Gearing Up For The Road

Zenghui Qiu rehearses with Adam Best

By Ramin Gray

So, we finally move from playing the Drum Theatre Plymouth, where we were happily ensconced for three weeks, to the open road. This is a new venture for me but, of course, as old as the hills, part of the romantic DNA of the theatre. ‘The actors are come my liege’, says Polonius, knowing they’ll whet Hamlet’s jaded appetite, bringing variety of form but also, the latest news and content from the city. And that’s an aspect of the theatre that’s still relevant today. The playwright David Hare often talks of the young writer as a rebuke to the staid ways of the older generation and that when he or she bursts into the room, they bring ‘news from the street’.

I like to think that news can assume many shapes and perhaps that’s what characterizes Roland Schimmelpfennig’s play best of all: its formal invention. From its concurrent running of several plotlines, to its refusal to let the actors use their own gender, age and ethnicity all in one go, the play always makes the argument for imagination. And this week in rehearsals, as we try to get our heads around the different sizes and dimensions of the spaces coming up, we are beginning to realize just how beautifully flexible and malleable the play is. It’s lovely to see the actors again after their short break and the easy intimacy of the company makes the rehearsals a pleasure: irreverent, thoughtful and efficient, gently probing the play and digging up more possibility.

We’re playing the Holt Festival this Friday in the sort of end on world we had in Plymouth but from next week we are on the three sided planet of the Traverse in Edinburgh: right now, that’s looking like a great way to experience the play.


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