It’s been pretty busy round here lately. After “A Tender Thing” closed I had a few weeks respite to catch my breath, work on the thesis revisions, do a couple of short films before heading to the States.
In LA I did the two week intensive workshops on Knight-Thompson Speech and Accent training. That was a total blast. Intense, challenging, deeply satisfying in oh so many ways.
Not only was the training better than first class, the whole group was such a fantastic mixture of teachers, performers and even the odd linguist that there was much richness of shared experience and fellowship.
After that, I shot up to Seattle to visit the family and catch up with colleagues, with more exchanges of professional knowledge and experience – and ideas.
Back in Brisbane, I went straight into rehearsals with Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble, for a production of Friedrich Schiller’s extraordinary play “Mary Stuart”.
I am now engaged in a creative development project with a Clown Troupe, developing a new show that will go into full production early in 2014.
All in all, a pretty exciting year – and it ain’t over yet!
I’m in a play. Just in case you hadn’t heard. And I’m pretty old. So why would you want to see a play with old people in it? Shouldn’t the arts, and theatre in particular (which, we are constantly being told, is dying) be about young people? Shouldn’t it be up to date with the latest technology, with lots of blood and explosions and examinations of 21st century issues?
How about a play about love that lasts a lifetime. Are young people interested in that, as a possibility? Or are they only attracted to a play about young people who die young? Is it true that young people don’t believe that old people understand love? Is it true that old people have all forgotten what young love is like?
This play I’m in was written by a young man. Ben Power is an English playwright and dramaturg who was in his twenties when he moved from one of the UK’s most dynamic, inventive theatre companies, Headlong Theatre, to become an Associate Director at the RSC, (in 2009) who then commissioned him to create a modern day adaptation of Shakespeare’s text of Romeo & Juliet.
In this new form, Romeo is in his seventies. It’s not the same Romeo. This one met his Juliet at a dance in town when they were both teenagers. They married, had a child, lost the child, worked, played, lived a full life, and retired to somewhere on the coast. So they didn’t die young. Does that make them any less romantic?
I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. I put them out there as a challenge. Ben Power’s play, “A Tender Thing” is a challenge, not because it is difficult – it’s not a difficult play. It’s clear, open, refreshingly different. It’s Shakespeare, Jim, but not as we know it. It’s difficult because it takes a highly contentious, contemporary issue that is very much in the news and on our minds in this year of 2013, and examines it through the passionate love story of two otherwise ordinary people. Yes, they could be your grandparents. But don’t stop there. They could be you.