Tiara Partsch; Credit: Alfonso Salguiero

Chronicle.lu recently got the opportunity to talk with the director, Tony Kingston, and assistant director, Tiara Partsch, of the upcoming BGT English-language play “David's RedHaired Death", scheduled for mid-September 2020 at the International School of Luxembourg (ISL).

The play, written by US writer Sherry Kramer and first performed in 1992, is a moving story of the love between two women and the way that one man's death can affect it. "David's RedHaired Death" is the BGT English Theatre Company’s second annual showcase play for trainee actors, following the success of last year's performance of “Wolves Are Coming For You".

Tony Kingston, director and co-founder of the BGT (founded in Berlin in 1991 before moving to Luxembourg), explained that whilst "every project raises different challenges", the aim remains unchanged: "to build CV experience and give exposure to younger actors in Luxembourg". He added that such a project, which is set to be an annual occurrence, offers the possibility to experiment, to "explor[e] new ways of directing outside school theatre".

This year's performance showcases the talents of two Luxembourgish actresses, Cindy Bloes and Lina Peller, as well as 17-year-old assistant director Tiara Partsch, who is set to study theatre directing in Michigan from September. Regarding casting, Tony already knew the main actresses as students; Cindy starred in BGT's performance of "Little Women", whilst Lina was the designer on "Wolves Are Coming For You". After reading Sherry Kramer's play "by chance" and hearing the script in Cindy and Lina's voices, he knew exactly who should play the leading ladies in "David's RedHaired Death". The fact that this year's actresses are slightly older (in their 20s) and more experienced than those in last year's play "helps perception and characterisation". By March, both Cindy (as Jean) and Lina (as Marilyn) were on board, joined by fellow local talent Tiara Partsch as assistant director in April 2020. Tiara had previously worked together with BGT on "Charles Dickens, the Best of Men; the Worst of Men" and at the Festival of English-language School Theatre (FEST) earlier this year.  

Explaining how she got into directing, Tiara explained that it "just happened". The 17-year-old started off as a musical theatre actress, who then tried her hand at choreography, blocking (staging) and eventually director - experiences which she "really enjoyed". In her last years as a student at the ISL, Tiara was involved in various theatre projects and gained some limited experience of directing. When Tony contacted her about being assistant director on "David's RedHaired Death", she saw her opportunity to "learn more, watch other directors and get lessons". Although "assistant director" is a broad term, Tiara's experience on this play has given her a real "taste of directing", a chance to make her voice heard. Tony explained that, on the whole, there has been a lot of idea sharing among the cast and crew, with "Tiara at the heart of that".

Discussing rehearsals, which began in early-July, Tiara described the "interesting approach" of taking the emphasis away from blocking and first going through the script in detail with the actresses. Such an approach is "beneficial" when faced with such an "intricate piece of writing". "Staging spawns from spontaneity", she added. One difference between last year's and this year's project, according to Tony, is that "Wolves" was very technique-based, whereas this time there are only two characters (rather than several) and "the play is multi-layered". .

On the theatre scene in Luxembourg, Tiara praised the possibility of seeing "beautiful shows for quite cheap prices, especially for students". She encouraged people (particularly budding actors, directors, designers, etc.) to "take more advantage" of these possibilities and "go and see as much theatre as you can". She added that reading theory helped her with directing and to "create [her] own perspective".  

Like many of the arts, theatre has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. BGT had originally planned to put on its performance of "David's RedHaired Death" at the Théâtre du Centaure in Luxembourg-ville, but was out of a venue when the theatre cancelled all outside productions this year due to the pandemic. The ISL, which hosted last year's play, then gave the theatre company the green light, although things remain uncertain and the cast and crew are keeping an eye out for alternative venues should the situation worsen. Worst-case scenario, the team will perform and stream it from their rehearsal room. In the meantime, rehearsals and production are continuing as planned for the mid-September performance. 

All going well, "David's RedHaired Death" will be performed at the ISL Studio on Thursday 10 and Friday 11 September at 19:00 and Saturday 12 September 2020 at 14:30 and 19:00. Tickets cost €15 (€10 for students) and can be reserved exclusively via email: the.bgt.lux@gmail.com. In light of the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus, no advance payments will be accepted; instead, attendees can pay at the door. At present, it looks like a maximum of around 50 people per performance will be permitted to attend.