Emily Brontë’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights has inspired many different adaptions and other art forms since its initial publication in 1847. It has inspired everything from a Kate Bush song to a Hindi movie and a Death Cab for Cutie track, to name a few. Australia’s very own, shake & stir theatre co will also be staging their own adaptation of this gothic love story in a production that promises to be both broody and faithful to the original source material. The AU Review sat down with Nick Skubij, the adaptor and director of this adaption of Wuthering Heights to learn more about Heathcliff and Cathy’s turbulent relationship.
Can you briefly introduce yourself? How long have you been working in the arts industry?
I’m Nick Skubij – I’m the Co-Artistic Director of shake & stir theatre co and the adaptor and director of Wuthering Heights. I have been working in the industry for approx. 15 years as an actor, producer, director and writer.
Can you briefly describe your adaptation of Wuthering Heights?
My adaptation of Wuthering Heights is a (relatively) faithful, distilled version of the entire novel. Unlike a couple of adaptations out there, I have chosen to present the whole story, not just the first generation. My production is sharp, strange, terrifying, romantic and beautiful – just like the novel.
Wuthering Heights is an adaptation of Emily Brontë’s gothic novel. Do you have a favourite quote or scene from the book?
My favourite quote from the play belongs to Heathcliff and comes at the end of act one. He states “You said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”. It sums up the all-consuming nature of love lost perfectly and oh so dramatically.
In your opinion, how true is your adaptation of Wuthering Heights compared to the novel?
I aimed for my adaptation to be true to the original novel but not slavishly so. I think that you can’t really present an adapted work which is a 100% extraction of the source material – there needs to be some sort of treatment to give it a unique voice. I hope that it gets the tick of approval from the purists but contains certain unexpected moments that surprise.
Who is your favourite character from Wuthering Heights? Why did you choose this one?
My favourite character is our Narrator, Nelly Dean. I find her role in the whole story fascinating. She reminds me of a ringmaster in a human circus, pulling the strings and guiding the audience through her version of events. I think that a lot of people would consider that Heathcliff is the villain of the story but what about Nelly? Maybe the real devil wears a housemaid’s outfit…
Why do you think audiences should come and see your adaptation of Wuthering Heights?
If audiences want to see some fantastic actors, a great story and some absolutely stunning technical moments, they should definitely come and see this production. shake & stir has developed a national audience who have come to expect ultra-high production values and this one raises the bar. Of course, anyone who has ever loved with every atom of their being might find a bit to relate to…
Do you have a favourite scene in the production? What’s it about and why did you choose this one?
I really like the end of act two. This is where we pull out all the stops theatrically and where we finally find out why Heathcliff has acted the way he has. I think it is a really nice and surprising moment for Heathcliff – we should think twice about what we thought of him throughout the story.
The novel, Wuthering Heights has inspired everything from a Kate Bush song to a Hindi movie and a Death Cab for Cutie track, to name a few. Can you name your favourite adaptation of this work or a work that was inspired by the book? Why did you pick this one?
I like the 2011 film adaptation by Andrea Arnold for its moody capture of the environment. This adaptation is not very text heavy but it shows the mood of the piece brutally and beautifully though close up extended shots of the characters being battered by the elements.
The show features Ross Balbuziente, Tim Dashwood, Nelle Lee, Linden Wilkinson, Gemma Willing and yourself. How did the actors prepare for their roles?
I think actors prep is very personal and each actor has their own methods. One thing I insisted on in the rehearsal room was to speak the language in a way that each actor could relate to on a personal level. I wanted to avoid put-on accents and over-annunciation and for the actors to bring their own personalities and real truth to their characters.
Originally published on 17 March 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/interviews/the-au-interview-director-nick-skubij-talks-about-lost-love-and-a-new-adaptation-of-emily-brontes-classic-wuthering-heights/
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