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Things of Darkness (GM Fringe)

Press Release: 30th June 2016
(by Marissa Burgess)

The forthcoming debut production of Things of Darkness at Hope Mill Theatre will see a unique coming together of playwright and artist.

In the auditorium Mark Murphy’s psychological play will explore issues of mental health and otherness, while out in the foyer and the bar will creep Teresa Wilson’s wonderfully strange puppets – other worldly human forms and birds that hint at a hidden unknown world.

A part of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, Things of Darkness began life in Murphy’s imagination as just a single image, that of a creature unfolding, ‘like a spider descending from its web and unfurling.’ Inspired by traditional faery tales and myths that creature became a faerie, and she was joined by another figure, a squaddie. He is home from the war but he feels disconnected; she wants him to go with her into the ‘other place’.

A conversation begins between the two characters, marking a crossing over between their worlds. As the story unfolds, leading us into a world of strange encounters, it explores the squaddie’s struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Elsewhere there are themes of otherness – particularly pertinent at the moment with the refugee crisis and the apparent increase in xenophobia following the EU referendum.

As he began writing the play Murphy became inspired by traditional fairy tales in all their visceral original forms: Red Riding Hood, The Tinder Box, Rumplestiltskin, Jack and the Beanstalk, all remembered from reading them to his children when they were young.Additional influences were the opera fantastique The Tales of Hoffmann, the works of Lewis Carroll and modern day re-workings of faery tales by Angela Carter. Murphy also explored the works of Freud, Jung, Julia Kristeva and the Surrealists. The title itself is taken from The Tempest in which Prospero refers to his half-human, half-devil slave Caliban as ‘this thing of darkness.’

Wilson too is inspired by myth and legend in her work. The pair met after Murphy contacted her having attended her Changelings exhibition at Salford University in 2010. A collaboration was mooted. Her human figures are made from discarded cloth and wire and they exist on the peripheries of this world hinting at something else, another place. Situated ‘to create claustrophobic environments where private dramas take place,’ the effect of her installations is as eerie and unsettling as it is beautiful. There’s an intriguing melancholy in these characters that draws you in.

Since completing her Fine Art degree at Salford University in 2008, Wilson has exhibited widely across the UK and has recently been working on a film project in Turkey.

‘I have no doubt that the spirit inherent in Teresa’s work has seeped into the play,’ notes Murphy of the collaboration. Wilson adds, “I have always perceived my work as ‘crossing over’ in some way, to explore an in-between space between visual art and theatre. This production of ‘Things of Darkness’ is a great opportunity to bring these ideas to a physical realisation. Mark’s play brilliantly merges ideas of ‘otherworldliness’ with the psychological horrors of the here and now; ideas which constantly concern me in my sculpture and which I seek to “play out” with my uncanny installation work.’

In his day job Murphy works for the NHS, but his desire to write was strong from an early age. Eventually he signed up to study on the MA in Creative Writing course at the University of Bolton. Since then he has worked on projects with other writers in Bolton Octagon’s writing group and produced a play for the 24/7 festival in Manchester.

Out of Kilter Theatre Company is a brand new company run by Murphy and director Kerry Kawai. The company was set up to develop and perform new work, particularly that which exists away from the mainstream. The company seeks to focus on their own, and others’ work, that is out of the ordinary or provocative, and to create performances ‘of magic and wonder, where embarking on new journeys is possible’.

Things of Darkness: Hope Mill Theatre, 13th – 14th July
For tickets: www.greatermanchesterfringe.co.uk
For more information on Out of Kilter Theatre: www.outofkiltertheatre.co.uk

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