Fiona Shaw returns to the stage in “The Testament of Mary”, talks about playing Electra
Fiona Shaw, who played Harry’s aunt Petunia Dursley in the Potter film series, is set to take to the stage again in May, in a production titled The Testament of Mary. Shaw will be playing the lead role of the Virgin Mary, who is struggling with the loss of her son. Adapted from Colm Tóibín’s Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, the Tony Award-nominated production reunites director Deborah Warner with longtime collaborator Shaw.
The Testament of Mary receives its only UK performances at the Barbican in London, having delighted the critics and audiences on Broadway. The production begins on May 1 and runs until May 25. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased here. The performances on May 3 and May 21 will include a post-show talk with director Deborah Warner and Fiona Shaw.
You can watch a video of Shaw and Warner discussing the production below:
Meanwhile, Shaw also recently wrote an article for The Guardian where she discussed starring in Electra. On the rehearsal process, Shaw said,
Electra was very hard to rehearse. My brother had recently died in a car crash ,and this was the first production where I had experienced, to an extent, some of the high emotions described in the play. I felt more exposed than I had in comedy. If you’re untrue in a Greek tragedy, it just doesn’t deliver at all. You have to wait until it strikes a chord deep in the performers’ hearts.
Electra played for a month at the Barbican before commencing on a tour of Northern Ireland; the production came to Derry in 1992. Shaw recalls the experience:
There had been deaths after a bomb went off in a betting shop that year. The whole Oresteia deals with the cycle of revenge, with families intent on avenging a killing. We performed as part of the Derry festival in a sports centre, with little boys kicking ball against the wall outside. At the end, the audience stood in silence. They did not clap. It was the most astonishing experience. I said to the audience that if they’d like to remain, we’d clean ourselves up and return to talk to them.
Afterwards, a woman came up to me crossly and said, ‘This is a terrible play. What do you know of death?’ I said, ‘Maybe not enough but my brother was killed.’ And a man stepped forward and said, ‘I was with your father when your brother was killed.’ And it turned out that this man had been with my father when he was given this terrible piece of information. And suddenly there was this strange collision of my personal life, the play and political tragedy.
Finally, Shaw recounts what she learned while starring in the production:
Electra made me realise that a play – with the right cast, in the right moment, in the right place – can be like sculpture and painting and literature all at once. As we flew out of Derry a few days later I wept for all sorts of reasons. I’d had a visionary time. People come to the theatre in the hope that it will have something to do with them – and when it touches them, it is both painful and brilliant.
Are you hoping to see Shaw in The Testament of Mary? Let us know in the comments.