NT Honours Wilde with Redgrave Double BillDate: 20 October 2000
Corin Redgrave will star in two plays to mark the centenary of Oscar Wilde's death. The double bill - In Extremis, a new play by Neil Bartlett, and De Profundis, based on Wilde's own self-analytical work - will open at the NT - Cottesloe on 7 November 2000, following previews from 3 November, and will continue until 16 December. Alongside NT artistic director Trevor Nunn, Redgrave also directs the productions, which are presented at the National in association with Moving Theatre, the company Corin formed with his sister Vanessa in 1994.
In Extremis takes place on the night of 24 March 1895 when Mrs Robinson, a society palm reader, agrees to see Wilde in her London flat. Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, 'Bosie', is urging him to sue the Marquis of Queensberry (Bosie's father) for criminal libel. But Wilde's friends, wary of Queensberry's power, are warning him to leave town. In Extremis reveals the strange turmoil of that night, as a man at the height of his fame turns to a complete stranger for advice about a life-changing decision.
De Profundis, set two years on from this encounter, towards the end of his sentence in Reading Gaol, finds Wilde agonising over the lack of contact with Bosie. In desperation, he starts to write his lover a letter, filled with accusation, recrimination and passion. The stage play is based on Wilde's original text, considered by some to be one of the greatest love letters ever written.
Redgrave plays the Irish writer in both plays and is joined by stage veteran Sheila Hancock, as Mrs Robinson, in In Extremis. Redgrave's recent theatre work includes The Cherry Orchard (which he is currently starring in, with his sister, in repertory at the Cottesloe), A Song at Twilight and Tennessee Williams' Not About Nightingales. The 1994 world premiere of the last was co-produced by Moving Theatre at the National. It went on to Houston and Broadway, earning Redgrave Best Actor nominations from the Olivier, Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his portrayal of a sadistic prison warden.
Hancock has worked extensively in the theatre for the RSC, the Royal Court and in the West End. Her credits include Vassa, The Winter's Tale, Titus Andronicus, Peter Pan and The Cherry Orchard. Translater, director and writer Neil Bartlett, who penned In Extremis, is currently artistic associate at the Lyric Hammersmith. His written works for the stage include The Seven Sacraments of Nicolas Poussin and Sarrisine. Most recently, he translated, designed and directed the award-winning production of Marivaux's The Dispute.
In conjunction with the double bill of plays, the National will present an 'Oscar Wilde Week' to commemorate the writer's death. The week - which will incorporate a series of events including play and story readings by leading actors, discussions, free outdoor events and a candlelit memorial celebration - will run from Monday 27 November to Saturday 1 December 2000.