Monday, January 20, 2014

Now We Are Pope. Frederick Rolfe in Venice

It has been a long time since Frederick Rolfe has been on the stage. Longer still since his life has inspired a dramatist to create a new piece. So if you are in London in March it will be well worth checking out this new production, Now We Are Pope, which will also be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe later in the year. Martin Foreman is a writer whose themes often touch on sexuality, literary subjects and religion, previous productions have included Tadzio Speaks in which Thomas Mann's beautiful boy returns to the Lido as an old man, so it seems wholly appropriate that he should be turning his pen towards the life of Frederick Rolfe and in particular Rolfe's final years in Venice.

Martin says: "Although the play itself is a work of imagination, all the incidents referred to in Now We Are Pope either took place in real life or are taken from Rolfe's fiction. Furthermore, much of the play consists of quotations from his letters and novels. Among the many sources consulted in writing the play, most notable is Miriam J Benkovitz's Frederick Rolfe: Baron Corvo; Robert Scoble's recently published Raven was also of help. An annotated version of Now We Are Pope will be available later in 2014."


J said...

Oh, Donald Weeks--who hated Benkovitz with a Corvine passion--must be rolling in his grave to see her cited as "most notable"!

Martin Foreman said...

(Thanks, Callum, for writing about this.)

As the author, I have to admit that I hadn't read Weeks when I began writing the play, so most of the text is based on Benkovitz, Symons and Rolfe's own writings (Hadrian, the Venice letters, Nicholas Crabbe etc). I am finally reading the Weeks and finding it fascinating and, because we are still rehearsing, there is the possibility that the odd anecdote or fact may make its way into the final text.

I don't think that the play will suffer for not having consulted all the sources. The material I am using is more than enough and the problem in a short (45 mins) play is giving a rounded version of a life that was so packed with incident and personality. Much has had to be dropped and (hopefully skilfull) use of allusion will be combined with brief programme notes to give the audience an idea of some of the events.

The run at The London Theatre in March will give us some idea as to how successful we've been - and the more Corvinites who turn up and criticise (constructively, please!), the more we will be able to revise, if necessary, before a second London run and the Edinburgh outing.

See you there? More information at arberyproductions.couk

Who links to my website?