Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Fever at Sloans

The Fever might have been written by one of the voice from Toy Story, but it isn't aimed at children. A two hour monologue, to be performed in Sloan's Bar (just round the corner from that street full of jewellers), it snaps at lazy western assumptions about poverty. A woman is stuck in a flea-pit, far from home and forced to reconsider just how compassionate liberal guilt can be. 

The Fever: 
written by Wallace Shawn is (Rex the nervous dinosaur in Toy Story)
directed by: James Robert Carson (credits include Greek National Opera, Scottish Opera, Glyndebourne Opera and The Royal Lyceum)
performed by:  Paola Dionisotti, (RSC and the National Theatre)
performed at:  Sloans on Monday 24 September at 7.30pm
performed for: Amnesty International Benefit
interview with: James Robert Carson
picture of: Paola Dionisotti
What attracted you to The Fever?

I was approached by Paola Dionisotti to work on the piece with her. I have an enormous respect for her talent and was very flattered to be asked to be part of the project. I read it and was fascinated by the quality of the writing and the challenges it presents for an audience. So far, we have presented  it in a private house in London and in the Oxfam Bookshop in Stratford Upon Avon.

The script seems to take a more complex response to the problems of acting against inequalities than usual: how does this fit with being staged as a benefit for Amnesty International?

The piece tells the story of a liberal western woman who becomes intrigued by radical political ideas. As a consequence she travels to poor countries and makes connections  that question her sense of self and how she relates to the world. It deals with many of the issues and dilemmas that organisations such as Amnesty deal with on a daily basis. The protagonists main fascination is with the notion that we can only be rich and liberal because most people in the world live in poverty.

What are the particular demands of directing a monologue as opposed to some of the bigger events you have done in the past?

Directing a monologue demands a very intimate relationship with the performer and the text. The power of the event is completely focused on the actor's ability to deal with the challenges that the writing presents.

I am quite a fan of theatre that encourages debate - is The Fever a good example of this sort of work?

The Fever asks an audience to look at their own ideas and assumptions and to consider some of the more troubling aspects of human existence. These ideas are given a very immediate and engaging incarnation in the person of the woman who is undergoing a physical, spiritual and intellectual breakdown. We are asked to have compassion for her situation, we are asked to feel as well as to think.

What made you bring the piece to Sloans? 
The play is written for very small audiences demands an intimate atmosphere. Sloans has public rooms that are very suitable for such a presentation and the manager Amy Rodger is very open to new things happening at the pub.”

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