Sacred Heart College’s drama department is proud to present, “The Love of the Nightingale” by Timberlake Wertenbaker, directed by Roslyn Wood-Morris and choreographed by Craig Morris.
I have taught The Love of the Nightingale for many years. Previously at an all girls school where the themes of rape and violence against women were deeply relevant and personal. But in today’s social climate when so many men have been accused publicly of violence against women and living in a society where rape culture is still so rampant, these issues are as relevant and personal when teaching this text to boys.
The Love of the Nightingale is based on a two and a half thousand year old myth, The Rape of Philomela. On the surface the play is about gender violence but Timberlake wanted to use the silencing of a rape victim as a metaphor for a broader issue:
“Although it has been interpreted as being about men and women, I was actually thinking about the violence that erupts in societies when they have been silenced for too long” – Timberlake
Niobe, Philomele’s nurse considers this idea in the play with her monologue where she likens the rape of Philomele to her own country’s invasion where a stronger nation overpowered a weaker one. Even though Philomele is silenced in the most violent way she never gives up in finding a way for her voice to be heard. The importance of words and how they link to our personal and cultural identity is further emphasised in the character Procne, who mourns for her sister Philomele, when she leaves Athens and marries the Thracian King. She is homesick and unable to talk to the women in Thrace:
“The words are the same, but point to different things. We aspire to clarity in sound, you like the silences in between.” – Procne
The male chorus act as the bystanders, watching, looking but never seeing. The women chorus struggle to make their words understood when every part of their being warns them of the danger approaching. We have forgotten to listen to our instincts. We have forgotten to take action and speak truth to power. We don’t ask questions and even if we do, we silently, through our inaction follow the powerful.
For the last three years The Sacred Heart College Drama department has focused on original workshopped plays. Working with such a complex text in the style of a Greek Tragedy was initially quite daunting for the cast. However, they soon became enthused when they started analysing the characters, themes and the intention of the play.
Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasise about the world we aspire to” – Willem Dafoe
Each member of the cast has been challenged by the text and they have had to confront their own beliefs and attitudes towards gender violence, apathy in society, silence and oppression. They have had to learn to manage their time and commitments, develop resilience and stamina and work as an ensemble. The commitment from the cast has been extraordinary and I am proud of the decent humans being that make up the cast of “ The Love of The Nightingale”.
What is great about collaborating is getting to work with wonderful people. That is what theatre is about: other people getting you to give of your best, and getting everyone else’s best out of them. – Jason Robert Brown
Theatre is an essential human experience. The lived experiences on stage connect the audience to a shared communion reminding us to question what it is to be human. I have thorough enjoyed this human experience of creating The Love of The Nightingale with the Sacred Heart Drama students and I hope you the audience will also be challenged by this Myth.
What is a myth? The oblique image of an unwanted truth reverberating through time. – Male Chorus, The Love Of The Nightingale
How to book for “THE LOVE OF THE NIGHTINGALE”
- Fill out the Google Form by following this link:
- Make an EFT payment:
Sacred Heart College
First National Bank
NB Reference: Surname 40055
- Collect your tickets from Ms Luigia Milani-Van Zyl,