“Let me take the case of Katherine Mansfield. She has led, ever since she can remember, a very typically false life. Yet, through it all, there have been moments, instants, gleams, when she has felt the possibility of something quite other.”
– Katherine Mansfield, in a journal entry near the end of her brief life
Singapore, 26 June 2013 –The award-winning play The Case of Katherine Mansfield, about one of 20th century’s best short story writers, makes its long overdue premiere in Singapore this July. Written, directed and acted by the internationally acclaimed Catherine Downes from New Zealand, the one-woman play will run at The Arts House from 18 – 20 July.
Born in New Zealand in 1888, Katherine Mansfield led a tragically short but tempestuous life and died of consumption at the age of 34 in 1923. Though hers is not a household name, Mansfield is widely held as one of the pre-eminent writers of the Modernist period and one of the best short story writers in the 20th century.The Case of Katherine Mansfield is not a biography of the writer but an account of her own perceptions of herself and her art during her last years. It was developed by Catherine Downes incorporating extracts from Mansfield’s letters, journals and some of her finest short stories, including At The Bay, Prelude, The Fly, The Doll's House and Bliss.
Says William Phuan, Director, The Arts House: “We don’t see that many plays about writers, so this is a rare chance for us to burrow into the world of an iconic writer who was fading away but still writing at the height of her art. Furthermore, the play was staged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival more than 30 years ago. It’s a treat for us to finally catch it now in Singapore.”
Downes, who had performed The Case more than 1,000 times in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the US, says: “My fascination with Katherine Mansfield began with reading her journals and diaries; her intimate writing about her own feelings and where she wanted to go. They were very personal, candid, and private. She probably didn’t expect they would ever be published. It was the quality and perception of this personal writing that inspired me to develop a solo show based on Mansfield’s journals that eventually became The Case Of Katherine Mansfield.”
The version that is being presented in Singapore is an update from the one Downes performed in 1979 in Edinburgh. Some 30 years later, she is again taking the play on the road: more cities in New Zealand; in Bali at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival last year, and later in Malaysia after its Singapore run.
Downes shares: “When I was in my 20s – about the same age as Mansfield – I related to and was inspired by her outrageous determination to carve her own path and ultimate fight to ‘be all I am capable of becoming’. Now in my 60s, these themes are no less compelling. Perhaps as my mortality becomes more of a reality, I relate more keenly to Mansfield’s quest to achieve one’s potential.”
The Case Of Katherine Mansfield has won Downes several awards, including the Festival Times Award and the Scotsman Omnibus Award at the 1979 Edinburgh Fringe Festival; Best Radio Play from ABC Australia in 1981, and it was nominated for a PYE Award for Best Radio Play from BBC World Service.
Tickets to the play at The Arts House can now be purchased from www.bytes.sg. For more information, please visit www.theartshouse.com.sg.
To download the media release, event listings and biographies of Catherine Downes and Katherine Mansfield, please click here.
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The Arts House at the Old Parliament
Occupying the almost 200-year-old building that was Singapore's first Parliament House, The Arts House since its opening in 2004 has been offering its visitors a broad spectrum of lifestyle options, while at the same time playing an active role in the Singapore arts and creative scene. Since 2011, The Arts House has been focusing on the development of Literary Arts, while supporting and presenting programmes and festivals that aim to give a wide and multidisciplinary experience to our audiences. For more information:www.theartshouse.com.sg.