= BEHIND THE SCENE photographs will be reveal Monday June 22nd at noon =
Dame Judi Dench
Simon Russell Beale
Sir David Hare
Sir Richard Eyre
Earlier this year Maxine did a voice over for the Race for Life / Pink Army campaign. You can watch the video below:
Whether you walk, jog or charge around your chosen Race for Life event, take your place in the fight against cancer and sign up now!
Great @MIFestival sponsors event @doubletree. Maxine Peake & Sarah Frankcom talk about The Striker @rxtheatre #MIF15
On my radar: Bryony Lavery’s cultural highlights
The dramatist on Elena Ferrante, Maxine Peake in The Skriker, star-studded Netflix drama Bloodline and the magic of the Chelsea Flower Show
I saw this 1994 play by Caryl Churchill when it first came out with Kathryn Hunter as the Skriker, but I’m a big fan of Sarah Frankcom and Maxine Peake and so I think that it’s going to be rather wonderful. Manchester international festival – in July – always seems to fizz with exciting possibilities of collaborations. I really like what they do in Manchester; it’s a very different flavour from London theatre. The theatre is out there and adventurous – it doesn’t seem to care what people think of it.
The actor plays the title role in a revival of Caryl Churchill’s electrifying play Skriker at this year’s Manchester international festival. Here she talks about her fears for the environment and a grand tradition of northern wordplay
Caryl Churchill’s play The Skriker, which you’re performing at this year’s Mif, is about an ancient, vengeful shapeshifting fairy, but there’s a lot of subtext – Churchill doesn’t talk about her plays, but people have identified it as being about ecology, madness or motherhood. What ideas jumped out at you?
The environment, really. Femininity, womanhood and motherhood being tied together by Mother Earth; I felt the Skriker was this sort of twisted Mother Earth character. It feels like a feminine clarion call for the abuse we’ve flung at this Earth. It feels to me as though, 20 years ago, it was a warning. Today, we’ve not heeded that warning and we’re in a position where it could be possibly be too late.
So you felt like it was a good play to do at this crisis point?
Yeah, I really do. I’ve been reading Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and that inspired me. I thought “we’re screwed” as far as the environment goes. In 20 years, London is going to be under water, and we’re all going to be scrambling to live as far up north as we can. But there’s hope in that book. It’s an issue we touch on, but people don’t take it seriously. In Britain, everyone is so up to their eyeballs in debt and fear and being completely run ragged by this government, that getting by day-to-day is the main issue. But the sooner we reconnect with the earth, the better. That’s what’s so fascinating about the folklore in the play. It’s about the time when we were pagan: the connection we’ve lost.
With that in mind, did you find the Skriker sympathetic even though she’s terrifying?
She feels like a vessel for the pain the Earth is going through. I never thought of her as being sympathetic or unsympathetic. I just felt that she’s a desperate woman. We created this character who, even if she doesn’t appear sympathetic immediately, is a result of what we’ve done to the Earth.
Have you had a longstanding interest in Caryl Churchill’s work?
I’ve read quite a lot of her stuff – Serious Money, Top Girls – but I’ve never performed it. Every time I’ve read them, I’ve thought what an immense challenge they are, but Skriker was all [director] Sarah Frankcom’s idea. And as soon as I read it, I couldn’t articulate what it was about. but I just said: “That’s the one, isn’t it?’” It felt like the perfect fit for Sarah and myself, and it felt very potent. After we did [Shelley poem] the Masque of Anarchy at Mif 2013, it was about doing another piece that spoke about the times we were living in.
In some ways, it seems like a big change from the Masque of Anarchy, the Shelley poem you performed at Mif 2013 was very overtly political, whereas The Skriker is very dreamlike and surreal …
Although, of course, the Masque of Anarchy was about Peterloo, it was also about a universal and continuing issue, just as the environment is. People said to me afterwards that, if a few names were changed to Cameron and the like, it would be a poem for today. There is something very spiritual and folkloric about it, such as this mythical character of Hope that runs through the piece.
