Interview with Mark Langham (Marquis de Sade).
Sunday September 25th.
G.C: Mark, you’ve only recently finished appearing in the New Theatre production of “House of Games”; what was your reaction to being asked to take over the role of de Sade in their production of “Marat/Sade three weeks from opening? Does your wife ever get to see you?
M.L: Tired. I was more than a little cautious and, as I was coming off a show, you automatically geared yourself up for a little down-time and getting to know your family again. It is a role I always want to play and I am extremely fortunate that Vic (my wife) is very supportive. I try to take the view that at the end of your life you don’t remember that lovely nap you once had – I am a huge fan of the nap, so don’t get me wrong – but you do remember those times when you tried something that scared you. This is something that scared me.
M.L: I was familiar with the piece. My drama school (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) used Peter Brook’s “The Empty Space” extensively and referenced his production of “MND” and “Marat/Sade” with numbing regularity. When I think about it, some of my favourite productions have been of this type; pieces that speak directly to the audience and challenge them head on. I had an idea what I was taking on but, rather like learning to swim, you don’t really know what it’s all about until you get wet.
G.C: What’s your opinion of the character of de Sade as presented in the play? Does he differ much from the real-life historical figure?
M.L: The historical de Sade had serious, serious issues and was clearly a very troubled individual who would have found life in our time very hard. I have tried, twice, to read “120 Days of Sodom” and I simply can’t get through it. I made it to halfway but no further. In our play he is calmer, more measured and his past deeds are hinted at rather than assessed. He is known, primarily, as a writer and, although he is mainly nihilistic in the piece, he is held in a certain esteem by his peers, including a grudging Marat. This is a drama and the character of de Sade has a different role to play from that acted out by the historical Marquis.
G.C: Your young daughter is playing the part of Madamoiselle Coulmier. Did you have reservations about her playing the part, considering that some scenes in the play are quite bawdy, vulgar and violent?
M.L: Without once forgetting that she is a child, we’re fortunate that she is emotionally quite mature and certainly understands the difference between what happens on stage and real life. The cast and crew have been very protective of her and we know ourselves that if Tahlia had any worries or was in anyway affected by the events in the play, she would be able to let us know.
G.C: Thank you Mark. Good luck for the season.