It’s 23 April, Shakespeare’s birthday.
In Brixton, Nora and Dora Chance – twin chorus girls born and bred south of the river – are celebrating their 70th birthday. Over the river in Chelsea, their father and greatest actor of his generation Melchior Hazard turns 100 on the same day. As does his twin brother Peregrine. If, in fact, he’s still alive. And if, in truth, Melchior is their real father after all?
A big, bawdy tangle of theatrical joy and heartbreak, Wise Children is a celebration of show business, family, forgiveness and hope. Expect show girls and Shakespeare, sex and scandal, music, mischief and mistaken identity – and butterflies by the thousand.
Mirabelle Gremaud, who plays the part of Young Nora, recently chatted with LondonTheatre1.com about Wise Children.
Q: What were your first thoughts when reading the script of Wise Children?
Mirabelle: A truly satisfying feeling. Angela Carter’s Novel is really dense, packed full of surprises, unforeseen developments, and at the heart, a complex family story.
I was wondering how all the narrative could be condensed in a play, but Emma has remained truthful to the soul of the novel, and keep the details and colors for each of the characters you discover throughout the play.
As I’m French, I would say “Chapeau!”.
Q: Can you tell us about the production?
Mirabelle: Music. Acting. Dance. Stunning scenography. Emotions. Magic of theatre. Surprises.
The show is really hard to describe just in words. You have to come and see it!
Q: You play the part of Young Nora – Can you tell us about her?
Mirabelle: Young Nora is really excited about every instant of life. She is a passionate child who lives each emotion deeply and has no shame in revealing her feelings. Her excitement is translated into her physicality as well, in which I can play with my acrobatics skills.
She obviously loves her twin Dora who is, with Grandma Chance, her entire world. They support and love each other so much! If I had to choose the natural elements to describe her, I would say wind and fire.
I am someone with a lot of energy but my emotions are generally more calm and tender – I almost never lose my temper. This character is, therefore, a real challenge to play, but something I can really get my teeth into, and I am looking forward to exploring the role further and continuing to surprise myself with it.
Q: Can you tell us about rehearsals and ‘the team’?
Mirabelle: This is my first time working with Emma Rice and the incredible cast of Wise Children. In the rehearsal process, every single thing was new and unexpected. During the first weeks, I struggled to sleep, because of excitement. Waking up in the morning, going to “work” – singing, dancing, acting and playing my instrument, felt simply magic and rewarding.
In the work, I learnt a lot just observing the actors and the musicians in the way they enter the room, familiarise themselves with their characters or instruments and then start to play and explore. Playfulness is certainly a key word to describe the rehearsal process.
The team is fantastic. Really diverse backgrounds and energies. I think Emma couldn’t have chosen a better title for her company. Everyone in the team: actors, musicians and production is serious and wise about the work, without losing any of the lightness of the child we all have inside.
Q: What thoughts on performing at The Old Vic?
Mirabelle: The magic continues for me. I can’t believe it! I’m touching wood as I am writing those words.
In this theatre, I feel like an ant at the foot of a massive tree. It is a real pleasure and privilege, but also a wonderful challenge in the way I have to project my voice and movement to reach every audience member. I am looking forward to the five weeks run before we go on tour.
Q: Why should everyone get along to see Wise Children?
Mirabelle: Because it is a contemporary theatre play, that has a surprising plot and amazing cast!
The use of the dance and music is clever – it supports and enhances the story.
The theme of the play is intriguing and unusual. We’ve all heard of family stories and issues, but that one is like a firework with all its sparkles, noise, power and magnificent beauty.
Mirabelle Gremaud (Young Nora). Mirabelle has worked with Acrojou (circus/theatre), Urban Conceptz Theatre (Dance/theatre) and with performance artist Georgina Starr. Other work under her label ‘Le Mirabellier’, includes a solo dance piece at the Resolution Festival 2018 (The Place) and the Fun Fatale Festival 2018, Prague. She graduated from the Accademia Teatro Dimitri and has a post-graduate from the Laban Conservatory of Dance. Her performance involves elements from circus, acrobatics, contortion and hand-balancing.
An Old Vic and Wise Children production
Co-produced by the Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Oxford Playhouse and York Theatre Royal.
Booking period: 8 October – 10 November 2018
Running time: TBC
Age guidance: 14+