Lucrece is abused by Tarquin, the King’s son. She chooses to tell her story and demand justice and revenge rather than remain silent. Her courage leads to the overthrow of the monarchy and the founding of the Roman republic. Following a critically acclaimed co-production with the National Centre for the Performing Arts Mumbai, The Shakespeare Edit brings its pared-down adaptation of Shakespeare’s epic poem to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Paul Goodwin, Artistic Director for The Shakespeare Edit spoke with The Fountain about the show, and their plans for August.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
Yes it is exciting. I have been several times as an audience member, twice as an actor – but this is the first time that I am producing and directing a show and it feels a little overwhelming at times. We are in Edinburgh for a limited run 12-24 August, so not going into the rehearsal room until July 18th – that’s what I am most looking forward to.
TF: The Shakespeare Edit certainly sounds interesting, what is the premise?
The premise is a simple one, it’s Shakespeare that is pared down but not dumbed down; distilled but not diluted. So we will not be producing three hour versions of Shakespeare with big sets and grand costumes – Lucrece runs for 50 mins. What underpins the premise is my personal experience: I was born in Glasgow where my grandfather delivered coal, carrying the sacks on his back. My father was a boy soldier in the Scots Guards. They weren’t educated but for some reason there was a complete works of Shakespeare in a bookcase. I read it – it educated and transported me. It is that knowledge, that Shakespeare is for everyone and can transform and provide social mobility that underpins the drive of the company. I want to attract new audiences, as well as those familiar with his work.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
I wanted to launch The Shakespeare Edit with a piece that was a bit different. Of course there have been other adaptations of Lucrece but it isn’t A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It started as a language project, and then came Weinstein and #MeToo and the project became even more relevant, dealing as it does with someone in power abusing their position to rape. Shakespeare wrote Lucrece in 1594 when London theatres were closed due to plague. He had all of his great tragedies ahead of him, and what I see in this narrative poem is the nursery for all of those great psychological dramas. That’s what I wanted to bring out by dramatizing/editing it. I also wanted to reveal an extraordinary part for an actress – one with a difficult and nuanced psychological journey at the centre of a play.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
My plan for the Fringe is to create a piece of work with the actors that serves the writer and has integrity. It is the only thing that will sustain the inevitable ups and downs of performing at an enormous festival.
I hesitate to give tips to others, but what I would say to myself is:
Focus on the work – you can make it better each day.
Don’t panic about the money its costing.
See lots of stuff – particularly support your friends.
Try and enjoy yourself.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond The Shakespeare Edit?
I have no plans other than to create more work with and for The Shakespeare Edit. After 20+ years as an actor, and eight years as Course Director of MA Acting at Drama Centre/CSM I have formed a theatre company that will allow me to make Shakespeare for International stages, and to continue to teach acting through/with Shakespeare for students and professional actors at home and abroad. Since the company was formed two years ago, I have worked in Russia, India and Italy as well as in the UK.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of the foremost trade fairs for theatre nationally and internationally. I am hoping that those industry professionals will come and see Lucrece and that relationships can be developed that will help us to create more work.
You can see Lucrece at TheSpace @ Niddry St from 12th – 24th August (Not 18th) at 12:15. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com