So a cap­tain, six kings the­atre... ac­claimed

In-de­mand play­wright on how in­spi­ra­tion

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - NEWS - By Mur­ray Scougall mscougall@sundaypost.com

It re­mains one of the world’s most pop­u­lar nov­els, an en­dur­ing, sun-dap­pled story of love, war and mu­sic.

Now one of Scot­land’s most ta­lented writ­ers is bring­ing Cap­tain Corelli’s Man­dolin to the stage.

And Rona Munro, who has writ­ten a se­ries of ac­claimed plays and TV shows, ad­mits the chal­lenge of adapt­ing such a pop­u­lar best­seller, first pub­lished in 1994 be­fore sell­ing three mil­lion copies, was daunt­ing.

The epic love story is set on the Greek is­land of Cephalo­nia dur­ing its Ital­ian and Ger­man oc­cu­pa­tion in the Sec­ond World War and Rona said turn­ing the tale into a play needed a lot of care, adding: “The novel is huge, so you have to look at how to keep the essence of it and also make a good piece of the­atre.

“It’s about mak­ing peo­ple feel what they felt when they read the book but find­ing your own way of do­ing what the orig­i­nal writer did.”

The play, which will reach Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow next sum­mer, is only one of a se­ries of projects on Rona’s slate in re­cent times.

She has col­lab­o­rated with au­thor Ian Rankin on the first stage in­car­na­tion of fic­tional de­tec­tive John Re­bus, which was at the King’s The­atre in the cap­i­tal last week.

And her adap­ta­tion of My Name Is Lucy Bar­ton was on in Lon­don’s West End over the sum­mer, with Hol­ly­wood star Laura Lin­ney play­ing the ti­tle char­ac­ter, while a sec­ond pro­duc­tion of Rona’s 2009 play, The Last Witch, is cur­rently on tour in Scot­land.

“It’s been a busy cou­ple of years and there’s been a lot of dot­ting around but I’d much rather be at home, as I am now, just walk­ing the dog and writ­ing – that’s a good day,” said Rona.

She would also have been re­lax­ing in front of the TV last Sun­day with a spe­cial in­ter­est as Jodie Whit­taker be­came the first woman to play Doc­tor Who.

Rona, who wrote the ac­claimed Bold Girls and The James Plays tril­ogy, is the only per­son to have writ­ten for both the clas­sic and re­vived ver­sions of the long-run­ning sci-fi show.

She scripted the fi­nal three episodes of the old se­ries in 1989, when Sylvester Mc­coy was the Doc­tor, and re­turned last year when Peter Ca­paldi was in the role.

“It’s fab­u­lous that Jodie has the role. She’s fan­tas­tic,” said Rona. “Ev­ery­one will for­get about it within a few episodes as the role is not about gen­der. It’s more pro­found than that.

“If it wasn’t such an iconic se­ries and with 12 ac­tors hav­ing pre­vi­ously played the part, I don’t think any­one would even be com­ment­ing on this in the 21st cen­tury.

“I don’t be­lieve the writ­ing will change ei­ther just be­cause it’s a fe­male who is in the role. Doc­tor Who is Doc­tor Who.

“When you write for the se­ries, it goes be­yond char­ac­ter and gen­der, it’s just a cer­tain some­thing that makes it the Doc­tor, built up by all of the peo­ple who have played the char­ac­ter over the years.”

Jodie Whit­taker as the first fe­male Doc­tor Who, above, and Rona Munro, left, who counts the sci-fi se­ries among her many writ­ing cred­its Pene­lope Cruz and Nico­las Cage in 2001 ver­sion of Cap­tain Corelli’s Man­dolin, which Rona Munro is adapt­ing for stage

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