One of Australia’s top theatre companies will make it to Edinburgh this year with award-winning reimaginging of brutally funny and profound short story by Nobel Prize winner Patrick White. Featuring live music from the Zephyr Quartet and spectacular lighting design by Tony Award winner Nigel Levings, it sounds intriguing.
Chris Drummond, Artistic Director of Brink, spoke with The Fountain about what we are likely to expect from The Aspirations of Daise Morrow, and what inspired him to work with Patrick White’s work.
TF: You’re directing Patrick White’s short story as a theatre performance at the Fringe, how exciting?
It’s so exciting! We’re bringing this uniquely Australian voice, Patrick White – one of the great writers of the 20th century – to Edinburgh and transforming the Spiegeltent into a sunburnt landscape. The story is set on the day of the funeral of the ‘scandalous’ Daisy Morrow and the show, more or less in the round, moves in and around the audience. We immerse the audience in an Australian dream with four brilliant actors taking on all the roles… it’s brutally funny, heartbreaking in its understanding and empathy for human nature, and filled with magic and wonder.
TF: It all sounds very exciting with the live music, what are we likely to expect?
We’re touring with the incredible Zephyr Quartet. They sit in amongst the audience so you might find yourself next to a cellist or violinist. The music is so beautiful, and it’s more than just underscoring. It works almost cinematically, changing the mood and the tone and creating the scenery. It’s a really potent presence in the show.
TF: And is this the first of your works to be at the Fringe, or have you directed work in Edinburgh before?
No, this is our first time in Edinburgh. It’s long overdue. Brink’s work has been presented by most major theatres and festivals in Australia so we’ve been making work for a long time, but never brought it to Edinburgh until now. We can’t wait!
TF: What was it about Patrick White’s short story inspired you to direct this play about the complexities of small communities?
This is a word-for-word adaptation of the text. It’s simply extraordinary language and brilliant storytelling. The way Patrick White plays with time, moving back and forth through memory and the present just felt so incredibly theatrical. The staging brings the audience right up close to four virtuosic actors transforming themselves again and again. It’s a really thrilling and moving experience to be inside the world of this story and this show. And don’t worry – there’s no audience participation!
TF: And are you working on any other productions just now, or is your sole focus on The Aspirations of Daise Morrow?
We have a show called MEMORIAL premiering at the Barbican in September. It’s BIG! An adaptation of Alice Oswald’s poem of the same name (itself an adaptation of the Iliad), MEMORIAL strips away the Iliad’s gods and heroes leaving only the men and women destroyed by war. There are 215 soldiers named in MEMORIAL and what we do is populate the stage with a man, woman or child for each one. A lone actress speaks the text – Australia’s acclaimed Helen Morse – over an original live score by BAFTA-winning composer Jocelyn Pook performed by an amazing ensemble of ten musicians. It premiered at this year’s Adelaide Festival to huge acclaim and we’re really excited to be taking it to London with an all-local chorus.
Assembly Gardens Spiegeltent (George Square), 2-12 August, 3pm