Michael Cox speaks with Cumbernauld Theatre's artistic director about their touring production of classic novel.
Michael Cox: What was the thought process behind choosing to stage Kidnapped?
Ed Robson: I wanted to do a classic--some might even say old fashioned--novel. I read widely across Scottish literature of the 19th Century and kept coming back to Robert Louis Stevenson's work: Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Jekyll/Hyde. There's something uniquely atmospheric in his writing, and as it’s been over 10 years since anyone staged Kidnapped in Scotland, I thought it would be the ideal time to select that novel and re-adapt it for the stage.
MC: Had you read the novel, prior to the project or during it?
ER: I did read the novel--probably over 10 times--before starting the adapting process but didn’t watch any of the films or TV adaptations until the writing process was complete. There's always a chance that seeing another adaptation will overly influence the process--for good or bad. Subsequently, I've watched them all, I think, and they're all very different from ours, and indeed from each other.
MC: You’ve been keeping a blog during the rehearsal process. How has that been?
ER: It’s been useful, and terrifying. Despite what anyone might think, most theatre directors--myself included--are usually quiet people who don’t necessarily want to be in the limelight. So the blog’s been a bit of a collective effort. We've all written a little bit, or bounced ideas off one another. It’s also a bit out of date now as during tech week we've had no time to update it.
MC: How would you describe the adaptation you are using?
ER: It’s a fairly sharp, dynamic adaptation. Events move quickly and there's little time to pause for breath. Kidnapped is, at one level, an epic adventure story, and the pursuit scenario forms the basis of the adaptation.
MC: Though this is opening in your theatre [Cumbernauld Theatre], this is a touring production. Are there any advantages to directing a production meant to tour?
ER: Touring is one of the best things a theatre can do: to create a show and tour it means the impact of the work is wider than just any one particular geographic area. Touring in Scottish theatre has struggled for the last few years, and it’s vital that there is a strong resurgence and investment in future Scottish theatre touring for all audiences in all areas.
MC: Have there been any challenges?
ER: It’s always going to be the sword fighting. We've a new idea, but I can’t say any more than that though...
MC: Any last words?
ER: It’s been a pleasure to work on RLS's writing--he really was a genius.
Kidnapped is on tour until May 26.