Lyceum season introduction

Apr 27 2017 | By More

A time to take risks.

The Lyceum’s artistic director, David Greig, has created a vibrant and mouthwatering 2017 – 2018 season.

Elsewhere we carry a news story about the season and a detailed listings. But here, Greig talks about the background to the season and his reasoning behind it.

David Greig at work in the rehearsal studio 2017. Photo Aly Wight

“This is a time of political turmoil and civic upheaval. All around us we see fraught binaries: Britain and Europe, England and Scotland, Yes and No, Left and Right, Men and Women… In these times more than ever we seek refuge in the theatre: an engine of empathy and play, a forum of understanding and ideas, a place where, through the prism of a great story, we can discover ourselves anew.

“In this season, the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh responds to a world in turmoil by staging a series of ten bold plays, a mix of undiscovered classics, new plays, and fresh adaptations, each telling a truly theatrical story which reflects directly on the great issues of the day.

“In What Shadows, Chris Hannan examines the life of Enoch Powell, the progenitor of Brexit. In forgotten classic Cockpit, British soldiers guarding refugees attempt to forge a new Europe out of the ashes of war. In Wind Resistance, Karine Polwart brings together reflections on Alex Ferguson, geese and peat bogs to find a socialism of nature, and in Rhinoceros, Zinnie Harris and Murat Daltaban find fresh resonance in Ionesco’s fable about groupthink and the individual.

gained in relevance

“Our production of The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other, postponed from this year to give it time to flourish, has only gained in relevance as Peter Handke’s exploration of the fragility of everyday life, how easily everything we know can be lost, seems to speak of public squares in Aleppo and Calais, as well in Washington and Edinburgh.

Karine Polwart in Wind Resistance. Pic: Aly Wight

“The politics of gender come to the fore in three of our plays. In Tony Cownie’s rare revival of the great restoration comedy The Belle’s Stratagem by Hannah Cowley the ploys and tricks of men and women are exposed and teased. In Jemima Levick and Fleur Darkin’s adaptation of Marguerite Duras’ The Lover, a woman looks back at her adolescent love affair with an older man in colonial Indochina, and in August Strindberg’s The Creditors a couple tear each other apart in a forensic tragicomedy of marriage.

“Lastly, our Christmas show, a new version of The Arabian Nights by Suhayla El-Bushra, finds the mischievous heroine Scheherezade saving the cosmopolitan and colourful marketplace of Old Baghdad from the Sultan who would destroy it, with the only weapon she has to hand: stories. This new play with songs will be directed by Joe Douglas, who has brought The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, Death of A Salesman and George’s Marvellous Medicine to the Dundee Rep stage.

“A good play should always say something new about the world and something new about theatre. This season’s work continues our aim of pushing theatrical form with Lyceum productions.

a lost classic

Cockpit, set in a theatre full of refugees just after World War II will see director Wils Wilson turn the whole theatre into a site specific space in order to realise a lost classic of the British West End canon. In Wind Resistance, Karine Polwart mixes song, storytelling and non-fiction in an intensely personal and hugely emotional piece of performance. In The Lover, Jemima Levick will collaborate with Fleur Darkin of Scottish Dance Theatre to create a tapestry of dance, music, prose and theatre to realise Marguerite Duras’ classic novella.

“In Rhinoceros we bring Turkish Director Murat Daltaban to Scotland to continue his long collaboration with Zinnie Harris in a fresh version of Ionesco’s play, and Stewart Laing, Scotland’s foremost visionary director will apply his eye to the wild energy of Strindberg.

“For the first time, it’s a season with more productions written and directed by women than men. It’s a season which will see us work with artists coming from the Middle East, China, Turkey and Europe. It’s a season in which we see two lost classics by women have their major UK revivals.

“I’m incredibly proud of the plays we’ve put together for my second season. Against a very stringent financial backdrop we are building on the success of the last two years and continuing our strategy of risk taking and adventure.

“Scotland, The UK, Europe and The World have all felt strange and unfamiliar over the last two years. Old certainties are fading. New questions are taking their place. There is a crying need for solidarity, empathy, joy and finding ourselves in the lives of others.

“If there was ever a time for a theatre to take risks, this moment is it.”

David Greig
Artistic Director
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
April 2017.

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