“Theatre is the love of my life”: Emma Rice Shares Her Thoughts in WISE CHILDREN'S DETENTION
Following a short run in Bristol at the beginning of the year, Wise Children's Romantics Anonymous was due to head across the Atlantic for an American tour - and their new tour of Malory Towers was also on the verge of opening in Cumbria. All their plans were thrown into disarray, however, when first America and then the UK started to close the theatres (the Romantics Anonymous set, as well as the sound and lighting equipment, is currently stranded in LA).
To try and come to terms with this loss, to "stay sane", and to plug the gap during the shutdown, Emma Rice and the team have begun a series of livestream editions of the Wise Children podcast.
The audience was invited into Emma's office - for her, "a space for dreaming" - for an exclusive glimpse at rehearsals from all three of the company's shows to date, as well as some previously unseen archival footage. "Theatre is the love of my life", said Rice. Seeing theatre going from a place of gathering for a bit of storytelling and comfort to something that's "almost illegal" has been unsettling to say the least; "I'm not quite sure who I am without theatre and without my community."
Malory Towers would have just begun its run at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, so it was fitting to start off with some rehearsal footage of the 2020 company that then led into an archive clip of the 2019 production, both of the girls in their French lesson. Then, as a reminder that we all need to draw on our resilience to try and help us through these strange times, some more from last year's tour; pupils arriving at Malory Towers are told that they need to be "good, sound women the world can lean on", and to show consideration for others. "I can't wait to pick up where we left off," said Rice, as she and the company had become "intoxicated" with the show.
By now, Romantics Anonymous should have completed a stint at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in LA and just opened as part of Simon Godwin's inaugural season as Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC. Seeing Mercier and Angélique's first meeting from rehearsal room to the Bristol Old Vic was a lovely treat - as was the Beverly Hills 90210-themed trailer that had been put together by Simon Baker for the LA run, and not shared until now.
Finally, to mark the arrival of their debut production of Angela Carter's Wise Children on the BBC iPlayer (as part of their "Culture In Quarantine" virtual festival), the company decided to share an extended version of the young Chance sisters morphing into their showgirl phase - an excellent example of how a show can continue to develop from the rehearsal room to the stage.
Wise Children are currently due to open their next production (a new adaptation of Wuthering Heights) at The National Theatre this autumn; there is no news about this so far, though presumably there may be some discussion about it in a future edition of the podcast, when there is some clarity over the timeline for theatres reopening.
"Thank you to all my brilliant companies past, present, and future", ended Rice, particularly focusing on the Malory Towers and Romantics Anonymous teams who "should have been having the time of their lives" at this point. "What a joy it is to dance and sing!" say the Chance sisters in Wise Children - and that is definitely a great sentiment to live by.
Picture credit: Wise Children