John Ward, The Bunker | Interview

Electra | Essential Twenty

My first theatre interview of 2018 is here! Despite not including it in my 2018 goals, I would really like to expand what I blog about when it comes to the theatre and interviewing the cast and creative teams behind productions is a wonderful way for me to do this. And a fantastic way for you to get to know more about the shows currently playing all over the country. Electra is playing in The Bunker from 27th February, and I’ve had the fabulous opportunity to chat with DumbWise Production’s artistic director about the show, as well as learning more about the theatre company itself.

A Mother clings to power whilst her Daughter screams murder. An estranged Son is coming home. A bloody family saga sprawling decades is about to reach its conclusion. Everything is about to change. DumbWise reinvent the murderous Greek myth of power and prophecy as a lyrical modern epic with a live punk-rock score.

If you could describe Electra in just a few words, what would you say to sell the show to your prospective audience?

Greek theatre remixed: Power, politics and violence on an epic scale swept up in a storm of live music.

Who should come to see Electra?

Music lovers, fans of spoken word and epic theatre; those thirsty for something brave and new. In short…everyone (but maybe leave the kids at home)!

What was your vision for Electra? And how has it changed through the production process?

The vision for Electra was to bottle the addictive angst of the stories anti-heroine and run with it; creating new narratives by blending its ancient power with modern influences from international politics and culture. First we had to write it, its a totally new adaptation which has taken a ‘punk DIY’ attitude to reinventing the story. Now I get to direct it, so we’ll see, but so far so good.   

Why was Electra the show you wanted to direct?

If I’m honest, it’s the feel of it. There’s a raw energy to the whole thing which just lends itself to live music and all the things I love about theatre; blood, sweat and tears. The fact that Greek plays are rich in verse, which has allowed me to play around with musical, poetic and often violent language. It’s also, quite simply, the story. The bones of it are an astonishing revenge thriller with plot twists, brooding action, shocking violence, and some very challenging moralities.  

Electra | Essential Twenty

Tell me a little more about DumbWise Theatre

DumbWise are an actor musician company that like to push the buttons of this increasingly popular craft by adapting and reinventing stories with a musical dramaturgy. Actor-musicians are astonishing artists and more work needs to be made that explores and challenges the interplay of these skills.     

What are the common issues you face when putting on productions of this nature?

The amount of work we need to put into the ambitious musical aspect of our productions, alongside all the other rigour of text, physical and character work. There’s just not enough hours in the day! Also, our casts are always quite big for fringe work (usually around 7) which is a big operation in terms of bodies and minds involved on stage and behind the scenes – but its totally worth it.   

Where do you hope DumbWise Theatre will head in the future?

We’ve got a brand new musical adaptation of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ in development this years well as a new adaptation of Carmen. Electra is the first part of a trilogy of new musical productions with anti-heroine leads, which is really exciting!  

I’m personally really excited to see where DumbWise heads this year, and can’t wait to watch the company play through all these roles. Electra is playing at The Bunker in the heart of Southwark (the location of some of my favourite fringe theatres) from the 27th February until 24th March.

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