Running time: 60 minutes
Two lovers strive to hold on to each other as political forces tear them apart. A multi-sensory, poetic tale of one woman’s painful journey to emancipation, this contemporary staging of one of France’s most iconic plays is underpinned by an original score of world- and electronic music and powerful physical elements.
In a new translation by Rosie Hilal, this verse drama is given a powerful, contemporary re-awakening. A French classic hardly known in Britain, Berenice was written by Jean Racine more than 300 years ago. This is the first time a Racine play has been translated by a woman, which given the subject matter and central character of the piece, makes for a uniquely feminist interpretation of his work.
Three central characters, from Palestine, Syria/Turkey (the occupied East) and Rome (the imperial, dominating West) revolve around the impossibility of love in an intimate, in-the-round setting, where music and movement bring to the fore the cultural and societal clashes inherent in the play.
The agonising opposition of public duty versus private love begs the question of how much we are ever in control of our freedom, and how far we can go for love without giving up our own identity. In some ways, Berenice and Titus recall a grown-up Romeo and Juliet, with an uncertain outcome.
David Furlong (director) of London’s francophone Exchange Theatre, teams up with Rosie Hilal (translator), Tomas Wolstenholme (music) and Jenn Kay (movement) to create a powerful piece of theatre with music. Some text will be set to music and sung, like a modern electro-opera, and a silent Roman ‘chorus’ will make this a uniquely theatrical version of the timeless French tragedy. The music draws from Rosie Hilal’s own Eastern cultural heritage, as well as the harsh yet rhythmically seductive sounds of modern electronic music and drum&bass.
This is a cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary drama supported by Dramaturg Phil Morris of the Wales Arts Review, Exchange Theatre, Longfield Hall Trust (Lambeth), the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Cambridge University French faculty, and Theatre Delicatessen.
Find out more about the company
Facebook: theatre forge
Translator Rosie Hilal: www.rosiehilal.com