Director Q and A
Director Nancy Meckler talks about discovering a rarely produced play.
Have you always thought about directing Alls Well that Ends Well?
The play is rarely produced so I had only seen it once. I am really enjoying discovering all its qualities, The shifts from comedy to drama to romance are very sudden so it is a real challenge for a director.
Does it help that you have worked with Designer Katrina Lindsay before?
Katrina has designed all my shows for the RSC. I love collaborating with her. Although the concept of the costumes needs to be decided before rehearsal begins, Katrina always leaves space to consult with the actors and build her costumes on the things they are discovering in rehearsal.
When have you set the play?
Shakespeare based his story on a tale by Boccaccio and the plot has many fairytale elements. In keeping with that, we decided to present the piece as a timeless story without being specific about period. The set design is abstract and does not suggest any particular moment in time. Although the costumes have 20th century references, they are primarily based on the characters' qualities: The Young Hero, The Grieving Countess, The Lovesick Young Woman.
What are All's Well That Ends Well's strengths?
The play is neither a comedy or a tragedy and people are unsure whether its ending is a happy one. I think that is part of the reason it is called a 'problem play'. But I am really enjoying finding unexpected and surprising clues about the characters which give lots of opportunity for visual storytelling. One of its great strengths is its characters. They are bold, complex, romantic, and funny.
Tell us about the cast.
Our actors are currently performing in Hamlet and As You Like It. The work in the rehearsal room is all the richer because of the relationships they have built in those plays. For example Hamlet and Horatio now play Bertram and Parolles in All's Well. In both plays the relationship is incredibly close, but the characters are completely different. Also Celia and Orlando in As You Like It play the love interests in All's Well.