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A Tale of Two Cities - Hannes Lagolf Lost Dog Interview

From the creators of Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me) and Juliet & Romeo, comes a re-staging of one of the bestselling novels of all time (allegedly). Featuring live camera work on-stage, and Lost Dog’s acclaimed blend of contemporary dance and theatre, rediscover Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities from a whole new perspective. 

This is Lost Dog’s nearly unrecognisable re-imagining of a classic and will premiere at Warwick Arts Centre from 16 to 18th February 2022.

Ahead of the premiere I spoke with cast member Hannes Langolf who plays Charles Darnay about the show.

Firstly I asked how Hannes would describe the show "I think watching the show is probably like reading Charles Dickens’ famous book through one of those kaleidoscopic lenses that make things slightly fall apart but that create an intriguing and beautiful new version that still has all the parts and somehow makes sense. Ben Duke (our director) also describes the show as a ‘fictionalised documentary’ which I think fits perfectly. We have two cameras on stage that zoom into the live action and also reveal unseen scenarios. We constantly switch between spoken word and dance, which I think makes the storytelling of the show really exciting for us as performers and, hopefully, for the audiences, too."

John Kendall and Hannes Langolf in A Tale of Two Cities. Photo by Camilla Greenwell.

Hannes described what inspired him to get into performing "I always loved performing in front of people! As a young kid I staged magic shows for my parents and neighbours, together with my brother. We went full out with “costumes” (grandma’s old fur coats), “sound design” (a cassette player) and “magic tricks” (levitating under a massive blanket while just holding two long sticks with shoes attached in front of us). Later when I started dancing, I loved the way my movement could express feelings and communicate meaning to people who were watching. It’s such a buzz to be on stage and to feel a show come alive with everyone in the team working hard to create that moment of unrepeatable magic for an audience to disappear in."

I asked Hannes what was the first piece of theatre he remembers seeing "The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I was twelve years old and it was my favourite opera at the time (I played the flute and also secretly wanted to be the Queen Of The Night). I remember going with my grandma. We had front row seats and I loved the costumes, the powerful music, and the story. I also remember telling the conductor at the end that I thought the second violin played a wrong note during the overture...!"

I asked Hannes if he saw any of his own qualities within the character of Charles Darnay. "It’s difficult to imagine what kind of qualities someone really needed to possess who lived at the intense and gruesome time of the F rench Revolution. In the book, Charles Darnay rarely makes things happen himself but things happen to him. I think I have a bit more drive than that."

Talk turned to whether Hannes revisited the original Dickens text in preparation for the role. "I had to do it in stages - it’s so dense. Also with English not being my first language, I found the writing at times quite difficult. I ended up reading it alongside listening to an audiobook version which I found much easier. At times during the creation, it also became quite useful not knowing the book and story perfectly, and finding hazy memories from our characters became a fun device to play with creatively."

Hannes expressed how excited he was to be working with Lost Dog. "It’s been super exciting. The company is a fantastic team and the cast is wonderful. It’s a privilege to work in a rehearsal room that is so generous and open hearted. I’ve always loved to be involved in processes that use various mediums to tell stories and I really enjoy the blend of theatre and dance. As people, we speak and move all the time at the same time to express ourselves, so why suddenly just speak and stand still, or just move and not speak? It’s just always been logical for me to do both. I’ve been a fan of Ben’s work for a while now and it’s a joy to get to collaborate with him and the company on this production."

Valentina Formenti, Hannes Langolf and Nina-Morgane Madelaine. Photo by Camilla Greenwell.

Hannes describes his favourite moments within the show "I love all the dialogues and interactions I get to have with other characters. It’s exciting when you’re bouncing words or movement back and forth and can play with the subtle interpersonal relationships. Oh and also I get to play a rogue drunk at one point, which is fun!"

Finally, Hannes explained why audiences should come and see the production "Definitely come to see it if you loved the book! And also come if you hated it actually! Oh, and also if you’ve never read it and haven’t even heard of Dickens! Come along if you love theatre... oh, and if you love dance! ... Come if you want to laugh... ahm, and if you want to be moved... you get the picture. Just come! We will give our all to make it worth your while!"

A Tale of Two Cities premieres at Warwick Arts Centre from 16th to 18th February 2022. Tickets are available from the Warwick Arts Centre website. You can find out more about Hannes through his website

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