Ted Hughes’ Gaudete comes to Unity

gaudete book cover

One of the great things about Unity Theatre is the organisations ability to shape shift.  One minute we’re helping to stage the #PentecostPageant with our Cathedral partners, the next we’re announcing a piece of work in which an Anglican clergyman is abducted by spirits and taken into another world.

OBRA Theatre Company’s GAUDETE comes to Unity in March 2017 but we’ve announced the show in time for Physical Fest, alongside a very limited advance offer.  For the duration of Physical Fest all tickets are just £8, use code Gaudete.

Gaudete is a thrilling stage adaptation of Ted Hughes’ poetic novel by OBRA Theatre Company  performed by an international ensemble of 8 performers.  Seven years in the making this extraordinary piece takes Hughes’ words as a starting point to create a magical and surreal piece of physical theatre.

I wanted something between a primitive painting, a mosaic and a slightly speeded up early silent film where things are simultaneously comic, horrible and beautiful

Ted Hughes

Conceived as a trilogy (following Hughes’ own structure for the novel) Unity will be sharing the first two parts on 17th and 18th March (both parts being performed each night in a double bill).  The story follows Nicholas Lumb, an Anglican Minister from the North of England who is abducted by spirits, duplicated and returned to the world a changed man.

Act 1 (the prologue) begins with the abduction of Lumb, culminating in the creation of the duplicate in order to take the priests place in the world.  The original Lumb remains in the ‘other world’, while the changeling undergoes a bloody baptism in an abattoir before being sent out to fulfil Lumb’s duties in his small Yorkshire parish.

Act 2 (Gaudete the last day) follows the events of the last day in the life of Lumb’s changeling, where he has interpreted the role of ‘ministering the gospel of love’ in his own way.  The duplicate has organised the women of the WI into a love society with the purpose of fathering a new Messiah. The act follows the collision of multiple worlds as the duplicate’s grip on his new life deteriates and the elemental and earthly powers begin exterting their forces.  Action shifts between moments of intimate and precise physical characterisation and explosions of energy as the lines are blurred between the present and other possible realities.

I began reading Ted Hughes Gaudete one cold winter morning outside a café in Rome in 2005.  Four hours later I came up fro air, totally transformed.  Hughes had taken me somewhere completely unexpected …..

…. I want to share the beauty of Hughes’ language.  To explore the power of language, the strength and fragility of one person sharing their inner life and the excitement of the moment when a group of performers lift us to a different and unexpected place.  As we live in a culture of dumbing down and the systematic deadening of sensibilities, words and actions which challenge, surprise and transform are more necessary than ever. Director Kate Hannah Papi

Gaudete was first imagined and written as a film treatment in 1964, but was never realised.  Hughes returned to the narrative in the 70’s turning it into a novel in verse.  The original text is both a deeply personal work and an epic tale fuelled with a driving passion.  And it wont be the only work in Unity’s spring season with a poetic influence …but more of that anon!

The show comes to Unity on  17th and 18th March.  The early bird offer (£8) runs out on 28 May 2016!  Tickets and more here.





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