A LOVE story that questions what it means to be human and alive in this moment, Archipelago receives its world premiere this week at Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts.
The beautiful new play by New York-based, OBIE award-winning writer Caridad Svich tells the story of two lovers, H and B, over the course of several years as they find, lose and find one another again before finally coming to a decision about their lives.
“The play is about love, but as we follow these two characters it also asks what we have to sacrifice of ourselves in building a relationship,” explains Stephen Wrentmore, artistic producer at Lighthouse, who is directing the production.
“Caridad is a wonderfully poetic writer but as you get into the muscularity of the ideas in it the poetry recedes and you’re being asked questions about what it means to be human. There’s a beautiful line in the play that goes ‘So we whisper little songs to each other and surrender our pride.’ That encapsulates what excites me about Archipelago.”
The first production to be staged in the newly opened Sherling Studio at Lighthouse, Archipelago’s world premiere on Thursday (November 24) follows two weeks of rehearsals with the actors Lisa Caruccio Came and Nathan Ives-Molba, but for Stephen and Caridad it marks the culmination of four years developing the script.
“I’m thrilled to be with the piece in Poole,” says Caridad. “Here we are near the sea in a play that is about, partly, the movement of two people as if small islands amidst water. Not necessarily in a city centre in a force of global capitalism, but to the side almost, able to look at how we live in the spaces in between supposed centres of culture.
“Stephen has been with this play for a long time. We have spoken of it a lot and I think he also has a very particular insight into how it functions as a piece of total theatre. I am grateful that our dialogue over the years has led to Poole, and again, hope it continues.”
The play reveals H is from a city and B comes from a desert area that’s also a war zone. As the actors reveal the story in front of the audience they are also seen in a film that depicts both characters in different times and places with the camera exposing their reactions in extreme close up; while the original music by composer Karen Wilmhurst adds another level to the production.
“It offers an extraordinary experience – the film and the music juxtapose, support or challenge what is happening with the actors,” says Stephen.
“What I love about Caridad’s writing is that she’s not content to dance around the big questions she wants to tackle them head on and most people have knowledge or experience of being in love; it’s common to us all.
“Archipelago raises points about cultural imperialism and colonialism – even about Britain today. In the light of Brexit if you are born in Britain but are not white it is a complicated time. So this simple idea about two people and their journey in and out of love asks some difficult questions that encompass both the personal and the political.
“Theatre is always a dialogue with the audience and the play is an hour and twenty minutes or so, but the second half of the interaction is the conversation the play promotes – what would you do?’
Archipelago is at the Sherling Studio, Lighthouse from November Thursday 24 to Saturday December 3.
Contact the box office for tickets.