Find out more about this week's Corpus Playroom show, 'Sol', a new drama written by Ella Palmer.
Sol has been a labour of love for writer, Ella Palmer, and is over a year in the making. Inspired by her time in Paraguay and the rich culture of this little-known South American country, she was prompted to create a queer love story infused with Guaraní myths and monsters. But she explains ‘We [the Production Team] hope the themes of the piece resonate beyond the context that inspired it. It was originally based on South America, but the world of Sol is its own entity that speaks to experiences of struggle in the face of destruction and the long-lasting impacts of colonialism.’
Struck by the intense heat and drought that hit Paraguay in the Summer of 2022, Ella interwove questions posed by the climate and ecological crisis into the play, exploring how humans might react to the scenes of environmental damage we are faced with more and more. This is a topic close to the writer’s heart and she is in the process of encouraging sustainable change within student theatre. Whilst Sol presents a pretty bleak picture of the future, it also explores what hope can be found in collaboration and empathy and how we might find a way to tackle this emergency and still leave space for joy in the process. As the old man (a guiding figure for the two young protagonists) warns: 'you cannot expect things to remain forever. You must take action whilst you have the chance.’ We still have the chance to make a difference and this play provides a timely reminder of that.
Beyond the difficult themes addressed in the piece, Sol presents the challenge of representing a magical and evocative world on stage. Kate Austin, the Director, has risen to this challenge, finding ways to present ‘the movement of monsters and magic from both sides of Corpus Playroom’.
Employing lighting, set, and ensemble to great effect, she and Assistant Director, Jennifer Chen, have created a whole other world. They invite the audience to step into ‘the sun dappled square’ and witness the tension between change and stability play out beneath the heat of the sun. Kate elaborates, ‘the sun – as in the title – is incredibly important to the show. Moving between day and night allows for Sol and Bea to explore their relationship beyond the eyes of Sol’s father, but it is also the sun beating down which makes the drought and destruction so unbearable, and we’re showing this decay on the stage with sand. We hope the production will be uplifting and that it also showcases Sol’s frustrations and anxieties about the changing world around her.’
Essential to the creation of this world is sound and music, designed by Hei Yan who says, ‘Sol’s soundscapes ground the play in Latin America. Paraguayan polkas and guaranias suffuse the town in which Sol is set and features arrangements from harpist Félix Pérez Cardozo and classical guitarist Agustín Barrios Mangoré, both Paraguayan musicians.’ Hei Yan has incorporated fluctuating sonic moods to reflect and augment the different moments of the plot. ‘In doing so, the sound worlds of Sol express the emotional inner worlds of the characters, their sufferings and tribulations, and their extraordinary resilience.’
Sol runs at the Corpus Playroom at 9:30pm from the 15th-18th March. You can get your tickets here to witness this magical storytelling, and exploration of love in the face of destruction.
Artwork by Anna Piper-Thompson