Rob Melrose is artistic director of the Cutting Ball Theater, which often stages experimental productions of classic works. To open the company's 2011-12 season, Melrose chose a classic that most people haven't heard of: Pelleas and Melisande, by Maurice Maeterlinck, pioneer of the Symbolist movement.
We talked with Melrose, who is directing his own, new translation of the play, about defying the theater world's preference for realism and updating Pelleas and Melisande, “a fairy tale for adults,” for contemporary audiences.
How did you become interested in Maeterlinck?
I was doing my thesis at Princeton on Chekhov's The Seagull. You know Konstantin does a play-within-a-play in the first act, and a lot of the scholarship I had read said this play is definitely either an homage to Maeterlinck or a send-up of his work. That got me excited about Maeterlinck, so I started reading his plays. I read Pelleas and Melisande, and I was blown away. I just loved it. And I actually love Konstantin's play-within-a-play in The Seagull.