Spotlight on the Royal & Derngate: Ralph Fiennes Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot

Spotlight on the Royal & Derngate: Ralph Fiennes Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot

Some of you may have noticed Ralph Fiennes exploring Northampton, we are so fortunate to be hosting such an accomplished actor.

Mr Fiennes has been in our humble town to direct and star in a world premiere adaptation of T.S Eliot’s Four Quartets, which is Royal & Derngate Northampton and Theatre Royal Bath Productions Co-Production and is certainly a warm welcome to audiences returning to the theatre.

Michael Jones Jeweller is proud to sponsor the Made in Northampton Programme for another season and we were so pleased to be invited to sit in on a Q&A with Mr Ralph Fiennes after the show. When asked 'why Four Quartets?' Mr Fiennes tells us that Four Quartets has been with him since his teens, where he would listen to T.S Eliot's own recording with the family. He goes on to note that lockdown was an opportunity to learn it by heart which was a feat he had always hoped to accomplish.

Then in the latter lockdowns with the benefit of little distraction and some welcomed advice from seasoned friends and colleagues, the reading developed into a one-man performance piece, which we are so thankful for. In response to questions about the challenges of learning this piece, Mr Fiennes was humble to tell us the complex monologue came with challenges but overall the committing to memory and development of movement came naturally as the piece became more and more familiar. While a favourite segment of the Four Quartets couldn't be chosen, Fiennes confesses a fascination with a select few passages, including the sections which pastiche to Dante's Divine Comedy. The stunning performance featured the four parts: Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages and Little Gidding which explores the theme of movements in time in which brief moments of eternity are caught, and the performance was nothing short of spectacular.

Each chapter of the Four Quartets offers intertwined musings on the nature of time, faith, and the quest for spiritual enlightenment. The delivery of T.S Eliot’s masterpiece by Mr Fiennes was compelling, moving, and symphonic like a lyric prayer or affirmation of faith.

Ralph Fiennes’ distinguished stage work is matched by performances in some of the greatest films of our time, including Schindler’s List; The English Patient; Red Dragon; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Constant Gardner; Skyfall; In Bruges; The Dig and of course the Harry Potter series as he who must not be named. We are certainly looking forward to seeing more of him in the likes of the long-awaited Bond feature No time to Die and The Kings Man which are expected to (finally) be released later this year.

For this production, the phenomenal Mr Fiennes is joined by a remarkable creative team including Hildegard Bechtler (Designer) who won an Olivier Award for After the Dance at the National Theatre; Tim Lutkin (Lighting), winner of an Olivier Award for Chimerica and Christopher Shutt (Sound), winner of a Tony Award for War Horse. The wonderful production and rehearsal photography has been provided by Matt Humphrey courtesy of Royal & Derngate. You can keep up to date with the Made in Northampton productions by following us and the Royal & Derngate on social media. Now more than ever, the arts need our help so let's get out there and support our local theatre.