The wordplay of the language in The Skriker is fascinating – the Skriker’s first long speech is like James Joyce. Is it a nightmare to memorise?
I’m just starting on the first speech – it has to be learned before we start rehearsal. It’s about four pages long and we timed it at about eight minutes reading it aloud. When a piece comes in at an hour-and-a-half, that’s quite a chunk. The first time I read it, I was like, “Oh, my goodness – what is this about?”, but once you sit and dissect it, every line has meaning. There are elements that are a bit John Cooper Clarke, for instance, in the word association he uses. There is that north-western tradition, which is also in other artists like in Hovis Presley, a brilliant poet from Bolton, who twisted the meanings of a lot of words and linked them in with other words. So in a strange way, it seems familiar.
How will the play be presented?
I don’t want to spoil it, but the configuration of the Royal Exchange will be very different than people have seen before. The audience will be in the action – they’re not going to be sat watching. It’s going to be a real experience, fingers crossed.
The Skriker grants a lot of wishes, which often turn out badly. If someone offered to grant you a wish, would you take them up?
Oh god. Yeah, I would. I’d wish for the Tories to lose the election.
This interview will be out after the votes come in.
Well, I wish for a socialist government!
Big thanks to Maxine Peake for coming to support us and watch #TheSiege at The Lowry last night! Here with Nabil Al-Raee, co-director of the play.
BOLTON actress Maxine Peake is urging people unhappy with last week’s general election result to “start standing up, asking questions and causing trouble”.
The acclaimed stage and screen star, who grew up in Westhoughton, has teamed up with The Eccentronic Research Council to “strongly oppose the reinstatement” of David Cameron as Prime Minister.
The Silk and Shameless actress said she was “heartbroken” after the Conservative Party swept to power in Britain’s parliamentary elections on Thursday.
She now fears a bleak five years with policies including the party further cutting benefits, the threat of privatisation of the NHS and negotiations through The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The 40-year-old had completed her postal vote and was holidaying in France when she heard the “devastating news” that Cameron had won the election and returned to Downing Street with an outright majority.
She contacted her musician pals, The Eccentronic Research Council, who penned the track Loathsome Dave within a matter of minutes and sent Maxine the words to record on her phone.
Lyrics of the eerie and unsettling spoken word track include “you are not food parcel and share a flat with a stranger Dave, you are 5 houses and my tax — Oh Witney Crab eyed & Bumble Dave”.
Maxine, who was given Bolton Socialist Club’s award for Outstanding Contribution to Socialism last year, said: “I was in shock and particularly heartbroken about what we had decided upon for this government.
“It was just about doing something immediate and just catching the mood we were feeling — come on, let’s get angry, and there’s a lot of humour in there as well.
“I just want people to mobilise really.
“We can’t let this happen, it’s going to be a very long and painful five years.
“We have got to start standing up, asking questions and causing trouble.
“It’s shocking and it’s tantamount to cruelty, forcing people into poverty.”
Loathsome Dave — The Eccentronic Research Council and Maxine Peake
you have not won the battle
but dug deep the grave..
from your Westminster Death Circus
Smug Yee and Lonesome-
anti humanity, pro Selfish and Dave !
Your voice is not our voice but that of
A limp Witney Croak in the wind,
Spiteful humidity and asthma Dave
you are not like us,
you are not food parcel and share a flat with a stranger Dave,
you are 5 houses and my tax – Oh Witney Crab eyed & Bumble Dave,
High Teas and Snobbish Flea Brain
Ladies panties and flip flops Dave
a face that looks like it’s walked in to a hot Iron and ordered a half a lager Dave!
Yee – the blue tied toff dinky winky Dick Turpin dave
the thief dancing on all posterity and hostile to the disabled — rave!
Blast him Out
Anti Intelligence and negligent Dave
You are not Us,
Your Voice is not Ours,
Blast Him Out!
we are the eccentronic research council
and we are not Dave.
Hi from Manchester! @MaxinePeakeNews #TheSiege @The_Lowry
Maxine also recorded poems on Tuesday.. here’s a photo:
Beautiful poem readings in the studio today by Maxine Peake for @guardian