Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mantel postscript

Sara O'Leary sends an amazing and much fuller interview with Mantel, a must-read if you are at all interested in the process of theatrical adaptation:
“There have been extraordinary times late in rehearsals where Ben” – Ben Miles as Thomas Cromwell, the production’s riveting focal point – “would say, ‘I don’t think that line’s right. Give me a new one, Hilary’ – and there’s your line. There’s something very bracing about that atmosphere.”

Bracing – and perhaps just a little bit eerie. For it becomes apparent during the course of our conversation that it is not just Mike Poulton she’s been working with. In Ben Miles she has, it seems, a living, breathing personification of her complex and chilling protagonist, dead these past five centuries or so. Miles, who is almost never offstage for the plays’ six-hour running time, has created his Cromwell not only from the scripts but also from a total immersion in the books that are their source. He is, Mantel remarks to me at one point, “the only one who really understands the structure of Wolf Hall”; perhaps in part because he made himself a timeline of the novel, and of Cromwell’s life, which he kept pinned up on the walls of an office he had in the rehearsal rooms of the RSC. “It was like that scene in A Beautiful Mind,” he tells me, “when Russell Crowe’s office is discovered and there are just these scribblings everywhere.”

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