|'Miss Julie' comes to Cipriani |
By Iana Seales Friday, December 19 2014
August Strindberg’s classic play, Miss Julie, which explores gender power struggles and socio-economic class divisions has been adapted for local audiences by recent University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) graduates who believe the issues are relevant to Trinidadian society.
The play opened last Wednesday at the CLR James Auditorium, Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies, Valsayn and during the lead-up to the opening, the team was heavily promoting it on social media sites. “This is an interesting play and when we first started work on it we realised how much of it is relevant to our own society...the themes about love, gender and class and others. We’ve adapted it for our own society and we are encouraging people to come see it,” said Vedesh Nath.
Since graduating from the UTT Fine Arts programme, Nath and his classmate, Aryana Mohammed have worked on the play. They also approached local veteran, Errol Sitahal, who helped to write the script.
In the original story, the play takes place in the kitchen of a Swedish count’s country estate. While the rest of the household enjoys the revels of a midsummer celebration outside, the count’s daughter Julie escapes to the kitchen to engage in a complex game of seduction with Jean, her father’s valet (played by Nath).
For the local production, the story unfolds on Christmas Eve and Julie (played by Rebecca Foster) is the daughter of a wealthy man. She seems in control and wielding the upper hand in her initial interactions with Jean, but as the story develops he assumes a more dominant position and there is some scheming and dealing mixed with love and lust.
Nath said he is encouraged by the growing interest in the production that will run until this Sunday at the Cipriani campus. The play also stars Tishana Williams in the role of Christine, the household cook who is in a relationship with Jean.
“There is a lot going in the play and we hope to communicate all of it. There are tensions and emotional violence among other things between the main characters,” Nath observed. He added, “The characters find themselves in the play and this is one of the messages we think is relevant to our society.”
The idea to adapt the play is part of a wider project to launch a production company. Nath and his team founded a company called, “Fab Productions” with help from Pakistani producer, Farrukh Barlas. According to Nath, the company intends to produce culturally relevant work and contribute meaningfully to theatre in Trinidad and Tobago.
Nath explained that during his years at UTT the lessons challenged him to think more deeply about local culture and its impact on development. “What we’ve learnt at UTT is what we intend to put into practise now and that is about understanding our culture better and exploring in a deeper way who we are.”