After the coronavirus struck, theatre company Vanishing Point was forced to cancel its latest show, The Metamorphosis, twice. Artistic director Matthew Lenton tells Fergus Morgan how he hopes a reimagined version of the show will tour later this year and explains why international collaboration is at the heart of his company
As this pandemic has shut theatres around the world, many companies have faced the disappointment of cancelling their shows. Few have had to cancel the same show twice.
The Metamorphosis, the latest show from internationally renowned, Glasgow-based company Vanishing Point, was supposed to premiere in Italy in February, but it didn’t.
Due to the coronavirus epidemic and the Italian government’s decision to shut down public gatherings, the festival that the show was part of – VIE Festival – was cancelled.
“It’s been a bit of a nightmare,” says the company’s artistic director Matthew Lenton. “But it is just one of those things that we can’t do anything about. Luckily, we’ve got a great team of people that were able to adapt to the situation quickly.”
“The actors didn’t travel, but the tech team did, and we had to fly them back at short notice,” he continues. “That cost several thousand pounds. There have been a lot of costs we weren’t expecting. Hopefully insurance will cover some of it, but the artistic process has been protected by the producing team doing their jobs brilliantly.”
Instead, The Metamorphosis opened at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre in early March. It’s subsequent tour to Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness has been postponed until 2021. The company hopes that before that, a condensed, reimagined version of the show - The Metamorphosis Unplugged – will tour smaller venues across Scotland later this year.
The show is an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella, and a co-production between Vanishing Point, the Tron Theatre and the Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione, one of Italy’s seven National Theatres. Involving international institutions from the start is essential to Vanishing Point’s way of working.
“We work with lots of different venues and co-producers from an early stage, so that everyone is invested in what we do,” Lenton says. “They have a degree of ownership of the show because they have been partners with us from the word go. They are invested in it not just artistically, but in how they promote it, how they sell it and where it sits in their programme.”
’My hope is that one day Scotland will vote for itself to be independent. That Vanishing Point will end up back where it belongs’
It’s an approach that Vanishing Point has developed over two decades. The company was founded in 1999, and has collaborated with theatres in over 20 countries, among them, Argentina, Belgium, France, Russia and Portugal. Working internationally is in its DNA, and that won’t change because of Britain’s new relationship with the European Union, Lenton insists.
“We’ve always just felt more European,” says Lenton. “I’ve always looked to other countries – to France, to Poland, to the Czech Republic. That’s where my influences have come from. All the work I fell in love with was from other countries.”
On a political level, he says of the company’s future: “I don’t know what will happen. But on a practical level, on a purely logistical level, Brexit will definitely make things harder for Vanishing Point. My hope is that one day Scotland will vote for itself to be independent and be part of Europe. That Vanishing Point will end up back where it belongs.”
At the moment, though, Lenton is far more concerned with coronavirus than Brexit. “We’ve been playing internationally for 20 years, and I’ve never experienced anything like this,” he says. “I think this is going to have huge repercussions for the theatre industry.”
For further details, visit: vanishing-point.org