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Antaeus Diary: Dakin Matthews And The Bridge Project

I guess you could say we’re winding down her at the Bridge Project, though six more weeks is pretty much a standard run in any other theatre.  And the final week in Epidaurus is far from standard.

The Winter’s Tale and The Cherry Orchard have settled down into a regular rotation schedule, so our days tend to be free—though there are the occasional put-in rehearsals for new musicians or understudies.  The weather for Wimbledon week was spectacular, as many of you probably saw on TV, but now it has reverted to its typical London will-it-or-won’t-it guessing game.

Anne has gone home, and family starts to come in for visits today, so I’ll probably do a bit more sightseeing with them.  British Museum, Tate (old and modern), National Gallery, that sort of thing.

Earlier this week we were treated to a tour of St Paul’s by Simon Russell Beale, who spent much of his childhood there

Photo by Dakin Matthews

Photo by Dakin Matthews

as a “Paul’s boy.”  The cathedral school was originally founded in the 16th century to train choirboys for the church, and, somewhat more interestingly, young actors for its theatre company, under the direction of John Lily.  Some of these boys went on to become adult actors with the major companies.  Simon was trained as a chorister and, remarkably, went on to become one of London’s most prestigious actors (while some of his classmates went on to the clergy). St. Paul’s, of course, is where booksellers set up their stalls and sold things like Shakespearean Quartos, and the central aisle was more like Main Street than a church in Shakespeare’s day.  The original church burnt to the ground in the Great Fire, and Christopher Wren rebuilt the current one somewhat on the model of St. Peter’s in Rome.  Most of the monuments inside are, surprisingly, military and political, and there is no large “Poet’s Corner”; but I did manage to pay a little homage at the graves of some pre-Raphaelite artists, along with John Donne, and my favorite, Sir Arthur Sullivan.

I do enjoy walking about Southwark—Shakespeare’s old stomping grounds—and retracing his steps to places where I know he must have been.  I’m planning at least one more visit to Shakespeare’s Globe—perhaps to see what they do with Troilus and Cressida—and I’ll try to see a matinee or two in the West End.  (I see the local Southwark Theartre (professional? amateur? in between?) is doing The Rover this week.)

Sundays—our days off–have tended to be busier that workdays, amazingly enough.  Two weeks ago it was an all day party at the country estate (and I do mean estate) of Sam Mendes and Kate Winslett in the Cotswolds.  It as a two hour drive there and three hours back, but in between there was swimming, badminton (on their private court), soccer (their private pitch) a whole hog on the spit, dessert in the Turkish tent, and a bonfire in their 40 acre meadow, being serenaded by Jeremy Irons and Ethan Hawke and their guitars.  And did I mention lots of alcohol.

Last Sunday was Wimbledon finals all day, then a birthday party all night on the rooftop apartments of the complex.  Then next Sunday is another trip out of town to an all-day party hosted by Sinead Cusack and Jeremy Irons at their house in Oxfordshire.

I’ve been trying to keep working on other projects while I’ve been here.  I just finished a new translation of Lope’s Romeo and Juliet play (called The Capulets and The Montagues) and had a reading with the company last week.  It went well enough that I’m considering producing it next year.  And right now I’m halfway through my newest project, a musical of Goldoni’s The Mistress of the Inn.  I did a translation some years ago, and revised it for another theatre last year; and at the time, I though it could make a terrific small musical (six roles).  So I’ve gotten a composer on board; and I cut the script and write lyrics in London and send them to him, and he composes music in LA and sends it to me.  So we’re writing in cyberspace.  We hope to have the first draft of book, lyrics, and music done by the end of August.

Which is when I’ll be seeing you all again.  And not a moment too soon.

Founding Artistic Director Dakin Matthews

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