Off to Clapham Picture House to have a meeting with Chuk Iwuji, who we're hoping will take part in The Robben Island reading the Purcell Room on the 3rd July.
Chuk has an impressive Shakespearean CV. He played Henry VI for the RSC a few years back and was Buckingham to Kevin Spacey's Richard III at The Old Vic last year. It'd be a real bonus to have him in board. We showed him the script and Matt talked in broad terms about the project, whilst I focused on the cuts and the new shape that we've brought to the material.
Chuk was full of questions, but seemed very taken with the way in which Shakespeare provides a subtext and resonance for the stories of the prisoners on the island in the seventies. In a way the play tells the story twice. Once as a verbatim documentary and then again by borrowing the Shakespearean passages chosen by the men.
We talked in general terms about accents, sense of place, sense of character and the difference between a Shakespearean actor tackling the text and a group of political leaders being led by the words themselves.
For my money I think it important we don't 'act' the men acting Shakespeare, but rather use the experience and technical skills of the cast to allow the texts to speak. I think we can rely on the audience to use the description of the men's struggle to provide a context and bring new understanding and readings to these often familiar passages.
The text is still one draft away from being finalised and this will only happen once we've got all three actors confirmed. Chuk went away to have a proper read and will let us know in a couple of days.
A rare sunny afternoon so a proper cycle home up to Putney and then all the way along the river to Ham.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.