Reclamation is the word on the lips of Caroline Burns Cooke, as she takes to the stage with her new show Gruoch: The Lady Macbeth at Prague Fringe. The show is centring the narrative of Lady Macbeth and exploring it as “the feminist origin story to end them all”. Given Caroline’s almost imminent arrival to Prague Fringe next week, we wanted to sit down to talk mythos, Shakespeare, womanhood, overcoming illness and, revenge. Join us both for a pixelated pilsner.
Catch Gruoch: The Lady Macbeth at Divadlo Inspirace on May 22nd, 23rd and 24th (times vary by day). Tickets are available through the Prague Fringe Box Office.
Jake: Hi Caroline! ‘Grouch: The Lady Macbeth’ takes a sideways look at the age-old Shakespearean story by analysing ‘the feminist origin story to rule them all’ – tell us about Lady Macbeth and what inspired you to put the piece together.
Caroline: Unlike my previous solo shows, Gruoch was written for me by David Calcutt, who I met while working on his piece Descent, a site-specific piece in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. David knew I was a solo performer and asked if he could write a piece for me. As Descent was a combination of contemporary war stories and Dante’s Inferno I wondered if he wanted to explore a myth-centred female character and he did!
Jake: You describe Lady Macbeth as much maligned, and that this piece is a reclamation – what are you hoping the audience take away from it?
Caroline: After some research about real Gruoch, he fashioned a brilliant story of her life before her marriage to Macbeth, her reasons for the marriage and created an origin/revenge story which is thrilling and powerful. I was delighted by the script and so excited by it. It feels as if I wrote it myself. The themes of feminism, abuse and abandonment are prevalent in my previous work – And the Rope…and Proxy. These issues are as necessary to me as the humour that I always inject and even try to squeeze in here!
My previous director, Colin Watkeys, has worked with me on those shows mentioned and we created the shows together, which i then developed into a script to be rehearsed. He had to be persuaded to work on a pre-written script, but loved it as much as I did!
Jake: The show is a ‘myth-centred’ exploration of bereavement and abuse, how was it working with those themes and creating a piece of art from it?
Caroline: It’s been nearly 2 years since the script was written, but due to what I like to call my Covid/Cancer/Chronic Bronchitis years, there have been many delays and cancellations. I was supposed to do the show in Prague last year, but ill health prevented that. I’m so delighted to be coming this year, and due to the wonderful generosity of David, Colin and, of course, the wonderful Prague Fringe director, Steve Gove, I am giving a fully rehearsed, lit and sound-tracked performance, script in hand due to brain fog!
Jake: Now that we’re gearing up for Prague Fringe, what are you most excited for?
Caroline: I am delighted to be able to perform in Prague where my work has been so well received in the past.
Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?
Caroline: If my show was a drink it would be dark, dark rum, with a sparkling champagne chasrer!