Behind the scenes at St Albans Abbey Theatre

Marc Ozall and Lucy Crick,

Marc Ozall and Lucy Crick, - Credit: Archant

Audiences at the Company of Ten’s upcoming production of Tom & Viv are to be given a rare insight into the mysteries of the theatrical process.

In director Tim Hoyle’s staging of the play about TS Eliot’s disastrous first marriage, much of the activity that usually takes place behind the scenes, including some costume and prop changes, will take place at the side of the stage.

The minimal set in the Abbey Theatre Studio has no wings – so actors waiting to enter will often be in full view of the audience – and, unusually, raked seating is positioned against the far wall giving a clear view into the lighting and sound boxes.

The aim of the approach is to constantly remind the audience that although the play is loosely based on fact, it is primarily a piece of theatre.

Said Tim: “The play is inspired by real people and events, but the playwright, Michael Hastings, freely admitted that many of the scenes are invented or involve characters who were not there at the time.


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“By showing the audience some of the processes that are typically hidden from view, we are making it clear that this is a drama not a documentary. We hope it will also make the play even more exciting to watch.”

Tom & Viv explores the doomed relationship between the American poet Thomas Stearns Eliot and his aristocratic English wife, the vivacious but emotionally unstable Vivienne Haigh-Wood.

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Performances take place at the Abbey Theatre Studio at 8pm from tonight (24) to Saturday (26), at 2.30pm on Sunday (27) and at 8pm again from next Wednesday, April 30, to Saturday, May 3.

To book tickets go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 01727 857861.

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