Of Mice and Men, the oft-studied, and highly polarizing classic of American literature is taking to the Seymour Centre stage in July. The controversial classic is adapted to the stage by Nobel Prize-winning author, John Steinbeck and is presented by Sport for Jove Theatre Company as part of the 2015 Reginald Season.
Award-winning theatre practitioner, Iain Sinclair will be taking the directing reins on this classic and I was lucky enough to bend his ear on the trials and tribulations of bringing a classic to the stage.
Firstly, it’s worth noting that Iain himself is no slouch, having graduated from RADAs masters program in 1997 and has since gone on to achieve four Critics Circle Awards, as well as four Sydney Theatre Award nominations (winning with The Seed) which was also a runner-up for an AWGIE Award.
The word classic is bandied about a lot – I myself have used it five times already in this article alone. So, how does one present a work that’s already a classic, which already has earned its place in people’s hearts and minds? This seemed the appropriate starting point in my conversation with Iain.
The clue, it seems, is in the ‘lean eloquence’ of Steinbeck’s writing. Iain suggests that there is simplicity and brevity to Steinbeck’s writing, but that he imbues his work with ideas and meaning. The best way approach it, Iain suggested, was with ‘humility as your first port of call.’ He says to approach with ‘the mind of an apprentice,’ and to closely unpack [the writing] before then coming up with your own ideas.’
Among those ideas in imbued in Steinbeck’s writing, lies the fact that the novel remains a ‘striking indictment of how we treat our disenfranchised fringe dwellers, our migrant peoples and our most vulnerable citizens.’ Sound familiar?
Iain refers to it as ‘A great piece of blues.’
Directed by Iain Sinclair, Of Mice and Men will star an immensely talented line up of talent including Anthony Gooley, Andrew Henry, Anna Houston, Charles Allen, Andre de Vanny, Christopher Stollery, Laurence Coy, John McNeil and Tom Stokes.
Of Mice and Men opens July 9, 2015. Visit www.seymourcentre.com for further details
Top right: Iain Sinclair. Photo – Marnya Rothe