From Thebes to Carthage, Lazarus now turns it’s head towards the aftermath of the Trojan war. After following the cursed path of the heroic leader, Oedipus, we find ourselves in the company of Dido, the Carthage Queen, to explore Marlowe’s first play, The Tragedy of Dido Queen of Carthage. Past Lazarites congregated at The Space, London’s Isle of Dogs arts centre, to explore and pick away at the play which will soon be appearing on the stage in rep with Lazarus’ adaptation of King Lear at the Greenwich Theatre. Much of what was discussed, before and after the read-through, was focused greatly on how the petty arguments between the Gods influence the lives of all the characters in the play. Another aspect that was widely discussed was the theme of loneliness that seems present, embodied in both Dido and Aeneas (a hero of the Trojan war, founder of ancient Rome and the man Dido falls for). The idea of free-will and fate (which was a widely debated throughout Oedipus’ process) also rose into discussion. We explored the adaptation through a high energy read-through on our feet playing with the text and cast real-time reaction to the text. It was a huge amount of fun and it was really great to see the play on its feet. So much of what we had discussed seemed to come into the fore during the read-through e.g. the pettiness and selfishness of the gods (apparent in Juno and Venus’ argument/plotting scene), the personal loss of the protagonists of the play (which previously were hardly touched upon or even realised) and, most importantly, the human aspects of Dido and the other characters. What I found I discovered after this workshop was how incredibly vast and humanly real this play is even though the setting is on a much more epic scale than our own lives. Before seeing this story play out in front of me, I initially took it to be filler, documenting Aeneas’ journey from Troy to Rome. But it’s so much more than that. It’s an epic story of love, loss, loneliness, duty and sacrifice. Seeing two people fall in love with one another, after such horror in their pasts, is refreshing and uplifting. Watching it play out in the workshop made me want it to last because that’s personally what someone would hope for in their own lives. An everlasting, truthful love. Seeing this love be tested, put against duty and honour and then ultimately destroyed gives such a gravity to the play that I definitely did not realise before.
This workshop day uncovered much of what Dido will hopefully become but we also discovered that we have literally only scratched the surface. What a brilliant journey Dido and Lear will become for those who are accepted into the ranks!