“It’s rare to find work that talks so directly about the only really important questions that face us as human beings…”

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Next week, Actors’ Touring Company presents Sarah Kane’s Crave alongside the UK premiere of Ivan Viripaev’s Illusions. We caught up with the director of both shows, Ramin Gray.

Pics: Nina Sologubenko

 

What made you decided to show Crave and Illusions alongside each other?

They are two plays about love, death and how to live. It’s rare to find work that talks so directly about the only really important questions that face us as human beings and which it’s often more convenient for us to shelve. Putting two apparently unrelated works side by side is always an illuminating experience as a conversation starts to develop between people who never knew each other – Sarah Kane and Ivan Viripaev – who were born in very different circumstances – Essex and Siberia – and yet who both have a driving, questing will to plumb the mysterious depths of what it is to be human in the face of an apparently meaningless universe. The plays share many similarities of theme and some overlapping formal challenges, for example, where and how does the actor situate themselves in these texts? It will be a challenging evening but I know that it’s only when I’ve really invested in anything that I’ve got anything out of it. I hope and trust that audiences in Bristol – where Sarah did her degree – will be curious enough to come and join in.

 

Have you staged Sarah Kane before – what are the challenges with putting on her work?

Sarah made huge waves even when she was at Bristol University and she spent her brief career tearing up the rule book, discarding form after form. Crave holds a special place in my heart for its humanity, poetry and challenge to me as a director. How do you advance when the writer has taken away the familiar crutches of narrative and character? Or rather when she has reformed and reappraised them for her own ends. We had an exhilarating journey of discovery with this play and both the actors and I feel there is a sincere and naked attempt on her part to communicate some of the difficulty of being alive and we’ve all been enriched by that.

 

Ivan Viripaev will be unfamiliar to many people – what makes him a playwright that people should see?

In Moscow, where Ivan now mainly lives and works, he is something of a legend, a spiritual, slightly possessed personality who creates work of great integrity and intensity. Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, stated that Ivan Viripaev is the only contemporary playwright worth paying any attention to. I find it astonishing that the words of a churchman have any validity with the trendy crowd of young Muscovites who crowd out Viripaev’s shows but also that what the churchman has labelled is what is rarely spoken of here; that is the profound link between what we attempt to create through theatre and the role that the church should fulfil in society: to channel the life of the spirit. That’s what we are trying to achieve anyway…

 

ILLUSIONS PREMIERS AT THE WICKHAM THEATRE ON TUE 24 APRIL AND TICKETS ARE JUST £5 FOR THIS NIGHT ONLY.

CRAVE AND ILLUSIONS ARE PERFORMED IN REP THEREAFTER AT THE WICKHAM THEATRE, UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL FROM 25–28 APRIL.

TICKETS AVAILABLE ON 0117 987 7877 OR VIA BRISTOLOLDVIC.ORG.UK

 

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