In an interview with Inspector Sands, we find out more about the London based touring company, and the themes and influences behind their new production of Wuthering Heights, ahead of its world premiere tour – which kicks off in April!
1. Tell us a bit about Inspector Sands as a company? How did you meet?
Giulia: We met on a bench in a South London park in 2003. Lucinka and I had just finished training at the Lecoq School in Paris, and Ben (who I went to uni with) had just finished at Lamda. We wanted to make a show, we were restless and we didn’t want to wait for a job to land. In 2005 we did our first scratch of Hysteria, on a shoestring. It was around the time of the July bombings when the words “can Inspector Sands make his way to the control room” could be heard regularly on the tube. This panic button became our name and motif.
2. How did you come to explore Wuthering Heights – why this text / story?
Giulia: Wuthering Heights is very much Lucinka’s baby and was born out of Brexit Britain and this country’s relationship to the outsider. We were not just drawn to Cathy and Heathcliff’s love story, but to the lack of lack of love in this book and how this trauma is passed on from generation to generation.
Lucinka: We originally did a version as a third year public production at the Central School of Speech and Drama. We were excited to find that the students really chimed with the text and found loads of contemporary resonances – especially in terms of young people navigating social expectation as they find their identities.
Brontë was such a radical force in her time and asked difficult questions. We aim to take inspiration from her and do the same. Sadly the social and relationship dynamics she describes feel all too familiar – a hostile environment, vying for resources where they’re perceived to be scarce, scapegoating, lack of curiosity about other lives…
Brontë was also very funny, and we find inspiration in the way she treads the line between comedy and pathos.
3. How has your artistic approach as a company influenced this retelling?
Giulia: Ask me again once we’re in the rehearsal room! For now I can imagine that the company of actors telling this story will deeply influence this piece. We won’t be forgetting ourselves in this process, we are part of what makes this work vital and every member of the team will affect the telling of this piece.
Lucinka: We’ve always been interested in the way the social or political bigger picture is played out in the detail of human relationships / interaction. In this adaptation that manifests as interest in foregrounding the voices that are least likely to be heard.
In terms of style, the show is a memory play – we are inside Nelly’s head reliving the story that haunts her. It gives us scope to be playful with form – driven by her fallible memory and heightened senses.
4. Which character(s) have you most enjoyed developing?
Giulia: Nelly! But I’m biased.
Lucinka: I know this is an annoying answer but the adaptation is so much about the web of how the characters all interact. They all behave pretty badly at some point – if we can make them likeable and relatable in spite of this we’ll have done well.
5. What can the audience expect from this fresh take on a well-known classic?
Giulia: A visceral exploration of how violence in our society may lurk just beneath the surface.
An unlikely protagonist.
Beautiful, original language, courtesy of Emily Brontë.
Fantastic set and costumes which marry the past and the present.
A soundscape that sets your teeth on edge.
Humour when you least expect it.
Lucinka: In addition to the above, I’d add that we are interested in hope. I think Brontë offers us an amazing blueprint of a path to hope, even when things seem at their most bleak and entrenched. I think Wuthering Heights is an epic ode to empathy and compassion, which we are surely in dire need of as a society right now.
To find out more about Inspector Sands, you can visit their website here.
Coming to Northampton, Oxford, Coventry, London, and Newcastle, Wuthering Heights will have its world premiere at Royal & Derngate, Northampton from 24 April – 6 May 2023, before touring to Oxford Playhouse from 9-13 May, Warwick Arts Centre from 16-18 May, Rose Theatre, Kingston from 23-27 May; concluding at Northern Stage from 6-10 June.
Visit the Wuthering Heights show page here to book your tickets!
Image © Stefan Lange & Paddy Molloy