Staged rendition of Coleridge's poem which debuted at Athens and Epidaurus festival will visit Old Vic Tunnels for 18 shows
Fiona Shaw will collaborate with a dancer to perform Samuel Taylor Coleridge's narrative poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in January.
Following its world premiere earlier this year at Epidaurus in Greece, the Young Vic production will receive 18 performances at the Old Vic Tunnels. Speaking to the Guardian before the first show, Shaw described it as "one of the biggest things I've ever got involved with". She is joined on stage by dancer Daniel Hay-Gordon.
It's not the first time the Irish actress has committed a long poem to memory. In 1997, she gave an acclaimed 37-minute recital of TS Eliot's The Waste Land at Wilton's Music Hall; it was revived in 2010 under the direction of her long-term collaborator Deborah Warner. The pair also teamed up for last year's Peace Camp, a travelling installation of love poems for which Shaw recorded WB Yeats' When You Are Old alongside novelist Edna O'Brien.
The Rime will be directed by Phyllida Lloyd, whose all-female production of Julius Caesar begins previews at the Donmar Warehouse on Friday night, with choreography by Kim Brandstrup of ARC Dance. Lloyd and Brandstrup previously joined forces on the director's Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady.
Lloyd described the production as "the theatre of our childhood – of rhymes and sticks and a rope – a world where small things carry vast meaning".
"We premiered the work at the Athens and Epidaurus festival earlier this year and are delighted to share it again with audiences in London."
Coleridge's 1798 poem features a newly returned sailor telling guests at a wedding of his ill-starred last voyage, during which he encounters the figure of Death and loses all of his crew after being blown off course. It is believed to have been inspired by the real-life sailor Simon Hatley, who had been lost at sea and, like Coleridge's mariner, shot down a black albatross from deck.