Timothy takes on O’Neill classic
Were it not for a trip to Russia several years ago, Timothy Trimingham Lee might be one of the thousands of out-of-work actors hoping to catch a break.
However the time he spent there was enough to convince him to turn his hand to directing — next month he’ll bring Eugene O’Neill’s Nobel Prize-winning play, ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’, to the Bermuda Festival.
“Being [in Russia] was probably the most life-altering experience I had,” the 38-year-old explained. “While I was there I saw the best actors I had ever seen and thought, ‘I am never going to be that good’.”
Only a year-and-a-half before, he’d shrugged off advice from a professor at his US college that his strengths lay more in writing and directing. In Russia, he saw the truth in it.
He returned to Bermuda in 1999 for his directorial debut on the Island — a stage reading for BMDS — and has been working in the United States and the United Kingdom ever since.
“I can’t tell you how nice it is to be directing in my home country,” he said. “It is wonderful to come back.”
Mr O’Neill, an American, started working on ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’ while living in Bermuda in the 1920s. The play wasn’t published until 1956.
“When O’Neill was here, the Island provided a sanctum,” said Mr Lee. “Bermuda was a place where he could be distant from his life in America and reflect, read and get inspired by the beauty of the Island. He was a big swimmer and loved the sea and Bermuda. When he was here he wrote notes for ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’, so technically the play began here.”
The script was largely based on the playwright’s own family, made dysfunctional by addiction.
“It is often thought of as a grim, gloomy play,” Mr Lee said. “That is half-right, but there is also a lot of beauty and comedy in it. It is a heavy play, but it is filled with what I would call catharsis. I would say it is extremely entertaining, very moving and powerful. The power comes from showing truth in human behaviour.”
Based in East London, Mr Lee also teaches drama to college and university students. He said he was thrilled that secondary school students here have been invited to watch a dress rehearsal of the play.
“They will come out and watch us at work putting a show together. I love working with young people. It is an opportunity to take misconceptions and misunderstandings that they might have about the theatre and turn them on their head and get them inspired by it.”
Long Day’s Journey into Night will be shown on January 31 at 8pm and February 2 at 2.30pm at the Earl Cameron Theatre. Tickets are $65 for adults and $25 for students. For more information visit www.bermudafestival.org.
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