Sunday, 5 July 2015

JEKYLL AND HYDE in a brand new adaptation by Jo Clifford comes to Carriageworks Theatre

I welcome you, Edward Hyde. Welcome you with all my heart.
For you are myself. And we can take our place in this evil world.

A new adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde will play at Carriageworks Theatre on Monday 16 February as part of the venue’s February Half-term family events. Set in an alternative London of the future that is consumed by the quest for immortality, Dr. Henry Jekyll is a high-profile cancer specialist, determined to find a cure for mankind’s greatest medical challenge. In his obsession to be the doctor that makes this historic breakthrough, Jekyll’s radical research results in the creation of an unintentional strain of drug which entirely alters the patient’s personality.

Making himself the subject of his own experiments, Jekyll steps into the unknown and unleashes his inner demons. Trapped in a corporate world, Dr. Jekyll must choose to keep hold of his own identity as he revels in the freedom and chaos of his hideous alter ego: Mr Hyde. But, is the choice still in his hands?

Robert Louis Stevenson’s cult classic is reinterpreted in this modern adaptation, set in a steampunk dystopian world where the questionable actions of leaders are no longer held to account, whilst the personal freedoms of the common citizen are disregarded. Avivid depiction of a regressive future, this bold new adaptation is written by Jo Clifford and presented by multi award-winning touring company Sell A Door.

Jo Clifford has close to 80 dramatic works to her name, and is perhaps best known for her adaptation of Great Expectations, which was first presented in 1988 featuring Alan Cumming as Pip, and was recently revived in a new production at the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre. Jo is currently under commission to the National Theatre of Scotland.
Jo Clifford said today: "I love Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It’s such a brilliant piece of writing. It’s given me so much pleasure to adapt the story for Sell A Door; and I hope my play gives audiences huge pleasure, as well as plenty to think about…”.

Monday 16 February
Main Auditorium: 7:30pm
Tickets: £12.50 (£10.50 concession)
Age 11+

Tickets for all Carriageworks Theatre productions can be booked on 0113 224 3801, online through our website or in person at the Carriageworks Theatre Box Office, Millennium Square, Leeds, LS2 3AD.

The Carriageworks Theatre is a modern venue located on Millennium Square programming a wide variety of theatre and comedy for the whole family. We are also the proud home of the Leeds Civic Arts Guild, the Carriageworks Theatre Academy for young people and various classes open to the Leeds community.

Interview with Writer (Jo Clifford)

Tell us a bit about the history of your writing career to date…
I knew I was going to be a writer when I was about 13. It seemed like a silly thing to want to be and I didn’t think I’d ever make it.
My real vocation was for the theatre, and I discovered that at about the same time, when I was asked to play the girl’s parts in school plays (I was at an all-male school).
I loved acting and felt really at home on stage and in the rehearsal room.
Unfortunately that was also how I discovered I’d really be happier living as a girl, and I was so frightened and ashamed of that. Theatre itself became a place of terror and shame for me; I started out trying hard to be a novelist; and it took me twenty years to find my voice in the theatre.
Then I discovered how badly paid playwriting was! The only way to earn a half decent living for my family was to learn to write fast. So I did. I’m the author of about 80 performed plays now. I really must count them again some day…
Since I started living as a woman a few years ago I’ve also rediscovered the joy of acting and of performing. Which is wonderful. It’s opening up a whole new life for me…

Describe a typical day for you…
I don’t have a typical day. That’s the main thing I love about my work!
I always meditate morning and evening. That’s one constant.
And then… it depends. Every day I need to write something, or I feel the day is wasted.
So like today I usually try to keep the morning free for writing. Yesterday: I meditated, baked some bread, printed out the script, read it ready for a script meeting with David [Hutchinson, Artistic Director] at lunchtime.
Then I had a meeting with the director of my last play, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN, which I am trying to revive next year. Then we both went off to meet a film crew who are making a documentary about my work. They wanted to film a rehearsal. Tomorrow another film crew are coming to film a bit for SONGS OF PRAISE (I actually find this quite hard to believe!). So we rehearsed that. And then we all had supper together. And then I went off to bed!

What is it about the story of Jekyll & Hyde that made you want to
adapt it?
To be honest the fact that Sell A Door wanted to commission me to do it! But working on it has made me fall in love with the book again. [Robert Louis] Stevenson writes so beautifully, and with such insight. Like me, he was quite strictly brought up, and taught to repress the bits of himself that were not approved of.
So, for instance, I tried to repress the feminine side of myself. And for a bit I actually did feel a bit split in two, between my masculine self and my feminine one.
It never works - my femininity just became stronger and stronger the more I tried to repress it.
It’s a bit uncanny to find the same thing happening to Dr. Jekyll in this story: trying to detach himself from his shadow side just makes everything worse.
Somehow, I think, we have to learn to integrate our whole selves, the light and the shadow… [Carl] Jung was saying something like that in the early part of the 20th century; but Stevenson, writing in the 19th, got there first….

What do you think audiences will take away from the show?
That’s up to them. I do hope they get huge pleasure out of seeing it, though…

What would you say to anyone who wants to get into writing?
Only do it if you absolutely must. And then, if you must, keep at it.
Remember you have something to say, and only you can say it.
Don’t let yourself be silenced and never give up…

What is it about the genre of adaptation that you find interesting?
Becoming all the different characters and transforming a beautiful work of art into something that is true to it but also absolutely my own…

What is your favorite Gothic Novel?
Generally I don’t read them. Life is scary enough as it is without reading books to scare me more…

Do you sympathise with the character of Mr. Hyde?
Oh yes. People didn’t like me much at school and that always hurt and distressed me.
And nobody likes Hyde. I feel sorry for him.
And he’s terrified of dying. The older I get, the more I understand that…

Where do you see yourself in 2020?
I don’t really know what I’ll be doing in 2015, never mind 2020!
My life is very unpredictable!
But if I’m able to still be writing and performing and being creative, I’ll be very happy.

What is the most challenging aspect of adapting such a well-known text?
Overcoming being scared by how good it is!

Do you have a favorite line from the text?
It’s all beautiful! Opening it at random:
“I sat in the sun on a bench; the animal within licking the chops of memory…”
How amazing is that!

What inspires you to take on new projects?
The constant insatiable urge to create.

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