The Lovers – Spun Glass Theatre – 11/03/2015
The Marlborough Theatre
11th March 2015
Brighton-based Spun Glass Theatre are returning to the stage next week with a devised piece of theatre that uses Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to ask questions about why we fall in love.
Having won the Argus Angel award at the Brighton Fringe Festival for their atmospheric, intimate production You Left Me in The Dark, this grassroots company are back with full force – and the support of Arts Council England – to continue examining the nature of love.
We begin with Theodore and Anthony, a same-sex couple who plan to run away together to find a more tolerant society. They are followed into the woods by Elizabeth, who is in love with Theodore; in turn followed by Helena, pining for Elizabeth’s love.
Whilst Shakespeare’s text was taken as a basis for the project’s development, what’s emerged from the rehearsal room is something far more contemporary, engaging and relevant to today’s audiences.
Company Director Jessica Cheetham explains:
“I thought – couldn’t we stage a stripped down version of the well-loved text ending it with two same-sex couples. If we begin with these altered sexes does Puck’s bewitchment in the woods result in deeper confusion and humour, and reveal something darker in the end?
I want to use this idea of playing with Shakespeare to create discussions around the representation of gender onstage, creating full characters who are comfortable with their sexuality – it’s not everything that defines them – heading away from stereotypes and the definitions from mainstream media.”
The Lovers is dynamic both in its content and presentation: VJ artist Kara Darch has infused the space with her visceral animations. As she operates them live onstage, she’s responding directly to the four actors, and them to her. It’s hugely collaborative, with Tim Shaw’s soundscapes completing the multimedia experience. Shaw’s been gathering these sounds from nature, grabbing every chance to record thunderstorms, wind and birds tweeting. There’s a sense that it’s all real, immediate and each performance slightly unique.
It’s a truly open project that’s been engaging people across the country; their two symposium events were streamed live, and are now available to watch on their YouTube channel. Spun Glass Theatre are involving real people and real stories in discussions of love, gender and sexuality, and immediately feeding these ideas back into the rehearsal process. The result is a piece of work that’s bold, vibrant, and a true representation of love in the 21st Century.
The Lovers work-in-progress showcase performance is playing at The Marlborough Theatre on Wednesday 11th March, 7.45-8.45pm.