Garance Marneur, Overall Winner of the Linbury Biennial Prize for Stage Design in 2007 for designs she created for Brecht’s Turandot, will be revealing the results of her winning commission at Hampstead Theatre in its UK premiere on 8 September 2008.
Turandot was Brecht’s final play, written shortly before his death in 1956. Originally found in the book of traditional Persian stories, One Thousand and One Days, the story of Turandot has been told in many different guises, most famously in Puccini’s opera. Brecht’s imagining of the comic parable was influenced by his experience of Germany in the build-up to the Second World War. This lively new version by Edward Kemp is directed by Anthony Clark and will feature Chipo Chung (Talking to Terrorists, The Overwhelming) as the legendary Princess Turandot and Gerard Murphy (Associate Artist; RSC and Birmingham Rep, Batman Begins) as the Emperor.
For Turandot, Marneur has designed a set and costumes which draw from three distinct periods : 18th century China, Brecht’s 1940s and the pop culture of modern Britain. The set is an abstract structure based upon references of 18th century Chinese cotton markets and 1940s German propaganda posters. The theme of the three periods is continued in the costumes and suggests their place in the hierarchy and their relationship to power, from traditional and imperial costumes through to 1940s gangsters and modern politicians. By overlapping these three periods and their respective locations, one can analyse their similarities and notice that history repeats itself, universally.
Regularly produced in Europe, the play has never previously been performed in the UK. Translator Edward Kemp’s adaptations have earned him great acclaim, notably his version of Lessing’s Nathan the Wise for Hampstead Theatre in 2008. The only one of Brecht’s plays which he himself described as a comedy, Turandot focuses upon the intelligentsia’s complicity with authoritarianism and inability to stand up to regressive forces.
Garance Marneur was announced as the Overall Winner of the Linbury Biennial Prize for Stage Design in November 2007, and has since been working closely with the creative team at Hampstead Theatre to realise her winning design for Turandot.
The Linbury Biennial, founded in 1987 by Lady Anya Sainsbury, is the only prize of its kind and gives recently graduated stage designers an unparalleled opportunity to work with professional theatre companies and to collaborate with writers, directors and technical teams at a crucial stage in their careers.
Anthony Clark, Artistic Director, Hampstead Theatre said: “Having been offered the opportunity to participate in the prestigious Biennial Linbury Prize for Stage Design, I found it a challenging and inspiring experience to work with three talented, recently graduated designers on Brecht’s version of Turandot. Garance Marneur’s intriguing design of this political satire, and the generosity of support from the Linbury Trust, have made this production possible.”