How challenging is it to rehearse a brand-new play with two different casts in two different languages? Simone Coxall has helped to birth Paloma Pedrero’s The Eyes of the Night from rehearsed reading during last year’s Contemporary Spanish Playwriting season to full-scale premiere headlining this year’s season. We talked to her about her work at the Cervantes Theatre. Time to get booking!
The Eyes of the Night runs at the Cervantes Theatre from 11 to 28 September 2019, with a press night on Friday 13 September, including a post-show Q&A with the English cast chaired by MyTheatreMates founder Terri Paddock.
The two-hander, written by internationally renowned Spanish playwright Paloma Pedrero, translated by Catherine Boyle, receives a full production this year following a successful dramatised reading last year as part of the Cervantes’ inaugural Contemporary Spanish Playwriting Season.
The Eyes of the Night is a complex and beautiful play that reveals the deepest desires and fears of a middle-aged businesswoman who, with the help of a blind man, will need to experience the darkness in order to see the light.
Life is full of moments of change that can pop up at anytime. An unexpected encounter between a businesswoman, who supposedly has triumphed in life, and a blind man who she’s just met and asked to spend a few hours in a hotel with her can be the trigger for a new life. Both will have to be able to open up and let themselves experience the darkness in order to see the light…
Talking to… Simone Coxall
Director and movement director Simone Coxall staged last year’s reading of The Eyes of the Night and now returns to helm the full-scale premiere production, in both English and Spanish. Most recently, she directed Shackleton and His Stowaway for Stolen Elephant at the Cervantes Theatre, while her credits for Fourth Monkey and elsewhere include Terrorism, The Nesting Place, Don Juan Comes Back from the War, The Tempest, Vinegar Tom, Orpheus and Eurydice, Balthazar’s Bazaar, The Island of Happiness, The Miracle of the Birds and Our Country’s Good.
What’s your relationship to date with the Cervantes Theatre?
I first worked with Cervantes Theatre last year when we did a rehearsed reading of The Eyes of the Night. But I have known both its artistic directors, Jorge de Juan and Paula Paz, for a few years. It was, for me, an incredibly rich and creatively stimulating experience working both on Paloma’s script with the Spanish cast and on Catherine Boyle’s translation with the English cast. What Cervantes does is unique and incredibly important. It is a privilege to be working here.
Tell us about the characters in The Eyes of the Night.
The characters in The Eyes of the Night are complex, at times, difficult and very human. The play is prepared to reveal parts of being human that can make us uncomfortable. The businesswoman Lucia’s crisis is familiar to many women as they wrestle with society’s demands for perfection, beauty, its obsession with appearance. She is questioning its deification of youth and consumer culture and has reached a point where she no longer knows who she is.
Angel, the blind man who likes to think of himself as outside of these concerns, feels that we have lost something about being truly human, that we prioritise sight over touch, speaking over listening. He understands that darkness is human and we need to accept it. However, he also arrives in the hotel room with a whole set of gendered assumptions that are difficult to accept and are indeed challenged by Lucia.
Tell us about your cast.
I have two casts who bring their own dynamics and flavours to the room. It is exciting and enlightening to have a chance to work with both of them. We are truly an international ensemble with Spanish, American and Australian actors.
How challenging is it rehearsing two casts in different languages?
It is demanding rehearsing two casts, but I find they both inform each other. I rehearse the English cast in the morning and the Spanish cast in the afternoon. As an English speaker, I find I have learnt so much by engaging with the Spanish text that I would not have experienced if I only worked with the translation. It also means I can engage with Catherine Boyle’s script and understand to some degree the choices she has made. Working with the English in the morning means I come to the Spanish room with the text more present in my head.
How good is your Spanish?
How, if at all, do you think the play differs between English & Spanish?
The presentations do differ to a degree. I like to work with my actors to shape their thoughts and find the shifts and changes of their journey through the play. This means I work with the actors’ impulses in relation to staging and physical actions. Who they are and the cultures they live, of course, feeds into this.
Why should audiences see The Eyes of the Night?
It holds up a mirror to so much of contemporary culture that we struggle with now: the obsession with the visual, the emptiness of consumer society, the pressures of chasing after perfection. It is also about how we try to reach out across divides to find human connection and even love – not often successfully and sometimes to our cost. But, in these divided times, it is also about what it is to listen, to really try and listen to each other.
The Eyes of the Night (Los ojos de la noche) runs from 11 to 28 September 2019 at the Cervantes Theatre, Arch 26, Old Union Arches, 229 Union Street, London SE1 0LR, with 7.30pm performances, in Spanish on Wednesdays and Thursdays, in English on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets priced £15-£25. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
Huge congratulations to these two talented Carolina Herran and Robert Bradley and to the director Simone Coxall for their wonderful work on ‘The Eyes of the Night’ by Paloma Pedrero.
Also a huge thanks to Profesor Catherine Boyle for her excellent translation. pic.twitter.com/NiCerYCRcU
— Jorge de Juan García (@jorgedejuan) September 17, 2018
Excelente el trabajo anoche de Teresa Cendón-García @terecendon y Jaime Menéndez en “Los ojos de la noche” de Paloma Pedrero @palomapedrerodi en el @CervantesTheatr dirigidos brillantemente por @SCoxall. No os perdáis la versión, en inglés, hoy. 70 min electrizantes… pic.twitter.com/HHVB8xQyJ5
— Jorge de Juan García (@jorgedejuan) September 15, 2018