Today sees the public launch of ILIAD – our new large-scale collaboration with National Theatre Wales. The project is our third work for NTW, since the company’s inauguration. It continues our attempts to reactivate classic and historic narrative texts in contemporary Wales, as reflective or resonant situations in the present. And will hopefully push forward some of the propositions we initiated across both The Persian, which we located within the landscape of a Ministry of Defence training range in the Brecon Beacons for NTW’s inaugural season of 2010, and our most recent collaboration Coriolan/us, commissioned and realised in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company and London 2012.
Over the coming months Mike Pearson and I will be shaping our ILIAD. It’s a project that will be defined by our durational attempts to stage Christopher Logue’s epic poem War Music – a striking poetic reimagining, that he worked on for over forty years, of the main events in Homer’s account of the last years of the Trojan War.
Logue’s text unfolds across five separate books, which he published between 1981 and 2005. And we plan to perform it verbatim and in its entirety. Initially as a series of separate and consecutive episodes, then followed by two extraordinary omnibus performances of the entire work – the first all day, and the second overnight.
We have never worked directly with the text of a poem in this way before. And importantly, this poem has never before been staged in its entirety. But we will, inevitably, find out exactly what sort of event and work this massive task enables and adds up to.
To begin, here is a copy of the first short video ‘taster’ we made to send out earlier this morning. It combines footage shot on the coast next to Llanelli, where we will perform the work, with a couple of lines from Logue’s own preamble for his text, that we have drawn out as a working subtitle for the project as whole…