Philip Breen

Interview: Lady Chatterley’s Lover

With a history of censorship and an outright ban in a number of countries, Lady Chatterley’s Lover is one of the most widely known modern novels. A tale of love, passion and social class, in a post-war world struggling to make sense of itself; we chat to Director Philip Breen about his stage adaptation of this classic.

Hi Philip, what’s on your agenda today?

Hi, it’s a few interviews, mainly for this and a couple of other things I’m working on too.

Have you started rehearsals for Lady Chatterley’s Lover yet? Tell us a bit about the cast.

The rehearsals start on Monday so I’m looking forward to that. The cast are a mix of some people I have worked with before, the likes of Hedydd Dylan who plays Lady Chatterley, Eugene O’Hare who plays Sir Clifford Chatterley and Ciaran McIntyre (Sir Malcom Reid/Mr Linley), who I knew would be right for it. But there are a couple of new people that I’ve discovered; it’ll be interesting to start a new journey with them.

Hedydd Dylan

This was once such a controversial novel, how do you think the story stands up in today’s more liberal society?

I think DH Lawrence would probably laugh at the idea that we are a more open and permissible society! I think we’re the most easily offended people who have ever walked the earth; often looking for things to be offended by. I hope what I’ve done with the adaptation is to do something that’s really faithful to spirit of the novel whilst at the same time speaks to a contemporary audience in Sheffield. The most important thing about the play is that it’s funny, surprising and something that will feel very now, very contemporary. If you don’t know the novel, it’s not what you expect – don’t just think about the legend or judge it on its reputation. Be prepared to be surprised!

What have been the challenges of adapting it to the stage?

I suppose staging it in the Crucible poses problems, there are lots of locations and it’s important to keep fluidity, to keep the play moving.

Were there any scenes you had a particular vision for?

I have a vision for every scene, particular things I’m interested in seeing how they connect to an audience. There are a lot of things in the novel that are not too dissimilar to what people are experiencing today. There are a lot of parallels.

Tell me a bit about your acting workshop with Sheffield Theatres.

I quite often do workshops, and they’re for everyone; maybe someone will come along who has seen the play and I will talk about how we did it, or it could be aspiring actors.  I like meeting new people, and if they think they might learn something by spending a bit of time with me then I’m delighted. Wherever I go people are very interested in the making of plays, the staging and things like that. There’s a deluge of programmes on such things – the running of cruise liners, airports, kitchens… If people are interested in our profession in the same way, then that’s fantastic.

What’s on the horizon for you after this production? Anything else with Sheffield Theatres?

If they will have me back I will be delighted! It depends on how well Lady Chatterly goes… I have a lot of work lined up, there’s something with the RSC and a new musical in London which is tremendously exciting, though I can’t tell you much about that now. And then I’m back up to Toyko.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is on at The Crucible Theatre from September 22nd – October 15th. Head here for tickets and more information.

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