Swiss Cultural Fund UK

Swiss Cultural Fund UK

The Queen of Spades by Max Hoehn_October/ November

Swiss director Max Hoehn has already built up an impressive CV at the tender age of 22. After graduating from Oxford University, he adapted, directed and acted in a new version of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita in Oxford, which won the NSDF Edinburgh Emerging Artists Award. In addition he has worked as an assistant and co-director for various projects all over Europe and co-founded Fusebox Productions, which specialises in theatre and opera dedicated to story-telling and new colour, sound and motion.

 

His most recent production was another take on a Russian text - Pushkin’s famous short story The Queen of Spades. Theatregoers traditionally associate the title with Tchaikovsky’s opera version, but Fusebox’s production was the first theatrical adaptation of the text outside of Russia. The Queen of Spades is about an army officer named Hermann, who becomes obsessed with unlocking the secret of a card trick which would make him rich. The secret lies with an ancient Countess, but Hermann has no way of reaching her. He eventually gains access to the house by convincing the Countess’s ward, Lisa, that he is in love with her. Once in the house, he finds the Countess, and later obtains the secret, which eventually haunts him and leads to his downfall. In his adaptation for the theatre, Hoehn reinvents Pushkin's classic novella as a thrilling drama of the imagination, bringing the lyricism and satirical qualities of the original to life. The story is revealed to us in a series of dreams that take us from the bedroom of the old, dying Countess to the gambling tables of St Petersburg. This verse adaptation draws on material from across Pushkin's work, in particular the playful spirit of his poems. Max Hoehn was eager to create a new experience of this well-known text, but also wanted to make it accessible for those who have never come across Pushkin’s work. He stated in an interview with the eastlondonlines website: “I think someone who enjoys the opera version can enjoy our play, and its focus on the original text, which had a lot more humour. So much of this is our own thing, and I doubt the Arcola’s audience is particularly purist about Pushkin.”