‘One morning as Greta Samsa was waking from anxious dreams she discovered that in bed she had changed.’ A female take on Kafka’s Metamorphosis, this one-woman show explores Greta’s navigation of family dynamics, and her transformation into a woman. Written and directed by Sam Chittenden, she spoke with The Fountain about what compelled her to work on this show.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
We are hugely excited to be in Edinburgh as part of the inspiring (and exhausting!) Fringe Festival. We have played at Brighton Fringe for the past four years, so this feels like a natural progression.
TF: Metamorphosis certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
Metamorphosis is a dark reworking of Franz Kafka’s classic from a female perspective.
It sets out to tell the story of Gregor Samsa’s sister Greta. As Greta comes to terms with what has happened to her brother, she has to navigate the shifting dynamics of the family household, a difficult relationship with her parents, and her own painful transformation from child to woman. Along this journey she explores not only physical changes but her own grief, shame and self acceptance. In time, the Prague outside her window will bring its own dark threats.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
I had always wanted to direct a version of Metamorphosis, especially since seeing Steven Berkoff’s version many years ago, but I wasn’t sure how I might create something new. When I saw actor Heather-Rose Andrews (Fannytasticals, Cacophony, One-woman Alien) performing as the Old Woman in a production of Blood Wedding, I realised that her strong physicality would work well in the piece. At that stage I was thinking of her playing Gregor, but as I started to research Kafka’s story and his life, I began to see that there was an alternative, and so Greta’s story came to the fore. My version of Metamorphosis draws not only on the original story, but on the diaries and letters of Kafka and his favourite sister Ottla. It echoes their real-life relationship and the difficult dynamics and tragic fates of Kafka’s own family, exploring themes – such as emotional and physical abuse, and racial prejudice – that are very relevant today. Heather and I devised the physicality together, trying out a range of movements, some of which were too crazy to use even in this surreal piece! We had a lot of fun with it.
TF: Have you been to the Fringe before, is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?
This (along with Sary, which we are also bringing) is my first Edinburgh show, although I have previously attended as a punter and reviewer. I have a long list of shows that I want to see, including Dressed, The Desk and Drawn & Quartered. I am also hoping to catch lots of friends and colleagues in their shows. And Heather is performing in three (!) other shows – Fannytasticals, Subsist, and Imaginary Porno Charades. I hope she’s going to get some rest in between!
TF: And what are your future plans beyond Metamorphosis ?
We have a very exciting offer of an international run for Metamorphosis, but I can’t say where until all the details are finalised.
Other than that, I am currently working with my husband Simon Scardanelli on some more songs for my show Clean, which we are planning to turn into a full musical. I am also finalising my first full length play (a futuristic piece about the nature of memory) and working on a couple of ideas for new fringe shows. I am not very good at focusing….!
You can see Metamorphosis at Sweet Grassmarket from 2nd – 25th August (not 7th, 14th or 21st) at 18:45. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com