Kate Stanley Brennan plays Cilissa in Marina Carr’s Girl on an Altar at the Kiln Theatre.
Annabelle Comyn directs Nina Bowers (Cassandra), Daon Broni (Aegisthus), Jim Findley (Tyndareus), Kate Stanley Brennan (Cilissa), David Walmsley (Agamemnon) and Eileen Walsh (Clytemnestra). Marina Carr’s (Blood Wedding, By the Bog of Cats) new re-telling of the infamous Greek myth brings Clytemnestra’s story to the forefront and asks is it possible to forgive the unforgiveable?
Girl on an Altar opens at Kiln Theatre on 25 May, with previews from 19 May, and runs until 25 June.
You’re starring in Girl on an Altar at the Kiln Theatre, what can you tell us about the play?
It is Marina Carr’s reimagining of the beginning of the Oresteia. It takes place around the return of Agamemnon to Clytemnestra after the Trojan War and the sacrifice of their daughter Ipheginia ten years earlier .
What was it about Marina Carr’s writing that impressed you the most?
The breathtaking imagery in this piece, as with all of her work, is so rich and vivid- at times disturbingly dark whilst being heartbreakingly beautiful at the same time. Her ability to this is like no other.
I was also very taken by how contemporary and human this text feels and I love the present tense that is used throughout- usually in Greek plays you would have events that happen offstage described in the past tense , whereas this unusual style is much more active and exciting. Now I just need to figure out how to do it!
Tell us a little more about your character?
I play Cilissa, Clytemnestra’s serving woman and confident . Daughter of an Amazonian female warrior turned slave, she grew up with Clytemnestra and Agamemnon but is now a “free woman” She cares for their children, is fiercely loyal and toughened against past traumas in her life.
What do you think you’ll find to be the biggest challenge of the role?
There is a line in the play where Agamemnon describes “the great height of her, the Amazonian blood fighting with the slave” I think the challenge will be to figure out the complexities in terms of status and where the lines are blurred. Also doing justice to the text!
Why do you think the Kiln is the perfect venue for this play?
I imagine the theatre has been on a journey with the play from the online reading during lockdown, to now housing the full production and see it come to fruition. It’s such a versatile theatre and the design by Tom Piper alongside Annabelle Comyn’s direction for the show makes for a perfect marriage of the space with the concept.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see Girl on an Altar?
Do it- It’s the Greeks like you’ve never seen them! It’s a very unique and exciting new piece of writing from a legendary female writer and director with a stellar cast and creative team.
It’s early days but, I hope you will be deeply moved, be able to relate to a story and characters that are usually seen as “other” and from another time, and draw parallels to our own lives and the world we live in today. Nothing ever really changes does it?!