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Katie Antoniou interviews 'The Spanish Tragedy' director Mitchell Moreno

A contemporary interpretation of The Spanish Tragedy has opened at The Arcola to rave reviews;with an incredibly talented cast,including the likes of Dominic Rowan- who is set to co-star with Keira Knightley in her West end debut- this is an unmissable production full of the stars of tomorrow. Director Mitchell Moreno made time to give Run-Riot a 'behind the scenes' insight into the production. Mitchell's credits include Men Without Shadows (Finborough Theatre) and HIppolytus (Orange Tree), and he has worked as a staff and resident director at the National Theatre, RSC, and on the musical Billy Elliot in the West End.

The Spanish Tragedy hasn't been staged professionally in the UK for 25 years; what made you decide to put on a contemporary interpretation?

When I was at university I was introduced to The Spanish Tragedy as an important piece of literature, as a play which kick-started the revenge genre on the English stage and influenced Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

But when I was asked to reread the play with a view to directing it, I was for the first time struck by what amazing drama it is. It’s a deeply theatrical piece, but in its observation of character and relationships it also shows great psychological accuracy. Hieronimo, the lead character, loses his teenage son in a brutal murder, and experiences a cycle of acute grief as he seeks justice for this wrong. His world is one that’s brutalised by violence, not least because the country has been at war. This resonated for me with aspects of our society today, where violence is part of a way of life for many young people, and where we hear about tragic and unmotivated deaths every week.

The play considers how easy it can seem to take a life, but how utterly devastating that is when it’s the life of someone you love and when the crime goes unpunished.

How hard has it been putting on a production mid-recession?

It’s tough! The challenge with a production like this is that it requires a pretty large cast, and the economics are such that even if we sold every ticket, the show wouldn’t make a profit. So we very much rely on the kindness and generosity of people who believe in the creative merit of the project, and choose to support us in the knowledge that they won’t be making any money from it.

If you could change one thing about the current British theatre scene, what would it be?

I’d like to see the bigger, subsidised theatres taking a more active role in nurturing and supporting younger talent – including directors – and putting on properly resourced festivals of work from emerging practitioners.

And any advice for young people wanting to go into directing?

Learn as much as possible about the art and craft of acting. Get whatever experience you can working on theatre shows, in whatever capacity. When seeing professional work, be as analytical as possible about how it is constructed and why it is successful (or not). Do projects because they excite you rather than because you think they will help you get ahead.

This week you can get 2 for 1 on tickets for The Spanish Tragedy, just phone and book in advance, quoting 'Hieronimo' (pr. hee-ron -nee-mo)- valid until and on FRIDAY 30 October. Find a date or a mate and call 020 7503 1646 before tickets sell out!


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