Winter Solstice, a German play written by Roland Schimmelpfennig, will run at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh from 21st March until 24th March, directed by Alice Malin, starring David Beames, Kirsty Besterman, Felix Hayes, Gerald Kyd and Marian McLoughlin. Handling political and topical themes, it’s a significant one for the theatre’s programme.
Alice spoke with The Fountain about her decision to choose this play to direct and the joy of working with such a cast.
TF: Winter Solstice sounds like a great premise, what inspired you to direct this German play?
Roland Schimmelpfennig is one of Germany’s pre-eminent playwrights, and this play is a masterful example of his skill as a writer, both in terms of the play’s form and its take on its subject matter. On one level, Winter Solstice is a darkly witty study of a family in crisis and the breakdown of a marriage. On another, it’s a searing political warning-bell about the rise of the far right. Schimmelpfennig handles these subjects in an endlessly formally inventive way, which hopefully makes it as much of an exciting experience to watch as it was to rehearse!
TF: And what is it about today that makes you feel that this is an interesting and relevant issue?
In many ways this play couldn’t feel more timely. Almost every time I pick up the newspaper, I read an article about the rise of the far right, and the ways in which the media of the far right skew people’s perceptions on everything from race to gender to economics. Not only does the play critique the insidious ways in which the far right gains a hold on people, however, it also casts a critical eye on left wing politics. What is it that means the left doesn’t stand up for what it believes in – or stands up too late? But as well as being an incisive piece of political commentary, the play is also a very funny and relatable examination of a family in conflict.
TF: And you have quite a cast there, what influenced those choices?
You’re right, I’m fortunate enough to have worked with an immensely talented bunch on Winter Solstice, which is lucky, because the text is a challenging one. Like a film, it cross-cuts between different times and locations, which makes it an exciting and exhilarating experience for both audience and cast. However, this also means that performing it can sometimes feel, for the actors, like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time! Happily, everyone in the company has risen to the challenge with huge aplomb and it’s been a joy working with them.
TF: It’s kicking off in the Traverse in March, are you going to be touring it around the UK?
The show is actually already on tour – we started back in February at the North Wall in Oxford, and by the time we arrive at the Traverse, we’ll have already been to Plymouth, Bath and Manchester as well, before finishing our travels in Scarborough.
TF: And after Winter Solstice, what is next on the cards for you Alice?
Actors Touring Company is about to take it’s Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh co-production of The Suppliant Women by David Greig to the Hong Kong Arts Festival in March . This new version of the 2,500 year old Greek play by Aeschylus premiered at The Royal Lyceum Theatre in October 2016 and has recently finished a sell out run at the Young Vic in London. I’ll be lucky enough to be travelling to Hong Kong with the company. In the meantime, I have a couple of other projects on the boil, so watch this space!
For more including tickets to Winter Solstice at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, click here.