A Dream of Armageddon plays at the ADC on Thursday 30th November. With rehearsals well underway, we spoke to Executive Producer, Chris Lazenbatt, Director, Ben Martineau and Assistant Director, Megan Harding to find out a bit more about the process of transforming this H.G.Wells story for the Cambridge stage.
What made you want to adapt A Dream of Armageddon for the stage?
Chris: Firstly, there just isn’t much horror on the ADC stage. Secondly, I saw the opportunity to genderbend in a fun, meaningful way - to take a story that’s already so forward-thinking and put a new twist on it.
Ben: It fascinated me that a piece of work written so early in the 20th century could be so insightful about the future, and the opportunity to build atmosphere and tension in this play is enormous.
Megan: I wasn’t involved in the adapting of the story, but what drew me to the project was the genderswap that Ben and Chris had decided to include. It brings a new interpretation to the dynamic between the two characters. I was also really interested to see how the setting of an alternating reality and dreamscape would be dealt with.
How did you go about the process of adapting the story? Did you encounter any problems along the way?
Ben: The narrative style of the original text lends itself well to adaptation, but we spent a lot of time ensuring that the characters had more of a balanced part to play. One of the biggest challenges was how to deal with the sexism that runs throughout the original - the gender swap highlights this and puts pressure on the audience to consider the assumptions they make about the language they hear.
You have very striking posters - what’s the story behind their design?
Chris: We started off with the inspiration of the 1920s ‘it is warmer/cooler below’ Tube posters and let our designer work from there - there’s just something slightly sinister about them.
How are you finding the rehearsal process? What have your actors brought to the play so far?
Ben: Rehearsals have been great fun, with a lot of focus on physicalization of the characters. Juliet and Amelia have been so enthusiastic and worked incredibly hard to bring such a strange piece to life - the blend of narration with action is unusual but deeply evocative.
Megan: The actors have had a really great understanding of their characters, despite how enigmatic they seem on the page - we worked a lot with both of them to develop a backstory for both roles, which won’t factor into the story onstage, but is really beneficial for them when portraying their characters in the right way. The rehearsals have been a very collaborative process and it has been a lot of fun, if not daunting, to come up with the blocking for a play with such a unique and often static setting, but one that also encompasses a lot of time and space.