Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Hilary Bell's 'The Bloody Bride'

I've just returned from Lismore, where 'The Bloody Bride' played to full houses at the Star Court Theatre. For info and video click here.

Eighteen months ago, Julian Louis, NORPA's artistic director, asked me to read Lorca's 'Blood Wedding' with a view to adapting it for regional NSW. It's a sharp, hot, passionate play, repressed desire tangling with unbridled emotion and operatic gesture. It feels to have been written in a white heat. I went to Lismore on a reccy. How would this wild, Latin story transfer to laconic country Australia, particularly the Rainbow Region with its smiling hippies, its peace and plenty? Julian introduced me around. We hung out at the Winsome Hotel. We 'borrowed' Living Books from the municipal library. I'd spent the obligatory months of self-discovery at Byron in the early '90s, and had some stories of my own. I began to get a sense of darker subcurrents that would lend themselves to what is, of course, a universal story. As I started working I found the ideas moving away from the Lorca to the stage where it was no longer the basis for an adaptation, but a departure point for an original play.

There were two things I wanted to retain from  'Blood Wedding': the sexual tension of the love-triangle, and the evolvement from the opening's (relative) naturalism to the heightened, poetic lushness of the final scenes. The title having been established by Julian from the start, I would also need blood, and a bride. With these parameters, and a rough idea of our three characters, six months later we workshopped the play. The process of reciprocal generosity between actors, Julian, dramaturg Janis Balodis, and myself was nothing short of inspiring, and I worked into the night, completing the first draft in a matter of days. The year's interim saw some major changes in the script, but its form had been forged in the same 'white heat' energy so essential to Lorca's play. 

We hope to tour or on-sell Julian's muscular, lyrical production. Stay posted for further developments.

1 comment:

Ben Ellis said...

What an evocative post. Thanks for that, and chookas for the rest of the tour.