Just three days from the first previews for The Beloved, we caught up with cast member Sivan Sassan on a rehearsal break. She chatted to us about the compelling interpretation of the Abraham story, the power of a woman's love, and the excitement of being part of the Bush's first international co-production.
We're so pleased to have ShiberHur with us for The Beloved. As part of the company, what about this piece is special to you?
The play is like a classic Greek tragedy, only modern. The story is based on a well-known myth, but at its bottom line, it is about family, which everyone can relate to. Everybody can connect with that, everyone can see themselves in it.
The story takes a big issue and makes it very personal. There's the whole relationship between a man and his wife, between a father and his son; it's about how our relationship with our parents influences the relationships we have after that: to our women, to our men, to the rest of the world. It affects everything.
What's the significance of your role?
The thing about my character, [Wife]––and I don't want to spoil anything––is that this woman is going through a big personal change, and a lot of pain, but she can still, as a woman, be strong enough to bring her man back to life from the lowest place. If I understand the playwright, that's something that he intended. It's a very powerful thing to say about women––because of her, [Son] can find the closure he needs to get rid of the hatred and fear he's consumed by.
Our team has had some debate about the ending.
Yes, it's open. People have many interpretations; it depends what relationship you have with your father and mother.
What drew you to this play?
Because I'm married to the playwright, I read it all through the drafts, even before we knew which characters would be in it. It was very fascinating to see it evolve. I've wanted to work with [Nizar] for a long time, but this is the first time we have worked together. When the Wife was established as a part in the play, he just offered it to me, and I jumped on it.
What are three words that describe the story?
Powerful... Every other word I would say sounds less than what it is. Moving, but more than that. Emotional, but more. Archetypal? You don't need to be very sophisticated to understand it, but you can also be very sophisticated about it.
It's a big story. A modern classic tragedy--very powerful.
This is our first international co-production at the Bush. How has the experience been for your company?
It's very exciting, it's the first time for me [performing in London]. It's very similar [to rehearsing in Haifa], but also very different. The work we do and the way things are being produced feels like back at home, but at the same time, we're not all speaking the same language... But it's very exciting--London is a big capital for theatre, at the Bush everyone is young, it's new and very exciting. And the welcome here was really nice.
It's also exciting to be part of the [World Stages London] festival because the productions are from all over the world. [WSL Co-director] David Lan named all the countries the actors are from, and its a list of like 20 places. It makes you feel very proud to be a part of it.