To celebrate their new UK tour, and the world premiere of David Rudkin’s adaptation of a classic M. R. James ghost story, Impact Arts interviews the Creative Team behind Oh Whistle, And I’ll Come to You.
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming show, Oh Whistle, And I’ll Come to You?
It is a new stage version of one of the UK’s most famous ghost stories by M.R. James, adapted by visionary playwright David Rudkin. It tells the story of a Cambridge professor who, during a remote trip to a seaside Inn, discovers an ancient whistle with an inscription on it warning him not to blow it; a warning he ignores. As soon as the whistle is blown a series of increasingly strange and sinister occurrences start to take place. As an academic he does his best to dispel these as illogical until finally the sinister presence makes a final shocking appearance.
We are premiering the play in 2016, which both marks 80 years since M.R. James died and 80 years since David Rudkin was born! We feel quite certain that the spirits are crossing over into each other here.
Why did you choose to put on this show?
We love the horror genre but there is very little of it in contemporary theatre that works well. Rudkin is a powerful and quite haunted writer and his language really captures the unsettling quality of the original story – although it expands the narrative a great deal, breathing fresh life into it.
The reason we want to tell any existing story is because we believe there is something within that story that still has the power to disturb us today. With James it is that persistent truth that no matter how much we learn or how intelligent we become we will never be able to escape the fear and mystery of the irrational. James was obsessed by this subject, which is why many of his protagonists are arrogant university professors who find themselves face to face with something terrifying and inexplicable.
What do you think makes this ghost story unique?
What’s most striking about the story is that it leaves things open, in a way that can really stay with you. Most ghost stories are about a person who died and once you solve the mystery of that the fear goes away with it. With this story, the frightening presence doesn’t tell you where it is from or what it wants. It simply appears and we have to try and make sense of it. It leaves us and the character with the unnerving feeling, that whatever it was we saw might appear again at any moment in our lives.
Why should a Nottinghamshire audience come and watch your show?
Because who doesn’t like a good scare?
We make our work in Nottingham, [and] are inspired by the land and the people. And as the main touring theatre company in the East Midlands region, what we put onstage for you (in terms of performance, direction, writing and design) is at the highest national and international level. That’s our offer: to give people in our region small scale affordable theatre that feels big, bold and brilliant.
Sum up Oh Whistle, And I’ll Come to You in three words!
After the success of Darkness, Darkness, New Perspectives’ collaboration with the Nottingham Playhouse, do you have any upcoming productions that you’re working on?
All our shows are radically different from one another, At New Perspectives there is no norm and we are energised by that.
Next up is a children’s musical called The Giant Jam Sandwich which will tour in Spring 2017. Then we head to Edinburgh with some exciting new shows made by East Midlands writers and artists. In Autumn 2017 we are doing the regional premiere of Richard Bean’s epic rural black comedy Harvest.
We’ll be doing a lot more than that too – always different, always surprising – so please check our website or follow us on twitter to keep up to speed.
Image courtesy of New Perspectives
‘Oh Whistle And I’ll Come To You’ is opening at The Bonington Theatre, Arnold, Nottingham, on Friday 11 November before Press Night at the Highbank Community Centre on Sat 12 Nov, and at the Thomas Cranmer Centre, Aslockton on 9 December. For more information see here.
Follow the theatre troupe: www.newperspectives.co.uk @nptheatre