ATC Tour Cotton Fields Over & Under GroundDate: 13 September 2001
The Actors Touring Company celebrates its 21st birthday with a UK tour of the contemporary French classic In the Solitude of Cotton Fields. The production marks the debut of ATC’s new Artistic Director, Gordon Anderson, and opens at London Underground’s disused Aldwych Tube Station on 21 September 2001.
Originally presented in its native French as Dans La Solitude Des Champs de Coton, the 1987 work was written by the playwright Bernard-Marie Koltes. Cotton Fields presents the scenario of two strangers meeting at night in a forbidden place. In response to the opening line, “Tell me what you want and I will get it,” the other protagonist replies, “Tell me what you’ve got and I’ll tell you what I want.” The psychological exchanges that follow have been interpreted in varying ways, including the representation of capitalism rendered obsolete.
Director Gordon Anderson trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama. He was a co-founder and director of the successful The League of Gentlemen TV and stage show. Alongside a stint as Assistant Director for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Anderson has also worked with English National Opera, Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre and the Lyric, Hammersmith.
The Cotton Fields cast will comprise of David Westhead and Zubin Varla. Westhead’s leading roles for the RSC, National Theatre and Royal Court include Travesties, Mojo, The Changeling and Libertine. He is currently filming Safe House for the BBC and the film Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.
Zubin Varla trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His numerous RSC works include playing Caliban recently in The Tempest, and he previously appeared in Koltes’ Roberto Zucco. His stage career has also embraced Beautiful Thing (Duke of York’s), Jesus Christ Superstar (Lyceum) and Antigone (Warehouse Productions).
Bernard-Marie Koltes was an openly gay artist who lived in Paris’ Barbes immigrant quarter. Although he only wrote five plays, his death at the age of 41 (from AIDS) and poetic allure have made him something of a figurehead for modern French culture. His other works include Black Battles With Dogs and Return to the Desert.
The Actors Touring Company was founded in 1980, and won a 1999 Evening Standard Award for Mark Ravenhill’s Handbag. The former Aldwych tube station has since been used for a number of artistic endeavours, and the Cotton Fields shows will be played as promenade productions with a limited capacity. Following its London opening, the tour will call at more conventional venues in Glasgow, Poole, Brighton, Barnet, Wolverhampton, Bradford, Bedford, Frome and finally at Stratford’s The Other Place.