So far The Anatomy of Melancholy has been going very well. Coming off stage after the performance the cast were buzzing with excitement about how much better it was to perform in front of real people and not just grumpy old me. The show is so presentational it feeds off its audience tremendously. The second performance included some small but significant tweaks that helped make it a good notch up on the opening night. The only real glitch has been that classic issue of over efficient cleaners confusing set and props for mess.
Archive for the ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’ Category
When people know you are in the latter stages of making a new show they often kindly ask “how’s it going?”. I was taught years ago by a wise person to always say “great!” or “brilliant!” because positivity breeds positivity and that helps you finish the show and flogs tickets. In truth it’s sometimes a bit difficult to tell. I’m quite happy with how The Anatomy of Melancholy is shaping up, but does that mean the audience will be happy? Am I so immersed in the world of Robert Burton that I’ve lost my perspective entirely? In one sense it is my job to keep that outside perspective but only in one sense.
Finally we have a draft of a complete script for The Anatomy of Melancholy. It has taken a long time to assimilate the huge book and select the key elements that cannot be left out, there is always just one more ‘great bit’ fighting to get in. (more…)
When making a new show it is always encouraging to find elements of the show cropping up in the news. Today you may have noticed a story in the UK media about patients suffering from mental illness – including depression – being prescribed visits to the library. This ‘reading cure’ tallies almost perfectly with ideas around The Anatomy of Melancholy, propounded by Dr. Mary Ann Lund. She suggests that Robert Burton wrote his amazing book both as a guide to curing melancholy but as a cure in itself, the act of reading consoles the reader. Hopefully visiting the theatre to see our adaptation of the text will perform much the same role.
At the end of November we held a mini conference entitled The Anatomy of Melancholy: A Users Guide at Warwick Arts Centre as part of the process for our staging of this huge 17th century book which details all then known causes, symptoms and cures for all kinds of melancholy.
Talks from the conference are now available as a podcast via Itunes HERE
Dr. Erin Sullivan ‘Burton’s Melancholic Contexts: Medicine, Religion, Politics, Literature’
Dr. Mary Ann Lund ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy: A Self-Help book?’
Prof. Bernard Capp ‘Melancholy, tears and gender in early modern England’
Prof. Mark Knights ‘Utopias’
Lee Hassal ‘An Exorcism and Cartography of The Monstrous and Melancholic’
Rev. Wendy Brown ‘Melancholy and the Church’
Dr. Sarah Marks ‘Burton and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’
More details about the show which premieres in March next year can be found HERE
In our first four weeks of rehearsal we have roughly got to grips with what we imagine to be half the show but only a third of the book. My challenge before we reconvene is to prepare a draft script condensing the remaining two thirds of book into half a show. (more…)
What luxury: Warwick Arts Centre, clever people talking clearly and eloquently on specialist topics all of which you are interested in. After two weeks of self-taught Burton studies, today we contrived to be locked in a room with learned people sharing their thoughts and answering questions.
Two weeks into making the new show and thus far it has been mostly scholastic work, team editing a 1500 page book down to something coherent, performable and with a running time of less then a week – preferably two hours. This study has been broken by talks sketching out approaches to stage, costume and sound design. We have tried not to be too distracted by the fact we have committed to presenting something of what we are up to at our mini-conference on Monday. We don’t really believe in ‘work in progress’ showings, but as a load of speakers are delivering totalising at the even it would be a bit rude not to offer anything in return. We have about 15 min of script in hand very roughly blocked barely rehearsed material humbly to offer up.
Today we started proper work making The Anatomy of Melancholy. As ever the first challenge is to try and establish what methodology to use, we either have to choose an existing strategy or invent a means to invent. This is the first book we have ever adapted for the stage, but it is an unusual book – telling ‘the story’ isn’t going to help as there is no story. So far we’re coming to terms with the book’s structure by mapping out Partitions, Sections, Members and Sub-Sections on the wall. Well, it’s a start!
One of the excellent consequences of having BE Festival on site is the interesting people you meet. Last night I had an extended conversation with a neurobiologist. We discussed the potential for the arts to speak about science, we discussed some practical things we could do together see if we can encourage a strand of work in this field on a local level. I also pitched him the notion of our forthcoming show The Anatomy of Melancholy