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Photo Maxine Neon Thompson

Emily Carding as Caliban. Photo Maxine Neon Thompson

Local writer making waves abroad

Caliban’s Codex is a play written and produced by local scriptwriter John Knowles and his theatre production company, It’s Not Us. HOT’s Zelly Restorick asks him about the inspiration for his latest work and how it was chosen to be performed at The Prague Fringe Festival 2018.

Caliban’s Codex is currently in development with Emily Carding of Brite Theatre. This monologue explores magic, man’s abuse of the environment and Caliban’s personal abuse. The play is due to be showcased in May 2018 in Hastings and then premiered at the Prague Fringe Festival.

‘There is no welcome here for you, your kind.
Mankind, for there is nothing kind in man.’

Tell us about your new play, Caliban’s Codex. What was your inspiration? 

Caliban’s Codex is a monologue, written in iambic pentameter, based on the character of Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I was also inspired by Margaret Atwood’s Hag Seed and in particular the notion of what happens to the various characters once Prospero leaves the island. In Atwood’s book, the various protagonists are asked to consider what happens after the play and in several of the imagined outcomes, Caliban is kept as a slave and returns with Prospero to be sold on as a freak of nature. In my imagining, Caliban remains on ‘his’ island and having been abused by mankind, his mother, Sycorax and Prospero, decides to gather the charred remains of Prospero’s books of magic and to finally cast a spell which will make the island disappear forever from man’s view. The play examines both personal abuse and the abuse of nature by man – and places the abused Caliban as a magical eco-warrior.

How did you get to be included in the Prague Fringe Festival?

I was persuaded to apply to the Prague Fringe by Emily Carding, who plays Caliban (normally a male role) and who has previously been a recipient of pretty much all of the awards going at The Prague Fringe Festival with her former show, Richard III. Prague Fringe differs from a lot of theatre festivals in that you have to apply and they only accept a small number of shows from across Europe, so it is quite a privilege to be accepted. Strangely this year there are a number of shows going from Hastings including Emily’s one woman production of Hamlet* and a new play by Tom Daldry, which featured as part of the writers development project I set up called ‘First Heard’.

(* Emily Carding’s Hamlet is coming to St Mary in the Castle and Rye Creative Centre. A HOT article about the production will be posted in the next few days.)

Tell us about your connection to Hastings and your commitment to the local theatre scene.

I am a huge believer in the power of theatre and proud to be at the forefront of new theatre writing in Hastings. We are a small but potent force on the cultural scene and we have an exciting time ahead with many of us creating ground-breaking work and being finally taken note of beyond the confines of the town. I have over the last year written/co-written and produced four new works for the stage and as well as producing Caiban’s Codex for 2018, I am also writing a new dark, explosive monologue, based on Punch from Punch and Judy, which explores the zeitgeist of Alt-Right, anti PC rhetoric and the rise of anti-feminism.

My commitment to theatre development runs deep; not only have I continued to fund the development of my own new work, but have also been successful in supporting other local talent through ‘First Heard’. And I am now at the centre of conversations around the idea of a Theatre Network group for Hastings which would give focus and a voice to the many theatre-makers now living and working in the area. I grew up in theatre and theatre and story telling is at the heart of my creative existence – and despite the financial risk, I will always be a theatre maker and hope to remain at the centre of a new growth in professional work produced in Hastings and exported to the world.

John Knowles

John Knowles

John Knowles’ and Kate Tym’s theatre production company: It’s Not Us.

Caliban’s Codex.

John Knowles’ other plays:
Time Please.
Toby Belch is Unwell.
Hitleria Pizzeria Parts I & II.

Posted 09:59 Sunday, Feb 18, 2018 In: Arts News

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