be working together on this.

I am so curious as to what has happened: I wish i could be there.


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