Ibrahim goes behind the scenes of Edward II to chat with the cast and producers about NNT’s final in-house production for the autumn term.
With me sat the show’s directors (Ellen Schaffert and G Brooke) and producers (Sam André-Paul and Abi Platt). I was also joined by Barney Hartwill (Edward II), Kiara Hohn (Young Spenser) and Jacob Gausden (Elder Spenser/Elder Mortimer).
The crew gave me an insight into the task of bringing Marlowe’s beloved play to the stage in a neon-lit 80’s setting.
Ibrahim: Why did you choose to adapt ‘Edward II’?
Ellen: Because it’s great and underrated. We had to edit a lot of it out because a lot of it is just nonsense-
G: About a third.
Ellen: -but if you get to the core of it, it’s still so relevant. And I think it holds up really well.
“the language is beautiful and poetic and that really comes out in performance“
I: How have rehearsals been going?
E: They’ve been going great. The only problem is everyone is too funny and has too much chemistry so sometimes they take too long.
Jacob: What ever do you mean by that?
G: It’s been really fun. It’s gone smoothly in a really lovely way. Everyone’s so nice and I love our cast. I think they’re brilliant.
Sam: We’ve rehearsed maybe seven times a week for the last six weeks.
I: Do you have any funny rehearsal stories?
E: Oh my God. There’s so much sexual tension between everyone.
J: I like to take light hearted approaches to many things in life – as many as my cast and crew members will know. Whatever format it takes, whether it’s sexual tension between characters when there should be none whatsoever. I mean, we all know each other fairly well. Me and Jack Linley-
S: I need to stress; they are uncle and nephew-
Everyone laughs. Well, this took a strange turn.
S: -and Jacob will walk into a scene and, well, the readers at home won’t be able to see this. But he does this-
He proceeds to caress Barney’s face.
S: -and he’ll be groaning ‘nephew’, and Jack will groan ‘uncle’.
E: I’m trying to drill it out of them so badly, because the characters are related.
G: It’s quite distressing. It should be a nice uncle-nephew moment, but it’s just strange.
J: I also keep bursting into different voices during rehearsal.
Barney: It’s really distracting!
(There’s no way I can replicate this in an article, but it’s worth mentioning; Jacob Gausden does a pretty amazing impression of Kermit the Frog.)
“Even though it’s a play written in the 1500s about a King in the 1300s, it’s very timeless in its themes.”
I: Do you have a favourite character, and why?
E: My favourite character is Young Spenser. I also really like Kent, because–
E: Sorry! I do like Edward but he’s a bit of an idiot! I like Young Spenser – without spoiling the plot, he brings in a nice level of energy.
G: I love Young Spenser, but throughout the process of bringing this to stage, I think my favourite character has become Edward II-
Barney looks extremely pleased.
G: -I think he’s an interesting and flawed character, and a lot of those dimensions have come through in rehearsals. We’ve gotten to explore that a lot.
S: Mine is definitely – and it wasn’t when I read it through the first time – Edward III. It’s quite a small role, but we’ve added him a little more throughout the play – just little silent bits where he happens to be onstage. He’s the only character, in a play with lots of flawed people, that comes out strong.
Abi: My favourite character might be Gaveston. He’s not as straightforward as other characters. I like the ambiguity.
I: Would you all like to work with each other again?
G: Yes – I have plans. I’ve enjoyed working with this team. We get on really well.
E: It’s been such a blessing to have such a dedicated cast.
S: From a creative standpoint, I’ve learned from the best – The New Theatre’s best producer, Abi.
A: Ah, thanks.
S: I’ve loved the dedication – Ellen and G were holed up in Edinburgh for a while, something like three weeks. They worked on it consistently.
E: We were in so many coffee shops.
G: I spent so much money during that time on coffee. We spent consecutive afternoons just cutting down this play.
I: One last thing – why should people come and watch the show?
E: It’s neon, it’s in the 80’s, it’s really gay, it’s got a lot to say – hooray!
G: I really appreciate that rhyme.
Kiara: Plus the language is beautiful and poetic and that really comes out in performance.
G: Thematically, it’s a dark play, but it’s really meaningful to a lot of people. It reflects a lot of issues at the moment.
E: Even though it’s a play written in the 1500s about a King in the 1300s, it’s very timeless in its themes.
S: This is the most relevant the play has been in a while.
Edward II will be performed at Nottingham New Theatre from Tuesday 10th December at 7:30 pm, Wednesday 11th December at 7:30 pm, Thursday 12th December at 7:30 pm and Friday 13th December at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm. Tickets are available here. Follow the show on Instagram at @edwardiinnt.
Featured image courtesy of Nottingham New Theatre. Permission for use granted by NNT PR department. Article image 1 courtesy of @edwardiinnt via Instagram. Article image 2 courtesy of @edwardiinnt via Instagram. Article image 3 courtesy of Zoe Smith (@zsmith_photographs) for @edwardiinnt via Instagram.
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