Epic play restructured

One of history’s most famous struggles for power and survival is re-imagined as a court-room drama in the Globe Theatre’s production of Mary Stuart.
Adapted from 18th century playwright Friedrich Schiller’s epic five-act German play, by Dunedin writer and director Keith Scott, Mary Stuart traces the final week of the Scottish Queen’s life.
The original play was very long, so Scott’s rewrite removed unneccesary long speeches and restructured it into eight episodic scenes.
‘‘The original play contained a lot of exposition and backstory about the history between Elizabeth 1 and Mary Stuart, but I think most modern audiences have a feel for that,’’ Scott said.
‘‘In fact, the story contains a powerful court-room drama — so I decided to focus mostly on Mary’s trial,’’ he said.
‘‘And, as such, it contains many interesting themes in modern political terms.
‘‘The play asks some important questions, such as how far can a government go in order to make itself secure, and can an act of tyranny be called justice?.’’
The Globe Theatre’s adaptation of Mary Stuart celebrates both the political and historical nature of the story through its extraordinary costumes, designed and created by Dunedin’s Charmian Smith.
‘‘We have placed our male characters in business suits to convey the message that the play is about politics, but our two Renaissance queens are in full regalia,’’ Scott said.
In creating the costumes for the queens, Ms Smith worked from some of the major portraits of the time.
The play features Terry MacTavish as Elizabeth, Helen Fearnley as Mary Stuart, and Emer Lyons as lady-in-waiting Jane Kenney. The male cast is led by James Tregonning asLord Burleigh, Paul Ellicott as Robert Dudley, and Nigel Ensor (Earl of Leicester) as George Talbot (Earl of Shrewsbury). – Mary Stuart will be staged at the Globe Theatre from tonight until October 8, as part of Arts Festival Dunedin.