Jane Barnes at Bronte Parsonage Museum. - Jane Barnes: Looking across Haworth Parish Church graveyard to the Bronte Parsonage Museum 3 (2 hours ago)
2 hours ago
The Arches presents
Peter McMaster: Wuthering Heights
Part of BEHAVIOUR 2013
Tue 23 - Sat 27 Apr 2013 | 8.30pm (& 4pm male-only show on Sat 27th) | 70 mins
Featuring overly high drama, romantic violence, a touch of Yorkshire bleakness and a few alternative endings, this all-male performance revisits the landscapes and lives of the characters from Emily Bronte’s classic novel, focusing particularly on Heathcliff’s mysterious disappearance from the moors, and his subsequent return as “a man”.
Created in collaboration with Murray Wason, Chris Hall, Nick Anderson and Thom Scullion, this poignant new work explores their own experiences of what it means to be a man living in the world today. This performance of Wuthering Heights has been developed since its first incarnation at Arches LIVE 2012.
There is a performance for men only at 4pm on Sat 27th April.
Wuthering Heights is a winner of the Arches Platform 18 Award. It can be seen as a double bill with Poke at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh from 1st – 3rd May (7:00 pm)Peter McMaster talks with The Sunday Herald about his adaptation:
Wuthering Heights is an original and exciting interpretation of a classic novel, using an all-male cast. Expect overly high drama, romantic violence and a touch of Yorkshire bleakness, as these bold young men revisit the landscape and lives of the characters of Emily Brontë's celebrated masterpiece.
We're finding ways to understand modes of expression of men," says McMaster. "I've fixated on the character of Heathcliff. He's an orphan, and as a reader you don't know why he's so aggressive. Then there's this weird mysterious part of the book when he disappears, and comes back with all this money. By asking questions about that, we might be able to fill the gaps, but we're also finding out what are the important questions we should be asking about ourselves as men."
Wuthering Heights' other main character is, of course, Cathy, which has involved McMaster and co putting on dresses and exploring how that makes them feel. Having men playing women in serious drama dates back to Shakespeare's day, when boy players would take on the lead female roles. This tradition was rebooted by Edward Hall's all-male Shakespeare company, Propeller. One thinks too of comedian Eddie Izzard and artist Grayson Perry, both of whom enjoy wearing women's clothes without recourse to dragging it up.
"It's perhaps different for us than it was with Shakespeare," McMaster observes, "because then you had a man playing a woman, and everyone knew it was a man, so it was the actor's job to convince you otherwise.
"What we're doing isn't drag, and we're not trying to be women, so we don't know what it is. We're inhabiting a grey area of what's already a grey area, and we're enjoying the sensation of wearing a dress just for how it makes us feel. It's fun to put a dress on, and it's fun to enjoy the melodrama of the story, and get to be emotional in a way men might not normally be, but we're not trying to address the problems of feminism here, but the problems of masculinism, which is a word you won't find in the dictionary."
Wuthering Heights is the public side of a process in which McMaster and his company have been going on retreats and spending other time together beyond the rehearsal room in a way that sounds like a men's group. Given that McMaster is part of several men's groups, this is an observation he's happy to accept.
"It's about seeing what happens when, as a group of men, you go to vulnerable places," he says, "and to find space for reflection on things that might be important. There are no easy answers, but I like going to raw places, and if people don't want to go there, I like to try and get them to go there with me." (Neil Cooper)