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The arts In Bristol this month . . .


A sense of yearning


Bristol Old Vic’s Associate Director SIMON GODWIN tells us about his experience directing Krapp’s Last Tape and A Kind of Alaska. Rehearsal pics by Mark Douet


Clifton Life: What impact have Pinter and Beckett had on modern theatre? Simon Godwin: They’re such major influences, that we are all affected by them, I believe, whether consciously or not. They have shaped the culture of theatre and the plays that we see – especially new plays – you really feel their influence. With Pinter, it’s concerned with his


compression of language and the art of silence, which contains the unspoken. With Beckett, it’s a modernism of sorts, which reverses the traditional notion of success, and replaces it with a fascination with failure. In doing that, he liberates you into pondering different kinds of characters and different stories, so what is traditionally boring is made interesting and what is traditionally interesting, leaves us wondering whether we are in fact as interested as we once we thought we were.


CL: Both also possess an unwavering attention to detail in their writing. Does that hinder you as a director? SG: The more detailed, the more quirky, the more wrinkled the writing is, the better for me. Human beings are filled with texture and the marks of experience and it’s through the details of people’s behaviour that we discover who they are. Pinter and Beckett shared a curiosity


about the details that together, define who we are.


32 Clifton Life www.mediaclash.co.uk


CL: What came first for you, the authors, the plays or the urge to a double bill? SG: When I did [BoV’s 2010 production of] Faith Healer, flushed with its Irishness and Celtic storytelling, it was a real discovery for me. I’d never done theatre like that before. The playwright Brian Friel set up the pathway towards Pinter and Beckett. I was curious about both, and was curious about doing something close up and in miniature that would sit well in Bristol Old Vic’s Studio space. But it was BoV’s Artistic Director Tom


Morris who first mentioned A Kind of Alaska to me after I’d mentioned I was thinking about doing Beckett, describing it as a very charged play about memory and time. So when I went back to Beckett and Krapp’s Last Tape, it had gained a new significance, especially now I was beginning to contemplate the plays as a pair. I think, and hope, that one will elevate the other.


So – who said Pinter wasn’t funny?


Simon’s the one with the beard . . .


CL: How would you describe the general tone of the evening? SG: I hope the audience will feel a yearning. I hope they’ll feel a sense of search. Our two main characters [Krapp and Deborah] are actively looking for something, so I hope the experience will also be an activating one. It’s a mistake to think the evening will be in any way nostalgic. Both characters are involved in a vivid journey to try and understand themselves through examining their past. I hope therefore that people will feel a sense of relevance and a shared project, a kind of tenderness towards their own lives because that’s what the characters themselves are feeling. CL


A Kind of Alaska/Krapp’s Last Tape (a double bill) are at Bristol Old Vic from 5 April – 12 May. To book tickets, Call 0117 987 7877 or see www.bristololdvic.org.uk


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