Back in Play is a festival at Sherman Theatre headlined by four Radical Reinventions – an irreverent, attitude filled and bold take on a classic text, each 30 minutes long. We spoke to Hannah McPake about her play Tilting at Windmills
There are four 30 minute Radical Reinvention plays as part of Sherman Theatre’s Back In Play festival, each reworking a classic text – which text are you reworking and why?
I am basing my Radical Reinvention on the novel – The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha. I chose this because it’s the first modern novel. The biggest and best. The one that inspired everything that came afterwards – without this book there would be no Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, no Moby Dick, Madam Bovary, Great Gatsby – it’s been adapted many many times, from ballets to operas, blockbuster movies to paintings and sketch shows. It’s famously tricky to adapt. And there is something about attempting the impossible, dreaming the impossible dream, having a go even if we fail that sits at the heart of what the novel is about. It’s a story about seeing the world differently, looking for adventure in the everyday and the need we all have to sometimes escape reality into dream worlds.
What has been the thing that has most delighted you or brought you the most joy in making the play?
Reading the book! The many layers of the story, it’s a story about the writing of a story and the author appears as a character interrupting and contradicting the action, which feels way ahead of its time. It’s also many, many stories within one book, as Don Quixote sets off on multiple adventures and other people he meets along the way pop in and tell their stories. It’s been fun to find ways within the restrictions for a one person show to bring a 949 page, 129 chapter, 686 character novel to life.
What should audiences expect?
A celebration of live storytelling. A humorous, slightly anarchic and playful take on the classic. A fun, sometimes daft but ultimately very human story. And windmills!
What is the thing you’re looking forward to most about returning to live performance, and do you think lockdown has changed the way you make shows?
Audiences. I can’t wait to be in a room with other people. Especially the moment before the show starts, the anticipation of something about to happen.
It’s been a strange old time. We’ve all had to slightly reinvent what we do often making work over zoom or audio then sending our work out into a vacuum. We’re used to having an immediate, live response, whether that’s a laugh or a phone going off or a fire alarm and I’ve missed that, the element of the unexpected.
Personally I had never really sat down on my own and written until Lockdown, I’m used to making stuff up in rooms with other people, so I’ve enjoyed finding a new way of working.
Tilting at Windmills is at the Sherman Theatre from 9th – 30th October www.shermantheatre.co.uk/event/radical-reinventions-tilting-at-windmills/