Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The English Touring Style

At the risk of jumping on a boat that has already left the harbour, or white-knighting for a director who, frankly, has a far larger platform than mine, I have been moved to consider the matter of Emma Rice. Theatre enthusiasts will know that Rice recently left the Globe, stating that, despite her love for the venue, audience and company, the board 'did not love her back'. In the flurry of commentary that followed, much was made of Rice's approach to Shakespeare. 

The Spectator, which can usually be relied upon for a conservative and traditionalist opinion, accused her of using Shakespeare's scripts to pursue her own obsessions, adding in contemporary language and references. Regardless of the Globe's aesthetic - set up as a place for 'authentic Shakespeare', without all this modern interpretation, apparently - the treatment of Rice is unpleasant and suggests that the board of the theatre didn't pay much attention to Rice's particular aesthetic. Her work at Cornwall's Kneehigh theatre established her eclectic dramaturgy: Tristan and Ysault, currently touring, is both a splendid example of her approach and one of the most important British productions of the twenty-first century.

Even considering that important does not necessarily mean good, the board ought to have been familiar with her iconoclastic attitude.

Tristan and Ysault
In 2003, Emma Rice adapted Wagner's very long and very important opera for Kneehigh. 

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