Emma Rice, outgoing artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe, is launching a new theatre company named after Angela Carter’s final novel, Wise Children, at London’s Old Vic. The company will begin with a stage adaptation of Carter’s aforementioned novel, which will launch the 2018/19 Old Vic season. In a statement published on The Old Vic website, Rice said that “I named my new company after Angela Carter’s seminal novel, which is set in south London and is a love letter to theatre.” Wise Children centres on twin sisters Dora and Nora Chance, a pair of showgirls as well as the unacknowledged daughters of Sir Melchior Hazard, the greatest Shakespearean actor of his day. Speaking about her move to The Old Vic, Rice said that this “iconic, independent and proudly innovative theatre” is “the perfect first home for my company and for our first production.” Matthew Warchus, Artistic Director of The Old Vic, notes that he is “thrilled to have appointed Emma and her new company, Wise Children, as our Company in Residence during the bicentenary.” He continues: “Emma and all she stands for is symbolic of the optimism and irrepressible spirit that has kept The Old Vic at the forefront of artistic adventure for the last two centuries.”
Late last year, it was reported that Rice would step down as artistic director at the Globe after the board decided that her methods were not appropriate for what they considered to be the Globe style. The criticisms of Rice’s productions included her use of lighting technology, which some considered too modern. Then in April of this year, Rice wrote an open letter in order “to share some thoughts” with whoever succeeds her at the Globe. As she writes at one point: the Globe board “began to talk of a new set of rules that I did not sign up to and could not stand by. Nothing is worth giving away my artistic freedom for, it has been too hard fought for.”
The past few years have seen a number of exciting stage adaptations of Angela Carter’s work, including The Magic Toyshop (Theatr Iolo/Invisible Ink, 2014), ‘The Tiger’s Bride’ (Marvellous Machine, 2016) and, most recently, The Lizzie Play (Women@RADA, 2017), an adaptation of Carter’s short story ‘The Fall River Axe Murders’. Now, with Emma Rice’s adaptation of Wise Children on the horizon, this is clearly an exciting time for Carter fans everywhere.