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RSC to première Robin French’s Crooked Dances

Published: 9 March 2019

Crooked Dances, a “bold” work by playwright and screenwriter Robin French, is to have its première at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford.

The play features a journalist, Katy, who is desperate for her big break. An interview in Paris with world-famous concert pianist Silvia de Zingaro looks to be the chance she is waiting for. But the interview does not go well. Katy feels there is a bigger story. She finds that Silvia has a collection of mystical books and an apparent fixation with composer Erik Satie. A mysterious night-time encounter with the pianist may well give her the scoop she's looking for...

French said, “having felt ready to write a new play, I approached the RSC, knowing that literary manager Pippa Hill has an extraordinary talent for unlocking writers. Sure enough, the first inspiration for the play came. I was on a train, listening to a playlist on Spotify. When I heard Erik Satie's ‘Crooked Dances’ for the first time, I felt a strong intuition that that was where the treasure was buried.

“The play that evolved melds my fascination with Satie's music with the preoccupations of our 21st century digital society. I'm delighted to be working with the brilliant director Elizabeth Freestone on this, my first commission with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and I can't wait to share it with audiences.”

Freestone added, “from reading the first few lines in Robin's play, I was hooked. He creates a funny, vivid and spell-binding atmosphere as the extraordinary story of Silvia's life unfolds. Nothing you are told is quite as straightforward as it seems and nothing you see is quite what you expect.

“It's a fantastic challenge to realise the ideas and images Robin is exploring—the power of music, the nature of time, the fragility of real human connection. Directing such a powerful and provocative new play for the RSC is an exciting prospect. We'll be using projection, live music and possibly a few surprises to create a full and theatrical experience for the audience.”

Crooked Dances will run in the studio theatre The Other Place at Stratford from Thursday 20 June until Saturday 13 July. Press night will be Wednesday 26 June.

The RSC has also announced it will stage a “thought-provoking” one-hour performance inspired by the first English novel by William Baldwin, Beware the Cat.

It tells a tale of witchcraft, religious controversy and talking cats in a bid to help us imagine what animals might say about the world if they had the ability to talk.

Professor Frances Babbage from the University of Sheffield's School of English and Dr Rachel Stenner from the School of English at the University of Sussex have worked with Terry O'Connor from UK theatre ensemble Forced Entertainment to adapt the novel into a theatre performance.

Beware the Cat can be seen in The Other Place on Saturday 6 July at 5PM.

Steve Orme