The egg theatre has joined forces with Bristol Old Vic, Lancaster’s The Dukes and Cardiff’s Theatr Iolo to co-produce Savage Children, a double-bill of two modern classics – John Retallack’s Wild Girl and Ad de Bont’s Mirad, A Boy from Bosnia. Savage Children visits Bath’s egg theatre twice in June appearing from Monday 3rd June to Saturday 8th June and returning from Thursday 27th June to Saturday 29th June. On both occasions the plays will appear in repertory, giving audiences the chance to watch each of the performances individually or as part of a double-bill.
Savage Children is directed by John Retallack, who also wrote Wild Girl. The Savage Children double-bill marks the 10th anniversary of the first staging of Wild Girl, and the 20th anniversary of Mirad, A Boy from Bosnia, written by Ad de Bont and translated by Marian Buijs. Both plays are based on real children and real historical events, portraying young people in extraordinary circumstances and focusing on the relationship between parent and child.
Wild Girl is about ‘Memmie’ Le Blanc, a 10-year-old feral girl with a unique affinity to nature who was discovered on the country estate of a Count and Countess in mid-18th century France. After living completely wild for some years in the vast woods that surround the country estate, the girl is drawn to the house during a period of drought, seeking water. The Count and Countess are childless and seek to ‘save’ the girl, who they name ‘Memmie’. They hope to adopt her, they want to domesticate her and make her a citizen who can play, study, make friends and work. But they come up against a ferociously independent girl who makes her own judgement as to how dependent she is prepared to be – and how free. Challenging preconceptions about relationships between parents and children, Wild Girl raises fascinating questions about the rights of the child.
Mirad, A Boy from Bosnia is set in the indescribably savage Bosnian civil war and tells the story of a 13 year-old boy’s survival against the odds, despite the loss of his parents, one dead, the other missing. Focusing on his search for his mother, this unique play gives a searing portrayal of the impact of war on children. Written in everyday language and featuring people who are anything but heroes, Mirad is funny, tragic and hopeful all at once. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Mirad has been seen, and vividly remembered, by teenagers and adults throughout Europe. Winner of the 1994 Dutch-Flemish Playwrights’ Prize, it has been translated into 12 languages and was adapted into a film for Channel 4 starring Jeremy Irons and Sinéad Cusack in 1997.
Director John Retallack says: “20 years since the first performance in Holland, Mirad remains the best play for young people ever written about the plight of refugees. Through Mirad’s eyes and words we come to understand what children have experienced in all war-torn countries in recent years and understand more deeply the experience of refugees who live in new countries unable to return home.”
The Savage Children double-bill is performed by Géhane Strehler and Dean Rehman. Géhane’s stage work includes roles in New York, Los Angeles, and Colorado. In the UK, she has performed with the National Theatre; Dublin’s Abbey Theatre; Company of Angels; and London’s Unicorn Theatre. Dean has worked extensively in San Francisco and Manhattan. In the UK, he has performed with National Theatre Wales; Shock N Awe; Theatr Clwyd; and Bristol Old Vic.
Director and writer John Retallack founded the award-winning Actors Touring Company and was Artistic Director of Oxford Stage Company for 10 years until 1999. He founded Company of Angels in 2001 to produce new and experimental work for young audiences. Since 2011, John has been Associate Director and Director of Outreach at Bristol Old Vic. Written in 2002 for Company of Angels, Wild Girl is one of John’s extensive portfolio of plays and adaptations. It has also been translated and performed in Holland, France and Belgium.
John Retallack, comments: “What’s fantastic about these two plays is that they are both exceptionally powerful and compelling stories about children who have to make the most life-changing decisions before they are even 12 years old. One has been brought up in a very civilised way and has been thrown into the savagery of war. The other has come from a ‘savage’ state and has been abandoned to bring herself up in the forest. She is offered the solace of civilisation but decides to reject that in favour of her former life. Both of these plays present choices for the children and the audience can identify strongly with the central characters. Yet what is common and striking in both plays is that the child never appears as a character – he or she is evoked by the adults who tell the story either through letters in Mirad or through physical transformation in Wild Girl.”
Original music for Savage Children has been composed by Bristol-based instrumentalist and musical director Elizabeth Westcott. Set and costume design is by Katie Sykes, who has worked many times with Bristol Old Vic, Travelling Light Theatre Company and the Tobacco Factory.
SAVAGE CHILDREN appears at the egg theatre from MONDAY 3rd JUNE to SATURDAY 8th JUNE and returns to the egg theatre from THURSDAY 27th JUNE to SATURDAY 29th JUNE.
Tickets are available from the egg theatre on 01225 823 409, the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or online via www.theatreroyalorg.uk