Monday, 23 October 2017

Lampedusa Dramaturgy: Jack Nurse @ Citizens, Glasgow

LAMPEDUSA
CITIZENS THEATRE

8 November - 18 November 2017

Telling the stories of human kindness behind the headlines, Lampedusa was a sell-out during its premiere run at Soho Theatre in London in 2015.

The Italian island of Lampedusa
lies in the Mediterranean between Sicily, Tunisa and Libya. Once, fisherman Stefano made a living here.

Now, he uses his fishing boat to collect the bodies of drowned migrants from the sea. In the UK, Chinese-British student Denise is forced to go door to door for a payday loan company to finance her degree, meeting grinding poverty and racist prejudices as well as small acts of charity.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The migrant crisis has been in the headlines for years now but is still nowhere near a resolved issue, for a myriad of reasons. When something has been in the news for a long time, it’s easy to become desensitized or passive but this is the biggest mass migration since World War Two and the issue is not going away. 

There’s a need to continue to talk about the crisis. A theatre show is one, small way of doing this.

Another inspiration was reading Anders Lustgarten’s work. His writing combines acute social and political critique with interesting theatre and this creates a thought provoking and often challenging piece of work. To direct one of his plays is a real privilege.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Yes. Theatre and performance can interrogate ideas like no other medium. The very nature of the art form – performer speaks, an audience listens – creates an exchange of ideas, a dialogue. It’s our job as theatre-makers to make sure the ideas are worth interpreting and thinking about. 

We have a post-show discussion on the 10th November for Lampedusa, but every other night the audience needs to leave with a sense of being informed and challenged.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I studied Contemporary Performance Practice at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Whilst there, I started Wonder Fools with Robbie Gordon. I wanted to apply the skills I was learning in contemporary performance to the creation of contemporary theatre, and we started experimenting with different forms. 

This culminated most recently with the presentation of our play, The Coolidge Effect, at the Traverse Theatre, Tron Theatre and Macrobert Arts Centre.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

Lampedusa explores the migrant crisis
through two intersecting monologues and the focus of the play is very much these two characters’ stories.  Stefano is an Italian fisherman, whose heritage and family trade is fishing. 

Unemployed for three years, and in order to support his wife and two young children, Stefano now earns his living at sea by picking out bodies from the sea of the people who have not survived the journey from Libya to Lampedusa, an Italian island which is the gateway to Europe for many North African refugees. 

The second story follows Denise, a mixed-race Chinese/British woman from Leeds who works for a payday loan company in order to pay for her university degree and through her narrative we explore poverty, racial prejudices and misperceptions. To impose a grand concept on the play would detract from the power and poetry of Anders Lustgarten’s writing. 

Other than the focus on text, I will be working with the composer Stuart Ramage to create a livescore to accompany the piece – an atmospheric, haunting mix of guitar harmonics. Also, Anders has been in rehearsals for the early part of the process and we are working to bring the 2015 text into the present. That has meant looking at statistics and news stories to highlight what is happening in 2017. 

An unfortunate and saddening truth emerging from rehearsals is that not a lot has changed since the play first premiered.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

It is a Citizens Theatre production in association with Wonder Fools. For the Citz, Alisa Kalyanova (designer), Benny Goodman (lighting designer) and I are hoping to continue its tradition of striking, bold designs by filling the Circle Studio with sand. 

Following on from The Macbeths, we hope to utilise the focused intensity of the Studio that that show did so well. As Wonder Fools, this is the first time we will be using an existing text by another writer. This is both exciting and liberating. Anders has written something dramatically powerful with a biting social commentary that is very much in line with what we hope to produce as Wonder Fools.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?


I hope they feel invested and engaged for an hour in Stefano and Denise’s stories. I hope they leave the performance emotionally connected to the narratives and angry about the status quo that is at the foundation of all the social and political problems the play pokes at. 

CREATIVE TEAM

Writer
Anders Lustgarten

Performers

Andy Clark and Louise Mai Newberry

Director
Jack Nurse

Designer

Alisa Kalyanova

Lighting Designer

Benny Goodman

Associate Director
Robbie Gordon

Assistant Director


Tess Munro

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