We are happy to announce
that the performance of this heartily acclaimed piece is coming back on stage soon. With our original cast working on the material since our first run, new faces, a musical score to complement it.
If you were there, you’ll want to see it again. And if not, this is the version that we have all been waiting for. This time around, the stage is set in the red velvet twilight of our Sands Films cinema.
composer – Nic Rowley
director – Jeremy Browne
It is commonly agreed that our English translation by Angela Livingstone best reveals both the purpose and musicality of Tsvetaevas work.
“Angela (…) is astonishingly successful in recreating the varied rhythms and striking word-play of the original” – R.Chandler
An outline by Kristin Milward
Marina Tsvetaeva was one of the quartet of truly great Russian poets of the twentieth century (the others being Mandelstam, Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova), whose lives and works were tragically shaped by the Russian Revolution. In despair, on her return to Soviet Russia in 1941 – following exile in Prague and then Paris – she hanged herself, after learning of her husband’s death at the hands of the Soviet secret police.
She had thrown in her lot with the losing side, the Whites, but the prevailing spirit of her nature and her work was, if anything, revolutionary. Certainly anarchic. Her contempt for the bourgeois nature of the burghers of Hamlin is constantly in evidence, but in her version of the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, the rats are Bolsheviks. Having burrowed their way into the heart of Hamlin, by degrees they adopt the prevailing attitudes of aggrandisement and greed, until they are almost synonymous with the burghers themselves.
The Piper – the musician – observes no law except that of the supremacy of Art. When the town councillors refuse him the agreed prize for the extermination of the rats – the Burgomaster’s daughter – he retaliates by leading the town’s children to the pond, where they drown.
The poem mixes legend with dazzling invention. It thunders and roars like a river. We’ve included excerpts in Russian, so that audiences can hear the music of Tsvetaeva’s verse, even if they can’t understand it. Reluctantly, we’ve had to cut some of the more arcane or – to an English ear – impenetrable references, as we didn’t want to interrupt the understanding of the text, or its drive.
The Ratcatcher had to wait for a long time to be published in Russia. Here, it is unknown. I don’t understand a word of Russian, but even in translation, it dazzles with its drama and verve and astonishing daring.