Interview With… Kate O’Connor

The director spoke to LLLC about her upcoming production of Cuzco at Theatre503. 

Hi Kate, thanks for talking to me. What can we expect from Cuzco? Cuzco is a tragic love story about a couple who travel to Peru to try to save their relationship. Through this narrative the writer Víctor Sánchez Rodríguez explores questions about what it means to be from a certain place or speak a certain language today. It is dark and funny and always surprising. You can expect to go on a journey with these two characters, through a moment of emotional crisis, from one side of the world to another.

How did you come across the play? I am a member of a collective based at Kings College London called Out of the Wings, made up of translators and theatre practitioners from across the globe. They do awesome work in translating, developing and giving UK audiences access to plays from Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries. It’s through this group that I met William Gregory, translator of Cuzco, and first read the play; I was immediately hooked.

What interested you the most about Cuzco that made you want to bring it to the stage in the UK? The first thing that caught my attention was the sense of mystery that pervades every page. It moves from poetry to dark humour in an instant; the second you think you have understood a situation, the characters pull the rug from under your feet. This has always been my favourite kind of theatre because it makes you think actively. And I believe the questions Víctor is exploring deserve attention. Also it is set in three different hotel rooms, which was an irresistible theatrical challenge.

How did you want to approach bringing it to the stage? Right from the start my collaboration with the translator William was key, and he has continued to play a central role in our approach. Theatre translators aren’t often in the spotlight, but they can provide a crucial bridge between the different cultures that you are crossing. His involvement will bring a greater depth to my and the actors’ understanding of the cross-cultural conversation that is taking place, and which we want to extend to audiences. In terms of design, we’re working to bring out a strong sense of the uncanny that runs through the play. I think to say anything else would lead to spoilers!

If people are thinking about coming along to see Cuzco why should they book a ticket? It’s unusual to see contemporary translated drama onstage in London, outside of specialist international venues and festivals. So this is a rare opportunity to catch the work of a writer who is achieving great acclaim in Spain right now, and at renowned new writing venue Theatre503. It’s been surreal to be working on this play whilst uncertainty about the UK’s place in Europe looms over all our heads. I think people should book a ticket because it’s a project that was born out of a close collaboration across borders, between artists and organisations. We have to sustain these relationships and keep sharing aspects of each other’s cultures, now more than ever.

By Emma Clarendon 

Cuzco will play at Theatre503 from the 23rd January.

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