Distrusting island mentality, the British director Katie Mitchell confronted continental Europe with a strong preference for Germany and the Scandinavian countries. After a first staging at the age of 16, she launched her company Classics On A Shoestring, a paradox as she would be associated with the Royal Shakespeare Company, then with the National Theatre, two of the principal theatre institutions in the United Kingdom. The press anointed her with the reputation of someone who "dusted off the classics", which she fully honoured by radically attacking Euripides, Aeschylus and Strindberg, before receiving the reinforcement of Martin Crimp, who rewrote Chekov's The Seagull and Ferdinand Bruckner's The Pains of Youth for her. The Mitchell-Crimp duo would produce two more plays: Attacks on One's Life and The City. Even if she is enamoured of the classics, Katie Mitchell is no less sensitive to contemporary texts. From 2000 to 2004, she was moreover an associate at the Royal Court Theatre, a venue for the emergence of new writings, where she notably staged Wastwater by Simon Stephens. Her encounter with the video artist Leo Warner led to a radical change in her stagings whether they were musical (Al gran sole carico d'amore, a "theatre action" by Luigi Nono), operatic (she was a guest artist at the Salzburg Festival) or in prose, with the adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel The Waves. But ir is perhaps in Christine, after Miss Julie by Strindberg that we can best measure the strength of her filmed theatre in which cinema sheds light, in a highly concerted gesture, on the areas left in the dark in theatre. Katie Mitchell and Leo Warner are appearing at the Festival d'Avignon for the first time with this play produced for the troupe of the Schaubühne Berlin, one of the most prestigious German theatre institutions.
JLP, May, 2011.