“The Play of Adam”, trans Carol Symes (Kenneth Pickering)

Wonderful to see and hear a new generation discovering the sheer vitality of Medieval Drama at a reading of ‘The Play of Adam’ at the Paper Stage! I’ve directed various Adam and Eves in Cathedrals throughout the UK (including a superb performance by my Drama Dept colleague, Jayne in Canterbury) but this version was new to me. Two complementary events in one week: the reading and a conference to celebrate the 50 anniversary of the publication of Jan Kott’s ‘Shakespeare our Contemporary’ and how contemporary ‘The Play of Adam’ actually is! Corruption and power, evil and knowledge: the lethal mix of our lives! The play needs to flow out of a building and either surround or physically come near to the audience. Characters and music must emerge from the shadows or surrounding space and the flicker of hell fire must never be too far away. Even the exposition of the prophets (massive cuts essential) can still be highly dramatic: the Christian symbols embedded in the dialogue must emerge from that rich language and voices can come from all over the place. But it must all be contemporary in its use of movement and humour and, possibly, costume? The acting needs to be simple and strong: the important thing is not to react but to listen and then react. The freshness and vitality of this translation demands that it is handled with sensitivity and fluid movement.

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