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The Turn of the Screw Rehearsal Photos 13

By Open Air Theatre

The Turn of the Screw Rehearsals

With just over a week before The Turn of the Screw opens (22 June), here’s your chance to take a look at the production in rehearsal. The casts are rehearsing on the two tier set, the frame of which has been constructed in the rehearsal room. The orchestra (of 13 players) will be located behind the performers, with the acting space downstage.

The original novella by Henry James, on which the Benjamin Britten/Myfanwy Piper opera is based, was first published in 1898, when one reviewer described it as ‘the most hopelessly evil story that we have ever read’.

The Turn of the Screw traces the story of a young, inexperienced governess who is charged with the care of Miles and Flora, two small orphaned children abandoned by their uncle at his grand country house. The governess sees the figure of an unknown man on the tower and his face at the window; she also sees a woman. Mrs Grose, the housekeeper identifies the man as Peter Quint (the master’s valet) and the woman as Miss Jessel (the former governess); but both are dead.

A subtle, self-conscious exploration of the haunted house of Victorian culture, The Turn of the Screw can be read as a straightforward frightening ghost story. But are the apparitions of Quint and Miss Jessel what they seem? Henry James imbues his text with sexual and social unease, which give the story an eerily equivocal atmosphere. Might these apparitions actually be in the governess’s head?

When writing the opera, Britten told librettist Myfanwy Piper “Don’t worry about having the characters act in a haunted way or say spooky things. Leave all that to the music.” Performed in the open air, this will certainly be a production to experience!

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