Into The West Writer/Director Greg Banks takes us deeper into the heart of his captivating production in our latest blog – it’s all about intimate theatre experiences and the universal power of great story-telling.
“It’s nearly twenty years since Travelling Light first approached me with the idea of telling this beautiful story. Since then the play has been remounted many times and played to audiences as far afield as London, New York and Jamaica, as well as schools and theatres all over the UK. It’s been ten years since I last directed the play in its original form, but during that time I was contacted by a Theatre Director in Canada who felt that the story, with a few changes, would resonate with their Native Canadian population. I was sceptical, but we went ahead and adapted the story with a native writer. Without going into too much detail, the essence of the story was retained and the play has toured to reservations all over Ontario and the response has been extraordinary. It seems that our story, a fairy tale, rooted in the realities of being part of the Traveller community in Ireland echoed and resonated deeply with the experience of the native community in Canada, whose way of life is also being rapidly eroded.
In adapting this tale for the stage, we were reminded of how far we had come from the simple tradition of story-telling that lies at the heart of theatre. Since then we have become even more accustomed to the sophistication of television and the big screen, with their big budgets, stars, rapid editing and complex special effects. We have lost touch with the humanity of the Story Tellers, who have also disappeared with other more traditional ways of life. The small scale and intimate theatre experience is also disappearing. Our challenge is to tell this story, with only three actors, two musicians and a simple set.
Our starting point was the film Into the West. As the Writer/Director of the play, Into the West, I drafted a script reducing the story to the elements I was interested in for starting work on day one. As a team we developed that script; improvising scenes to make them visual and theatrical. Also we chipped away at the script making the text more immediate. And then there was the horse! We tried numerous ways of depicting a large animal on stage and even considered excluding the horse altogether… I’m glad we decided to keep it.
Sometimes a story leaps out at you begging to be told and told again, it captures your mind and your heart. It seems that this is one of those stories. So I am very excited to have the opportunity to direct it afresh, to discover it anew.”
Greg Banks – Writer / Director
*Brought to us by Bristol favourites and Tobacco Factory Theatres co-producers Travelling Light (101 Damatians; Cinderella: A Fairytale), Into The West runs from Wed 29 June – Sat 17 July. To find out more and book tickets visit the full show page.
Posted on 09 June 2016