It’s all go at the moment!
Posted on Mon 14 May 2012 by Stephen Unwin
I’ve loved directing The Conquest of the South Pole at the Arcola.
It’s an extraordinary play that, funnily enough, speaks even more forcefully today than it did when I first directed it in 1988. With youth unemployment rocketing, and a growing sense of desperation, the play’s wild, youthful, energy is the real deal. It’s been fascinating for me seeing it through the eyes of this brilliant young cast. And it’s felt very personal to me too: my 20 year-old son, Laurie, was amazed that his ancient dad could have created something so relevant to his generation, and the young boy in the play with profound learning difficulties, Frankieboy, reminds me of my own fifteen year old Joey. I can’t wait to see it at the Rose: don’t miss it, whatever you do. It’s an amazing experience.
One of the great perks of my job is getting to meet remarkable people. I was really quite nervous about interviewing Jo Brand in her Time to Talk last week, but what a delightful and intelligent woman she is. And Alison Steadman was a joy. And I’ve so enjoyed getting to know Michael Frayn a bit: he’s terrifically bright, but never makes others feel stupid, and is so modest too. Here has been a huge success here (ha, ha!) with more than 10,000 people coming to see it.
As you can see from the website, in the autumn I’m directing Pinero’s The Second Mrs Tanqueray. I’ve loved Pinero for years: the great farces are laugh out loud funny, and the more serious plays combine the depth and insight of Ibsen, with the surface wit and style of Oscar Wilde. The play hasn’t been revived for years (Felicity Kendal played Paula, the fallen woman at the National in the 1980s) and I hope that – as we did with Rattigan – we’re leading the way where others will follow. Now I just have to cast it!
What else is happening? I’m looking forward to working with the Rose Players on As You Like It tonight, and tomorrow night I’m seeing The Tobacco Factory’s much praised production The Cherry Orchard at the Rose (I commissioned the Stephen Mulrine translation and premiered it years ago with Prunella Scales!). I’m pulling the team together for Cinderella and plans are advancing for next spring at the Rose. And in two weeks time I start rehearsals for Richard Strauss’ Intermezzo for Buxton Opera Festival.
And I’m still doggedly reading Dickens: half way through Little Dorrit. What writing!