American Epics<< Back to Productions Overview

American fiction has less of a problem with including ordinary lives in the epic story. In the grand traditions of Europe, the Greek aristocratic ethos had dominated drama: comedy for the ordinary characters, nobility for the top dogs. While Moby Dick maybe over loaded with Ahab's obsession, there is a counter argument acted out by the crazy
black cabin boy, Pip, whose mind has been shattered by the
experience of whale hunting. We are also shown the lives of
the entire Pequod. The lives of ordinary sailors who are
trapped in the infernal machine of their leaders blood lust.
We learn how they survive and how they approach their
deaths. They are all as heroic and as absurd as Ahab.

John Steinbeck placed
the victims of economic
depression within the
context of the American
Dream. Arthur Miller explores
the cultural ghosts that rise to
the surface of the New World,
world through ordinary lives.
The lives of Salesmen and
Dockers in Miller. The lives of
agricultural workers in Steinbeck.

Tony Kushner's Aids epic reaches far wider than the label of a gay play because sexuality is placed at the heart of the debate of justice in America. The ill health and bad luck of ordinary Americans put the very ideas that forged America on trial. In Angels in America the loves and betrayals of the characters and the mean terminal life experienced in a hospital is measured against the big idea of America.

For me it's very important that the audience is engaged and touched by a piece of live storytelling and not left with a feeling that theatre is only made for "theatre people". I think American literature often finds a natural path that includes reality and poetry and that the stories are capable of including ordinary lives within the context of world movements.

 
1984
1985
Of Future Mice Men and Women by John Steinbeck.
Set in a traverse arrangement the production brought the action close to the audience and blended naturalism with direct adress story telling. There was a live music band with soul and country singers.
English National Tour.

Flyer for 'Of Mice and Men'

Flyer for 'View from a bridge'

Flyer for 'Moby Dick'

Scene from 'Angels in America'

 
1990
1992
1993
1994
A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller.
The setting suggested a dockland and a Sicilian village as well as the domestic settings. A saxophone played fifties "be bop" and Sicilian folk, and blew like a ships horn. Continual national touring, London, Manchester and Liverpool. Nominated for best Production at Liverpool Arts awards. Nominated Best Production for Manchester Evening News Awards. National Tour for two years.
 
2000
2002
Moby Dick adapted by Jim Burke for Walk The Plank
Performed on the Fitzcaraldo Britain's only touring theatre ship. Set in the Skeleton of a whale using video and animation and soundtrack.
Winner of Best Fringe Production Manchester Evening News Awards.
 
2001 Moby Dick German production translated by Anna Siegrot.
Re-designed to be set on the wreck of the Pequod at the bottom of the ea. Three Story telling actors and a percussionist. This piece concentrated on the power of the hunt over ordinary lives.
Städtische Bühnen Münster
 
2002 Angels in America by Tony Kushner.
Angels breaks many preconceptions of what is and is not possible in the theatre. It is unfashionably long, extremeley generous and plays with every form of story telling.
Unity Theatre Liverpool
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