AFTER success on the Edinburgh Fringe and an international tour, Translunar Paradise, a poignant play about the joy of love and the pain of grief comes to the north of Scotland.
In Translunar Paradise, Theatre Ad Infinitum uses mask and a gestural language to present a poignant play celebrating the joy and beauty of love and companionship.
George Mann, who wrote, co-devised and directed the play for Theatre Ad Infinitum, anaswered some questions about the show.
What is Translunar Paradise all about
The play’s about many things: love, shared memory and loss and a relationship spanning 60 years told through the memories of an old widower, William. He has recently lost his wife and instead of moving on he gets lost in past memories. His wife Rose, seeing he is unable to let go, stays with him as a ghost and helps him come to terms with his loss.
The story follows William and Rose as they share wonderful memories together - from their courting days in the 1940s right through to their last days together. A real rich tapestry of a life shared.
This piece is about moving on. And to move on we have to come to terms with and be truly happy with the past. For us the magic of this piece is that it manages to convey the richness of a lifetime in 75mins – and the audience feels, experiences and lives every moment with us. It’s a shared journey made possible by our extraordinary, intricate and very life-like masks.
What is new and different about it?
We break the traditional ‘mould’ of using mask - by combining it with puppetry: our masks are handheld. It’s also one of a very few plays that attempts to communicate a story of complex themes and emotional content without text.
It’s told instead using action.
Why did you choose this subject matter?
My experiences with death and grief over the last 15 years taught me that death is very much a part of life, and aside from being sad and extremely difficult to deal with, it is also a wonderful gift. I wanted to create a piece about this. My father was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and died in January 2011.
Following his diagnosis with lung cancer and his treatment I found myself in and out of something like premature grief. But paradoxically, alongside this feeling, I also realized that each of day of that five year period was another day in which my father was still living; it was an opportunity to appreciate our relationship, sort out our differences, and to say goodbye – I consider myself lucky in that respect.
And what really spurred you on to write this play?
It was reading WB Yeats’ The Tower that hardened my resolve to actually go ahead and write this play. ‘That being dead, we rise, dream and so create, Translunar Paradise’. Yeats’ character, an old man embittered by loss and old age was effectively the man I wanted to put on stage.
I wanted to take this character (and in a way, myself) on a journey that would help him to look more positively at life after death, and ‘William’ was born out of this inspiration, which later became Translunar Paradise.
So how does the play without words actually work?
It works by using action to communicate –the body in fact. There’s so much the body can and does say, but we seldom realise this, which is probably why most theatre nowadays is centered around text and what we literally say.
Our actions and bodies tell this story via hand-held masks, which allow a performer to be older, and using a gestural language employed by removing the masks revealing our younger selves and transporting us back in time. Time travel! This found style is perfect for our story about an old couple sharing memories of their youth.
*Translunar Paradise is at Eden Court, Inverness as part of the Luminate Festival on Sunday 20th October and The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, on Tuesday 22nd October. Both performances begin at 7.30pm.