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Joan Eardley: A Private View premiered at Modern Two, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and then toured UK regional art galleries and arts centres in May/June 2017. An overview of the play’s impact can be read here.
Joan Eardley: A Private View was written by Anna Carlisle for Heroica Theatre Company. The 2017 production was directed by Marilyn Imrie, and Alexandra Mathie will take the role of Joan Eardley. Full cast and company listing.
Anna Carlisle’s ground-breaking new play celebrated a gifted life stopped in its prime and offered audiences an opportunity to spend time in the company of a great painter as she made her way through a life of joys, frustrations, disappointments and triumphs. In this compelling and moving promenade production, audiences came to understand what it was that fired Joan Eardley: they heard the voices of her cherished Samson children of Glasgow and the compelling ‘music’ of the Catterline storms. It was as if they were almost standing in the waves and cornfields with Joan, and they were able to experience for themselves the overwhelming impact of her finished works.
Joan’s touching life unfolded before people’s eyes entailing story, music and, in several venues, authentic Eardley works. The guiding intention of the production was to bring Joan Eardley and her overwhelming body and nature of work to the notice of people in both Scotland and England – the latter, in particular, knowing of her – if at all – far less well than the Scots.
And Joan – played by Alexandra Mathie – was not alone: as well as having the audiences alongside her, she also had with her her steadfast friends from her working life: Margot Sandeman, Angus Neil and Lil Neilson, all painters themselves, and Audrey Walker, Joan’s key mentor and a successful photographer in her own right. All the characters who enriched Joan’s life were beautifully played by Ashley Smith and John Kielty; audiences were carried through the life of Joan accompanied by the stirring music of Pippa Murphy and the evocative design of Claire Halleran. The play was magically directed by Marilyn Imrie.