So why Night of The Living Dead ™? This is the first time you’ve adapted a film, is that right?
It’s a film that we’ve been thinking about for some time now. But it always felt out of reach. Maybe it was too populist, I don’t know. Yes, we have adapted novels in the past, A Farewell to Arms in 2014 and Heart of Darkness in 2018, but film is always in the mix for us. I mean those two novels were adapted into movies, several times, but they were also modernist pieces of writing and that’s what’s different here. But Night of The Living Dead ™is an extraordinary film and it’s a classic in the same ways that Hemingway’s and Conrad’s novels are. So, there is continuity there.
Is there any continuity in terms of the film’s ideas, it’s themes?
For sure. I mean the film came out in 1968 and it feels like a movie that marks the end of the American 1960s dream. From our perspective it’s haunted by the political turmoil of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, the break-up of the family unit – challenging social and family values – the cold war, and whole different set of values around what constitutes community, solving problems as a group. It’s a bleak vision. But it’s also one with a lot of humour, irony, tension – it’s great storytelling and that’s what we are working from. And this connects back to the previous adaptations we have staged. They all have great stories at the centre. And ideas that challenge us politically and socially.
So how are you staging Night of The Living Dead™ ? Why is Remix in the title?
Well, we’re being very faithful to the film. I mean we are showing the whole film in the performance and we re-stage the film in real-time shot for shot as the movie plays. the movie on one screen and our live version on another.
How many shots are there?
Is that possible. How long’s the film?
It’s an hour and a half. We will have to make it possible. Of course, we’ll fail at times, but that will be half the fun of it. It’s an impossible task. We hope the energy of our staging connects to the energy of the film. That something in our live rendition of the film will speak to the original and vice versa, that the film will speak to what we are doing.
So, it’s a conversation?
Yes, but a glorious conversation, one that rides on the coattails of the film’s amazing narrative. The more you engage with the movie the more relevant it seems today. Amid all the current political turmoil that surrounds us. It’s not surprising, really, given that it was made a time of great social and
political change. I mean it has a black protagonist at the centre and he’s the sole person of colour in this white world and then he’s killed right at the end, just when you think he’s going to survive. And it’s the mob that kills him, vigilantes who are gunning down the zombies.
So, this conversation is the re-mix?
Yes, in many ways. It’s re-mixing the live and the filmed, the original and the new. It’s remixed by our engagement with original, by our wresting with it. The task we’ve set ourselves. We are bringing other stuff into the mix as well. Documentary footage from the 60s, TV adverts, that kind of thing. History is in the mix here like it is with a lot of our work. Simon Wainwright, who is a co-director of the company, has been making some great video material for the projection in the piece. So that’s mixed in as well.
Does the audience need to have seen the film?
No, I don’t think so. If they have not seen the film, they will still recognise the story. People holed up in a house, trying to survive being attacked by a horde of the living dead, not pulling together, the lone survivor who is mistakenly and tragically killed at the end. It’s great stuff. But we kind of already know it. And that’s why we enjoy it so much.
So, are you bringing the usual imitating the dog technology into play?
Well, we have four cameras on stage for the filming and we’ll be using documentary footage projected into an amazing set designed by our long-term collaborator Laura Hopkins. It will be a frantic and messy space, but there will be moments of beauty and tension and politics. Just like the film.
And there will be two directors.
Yes, I’ll be working with Pete Brooks. We’ve been collaborating for years now. Pete’s great at dealing with larger stage picture, solving all the problems that the film presents to us in our re-staging of it. I am better at the detail, working with the performers – so we’re a good match. That’s why it works so well. We’ll need to be on our toes this time. It’s one hell of a task we’ve set ourselves. But it will be very exciting and great fun and that’s what I hope the piece is as well. But with a kick to it. One that leaves us thinking. That’s all that we want from all the work we make.
Find out more and book tickets here.
Syndicated Interview with Andrew Quick on Night of The Living Dead ™ – Remix November 2019.