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Purple Haze

As a striking Norwegian drama takes to the stage in the Project Arts Centre, Elizabeth Beecham speaks to UCD alumna Edwina Casey about her directing of Purple

If your last interaction with the dramatic arts was in the form of Leaving Certificate set texts then perhaps you should take a trip to Temple Bar’s Project Arts Centre to see Purple, a play by highly acclaimed Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse. Thankfully British playwright David Harrower has translated it into English for those whose Norwegian may be rusty. Fosse himself has described its style as “extreme realism”, and the action centres around a group of teenagers in band, rehearsing in an old, abandoned factory.

An exploration of adolescent angst drew UCD alumna Edwina Casey to direct the piece. Casey is now a seasoned director, and explains to Otwo how her time with UCD’s Dramsoc awakened in her a desire to delve into the directorial aspect of theatre. One can feel Casey’s warmth as she recollects the creative hub of Dramsoc. It was there that her emerging talent was nurtured, and she enjoyed a freedom to work on projects that she became passionate about. These experiences ultimately shaped her career ambitions, and upon completing her degree in English and Classics she chose to pursue directing.

Her next move was to the Gate Theatre, where she worked as an assistant director and endured a “baptism of fire” that proved to be a fantastic learning curve.

Casey decided to develop on these practical experiences and was accepted to the directorial programme of the prestigious London Academy of Music and Drama. The twelve-month intensive course offers only two spaces annually and allowed her “the run of the school, to go and work with the actors and the technicians.” Her greatest lesson from LAMDA was, she believes, relating with the actors on deeper artistic level. While the play centres on angst and darker emotions its director represents a quietly inspiring Irish creative, realising her ambitions to produce visceral, intriguing work, which can only be a positive for Dublin’s theatrical landscape. The play centres on a band rehearsal and the dynamics between the band members and the drummer’s girlfriend. “The play is all about teenagers … and the codes of behaviour that you experience as a teenager,” Casey believes. Thematically it touches on grief, miscommunication and the redemptive power of love – fertile ground for any director no doubt. With no character descriptions or detail “apart from the words on the page,”  Casey’s interpretation is bound to be unique.

One senses that Casey has a distinct confidence in her own vision, which will make Purple an engaging and deeply memorable experience for any audience.

Purple is running at the Project Arts Centre, Temple Bar between February 21st – March 3rd. Tickets are priced at €8 – €12.