Science fiction: The City and the City on stage

Published On February 20, 2013 | By James Bacon | Books

Arthur C Clarke award-winning author China Miéville’s story is being performed by the Lifeline Theatre  in Chicago. The theatre company who has been entertaining for thirty years, have performed works such as Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by Tolkien, Cats Cradle and Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut.

I am here at the large regional science fiction convention Capricon, in north Chicago, around a thousand people are gathered on a snowy weekend,and the director Dorothy Milne, the adapter Christopher M. Walsh and Marketing director Rob Kauzlauric from the City and the City production are talking about bringing Miéville’s work to the stage.

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The first thing, is an exclusive announcement, that China Miéville himself will be at the theatre on the 16th of March for a signing. There is an excitement, just in the room about the idea of theatre bringing this book to the stage, the author coming and generally about what Lifeline have done before.

I am surprised to hear that the Theatres adaptations continue to be produced, and I learn that the Neverwhere production at the Progress Theatre in Reading was adapted by the same Robert Kauzlauric who is here.

The Theatre space sounds very versatile, with high ceiling, listening to the team here you can feel the appreciation respect and desire to do the fiction justice, respecting it, but desiring to make the story work in the restriction that is a given space of a theatre.

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I wonder about how the two cities will be discriminated, and it is explained that colours, costumes props and movement all go into that process of identifying the each city, the quality of light and a less subtle ‘shade of blue’  which is mentioned as legal in one, illegal in another in the book, is something that is latched upon. Also accents are used to discriminate from non city people.

It all sounds wonderful.

A further tease is revealed, the team made mention that in two years time, they are looking a  musical of Soon I Will Be Invincible  by Austin Grossman and they are working on Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart as a play. I wonder if these pproductions could not move to London.

From the Liveline website:

The City & The City
February 15th-April 7th, 2013
$20 Previews: Feb 15th-24th (Fri at 7:30pm, Sat at 8pm, Sun at 4pm)
Regular Run: Feb 28th-Apr 7th (Thu & Fri at 7:30pm, Sat at 4pm & 8pm, Sun at 4pm)

There’s more going on here than you know.”

the city and the city china mieville lifeline theatre

Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad is assigned to a seemingly open-and-shut case: an American student found dead in the gutters of the city of Beszel. But soon this deceptively simple crime reveals ties to powerful political and corporate factions at the heart of both Beszel and its twin city, Ul Qoma. Forced to cross the divide between two city-states coexisting in the same geographical space yet separated by irreconcilable cultural differences, Borlú must bring to justice the mastermind of the most unusual and dangerous case of his career. A thrilling crime story set in a location both fantastical and eerily real, in a world premiere adaptation.

Based on the novel by China Miéville, adapted by Christopher M. Walsh, directed by Dorothy Milne

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About The Author

James Bacon
James Bacon is a train Driver working in London but originally from Dublin. He also loves comics, theatre, history and books, runs conventions, writes about these activities and has edited a Hugo-winning Fanzine.

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