Skip to main content

Matthew Lenton – The Metamorphosis

By rights, Matthew Lenton and Vanishing Point theatre company should have already opened their new production of The Metamorphosis in Italy prior to a short tour of Scotland that begins in Glasgow next week at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow. As it is, the show’s run at the VIE Festival in Cesana in conjunction with their European partners, the Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione, had the plug pulled on it before anyone left Scotland. 

The postponement of The Metamorphosis isn’t, however, an early casualty of Brexit, although such consequences are likely to affect international artistic exchanges soon enough. Rather, Vanishing Point have been grounded due to uncertainties surrounding the Coronavirus currently sweeping the globe, with the Italian government requesting the cancellation of all festivals in their country over the next few weeks as a precautionary measure. 

All of which seems a strangely fitting back-story to Lenton and Vanishing Point’s new take on Franz Kafka’s seminal story about a young office worker who wakes up one morning to discover himself transformed into a giant insect. For Lenton, it’s been a long time coming.

“We talked about doing The Metamorphosis years ago,” he says. “I'd read it when I was younger, and I remember being weirdly underwhelmed by it. But we were talking to the Italian company who I’d worked with before on a version of 1984 about doing something else with them, and I thought, with the atmosphere and darkness of it, Metamorphosis really should be my cup of tea.”

Lenton’s response to Kafka’s story when he re-read it was a completely different experience.

“It made me think about what it must have been like to be Jewish in Germany before the Second World War,” he says, “when gradually you realise that something's happening that’s not only alienating you from society, but is making you an object of persecution because you are what you are. People are moved from their homes into ghettos, and you get to the point of absolute horror and isolation, where you realise that there is no way out. That’s what Gregor’s journey is like, and I started to think about how easy it is for people to become alienated, but also, I became more interested in how easy it is for everyone else to alienate and marginalise someone because of the differences of that person.

“The interesting thing about The Metamorphosis for me isn't the fact that Gregor’s metamorphosis has happened at the beginning. The real metamorphosis is what happens to everybody else around him in response to it. Gregor’s an insect, and it's not necessarily a problem at the beginning, He could be an insect that everyone cares for and goes, okay, that's different, let's try and deal with it, and be empathetic towards this thing.

“That sort of happens at the beginning, then gradually it changes until everyone's behaviour towards Gregor starts to become scarier, and gradually his world disappears and he ends up dying because of the way everyone else begins to treat him differently. That incremental transformation is the thing that's really interesting to me, how people go, okay I can deal with this, there's no problem. But then, for one reason or another, your behaviour towards someone starts to change until you find ways of excusing your behaviour, and at its worst, persecuting people.”

There are clear references to the current plight of refugees and asylum seekers here. This is likely to be heightened by having Gregor played by Italian actor Nico Guerzoni, whose dialogue in an otherwise English-speaking production will be in Italian. This should have different resonances depending on which country the show is being performed.

“When the family wake up and see Gregor, they see someone who's turned into a beetle, but they also see someone who's not from their country. In Italy, seeing the only actor speaking Italian gradually alienated by everybody else will be interesting, and here it's going to be the opposite, with the only person who doesn't speak English being the outsider.”

In this sense, The Metamorphosis addresses Vanishing Point’s very existence as an international company. As Lenton observes, “Doing The Metamorphosis now comes at a fascinating time, because we've just come out of the European Union at a time time we're collaborating with a company that's based in the European Union. So, for this show to happen, as well as this particular story to happen as an international co-production, and as a cultural collaboration, is really interesting. On one level, it's very much about celebrating internationalism, but it's also about exploring the tensions of internationalism.”

 Coronavirus and Brexit aside, Lenton fully intends Vanishing Point to keep on evolving.

“It's always been really important to us that we that we work internationally, and that we're an international company based in Scotland. And I really hope that that that we’ll continue to be able to do that. Even though it becomes harder, and perhaps even because it's harder, it's an even better reason to try to celebrate internationalism, and hopefully not wake up one morning as a beetle. It always seems to be such a failure of the imagination to not be able to put yourself in the place of the other.”

Vanishing Point’s production of The Metamorphosis opens at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, March 10-21, then tours to the Traverse theatre, Edinburgh, April 1-4; Dundee Rep, April 9-11; Eden Court, Inverness, April 15-17. Metamorphosis Unplugged will tour later in the year.

The Herald, March 2nd 2020

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1
1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77)
3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77)
4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77)
5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77)
6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77)
7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77)
8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78)
9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78)
10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79) 
11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79)
12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79) 
13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79)
14. JOLT See Saw (6/79)
15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79)
16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79)
17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79)
18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79)
19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79)
20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79)
21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79)
22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79)
23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79)
24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80)
25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980)

1. THE REZILLOS I Can’t Stand My Baby (Sensible FAB 18/77) If it wasn’t for T…

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1
1. THE STONE ROSES  - Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3  - Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART  - Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS  - Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY - Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!  - Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS - I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS - In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES  - Everso 10. THE SEERS  - Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND - You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS - We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE  - Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS  - Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND - In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES - Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS  - Justice In Freedom (12" Version)

1. THE STONE ROSES Don’t Stop ( SilvertoneORE1989)
The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds like it. Vocalist Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire met in 1980 at Altrincham Grammar School. With bassist …