Interview: Lu Kemp, director of Bondagers
Sue Glover's Scottish play following the lives of six women comes to Edinburgh's Lyceum
What attracted you to Bondagers?
It’s a brilliant piece of storytelling. The characters are beautifully drawn. It gives lots of room to the creatives. It is a play which allows me to cast six women in leading roles, and we have a force of female acting talent in Scotland.
What has given the script a continued life?
It embraces the rich, oral storytelling tradition and poetic language of Scots, and celebrates a lost moment of Scottish history. To my mind Bondagers is not so much a play about national identity as about our relationship to the land we stand upon, and the tension between bondage and freedom, which is true of humans everywhere no matter what their nationality.
Would you call it a feminist play?
The play articulates a forgotten moment of female working history and gives strong voice to six women. But it is a powerful play about humans, who happen to be women. The reason we label it feminist is because a play with six women on stage, or, indeed, which places women as the heroes of the piece, is still, even now, unusual.
Perhaps a historical play?
Glover is very clear that it is not a historical document. It is a living, breathing, theatrical proposition. It embraces a panoply of styles, seemingly referencing Greek theatre, abstract theatre, modern dance. It’s a very generous piece of work.
What makes the Lyceum the right place for this production?
The Lyceum has fantastic depth as a space: this play is set in a world where you walk outside and see for miles. It’s about women who, by hand, turned over field upon field of earth. It’s about the horizon being way ahead in the distance and the land stretching back behind you. We can play that in any space, but the Lyceum gives us the depth of image to work on.
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 22 Oct--Sat 15 Nov.