Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Great Expectations" and its new and unexpected ending

It must have been a few weeks ago that I had the dream.

I was back with my partner, with Suse, and we were having such a lovely time together.

We were laughing and completely at ease and taking such pleasure in each other’s presence and ech other’s company and it was as if her death from the brain tumour had never occurred. 

Nor all those months of nightmare suffering…

So much so that I was saying to myself: “Of course! This is what has been missing from my life all this time… And why haven’t we been together for so long? Surely some kind of strange silly mistake…?”

And then I woke up.

And knew.

I remembered my grief again, and it was all so hideously painful.

That day I got a message from Nozomi Abe, my Japanese translator, to say that Jun Kurata, the director of “Great Expectations” was having trouble with the ending.

The bit where Estella says

“Oh Pip take my hand before we part for ever.”

Kiichiro Kawauchi, her husband and co-founder of the Company has recently died and so she was finding the pain of that ending so unbearable she could not find a way to stage it.

And could I help her somehow?

On that particular day her pain so utterly resonated with mine. And so I became Estella again. Just long enough to see if she could say something different. Something more hopeful perhaps.

And she could. And so I changed the ending to a happy one.

And people gasp when I tell them and say: But how could you do that?

And I say: Dickens did the same.

My first ending - with Estella and Pip parting - was the same as his original ending to the book.

But his best friend told him that could not be. The readers would want so much for them to stay together, he told Dickens. Who allowed himself to be persuaded.

As I did. Only not for the sake of the audience. But to give comfort to Jun.

And to myself also, perhaps…

My wonderful translator send the new ending to the Company that very afternoon.

And will it work?

The play opens in just under two hours. And then I’ll know….

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