Selina Cartmell, American debut

Selina Cartmell

American debut

February 2012 - Selina Cartmell, 2006-2007 Theatre Protégée

For former Rolex protégée Selina Cartmell, the New York debut of The Broken Heart, by 17th-century British playwright John Ford on 12 February was a moment to savour.

It was the first American production for the young, award-winning, British theatre director. After the curtain fell on opening night at the Duke theatre, Cartmell admitted to a gamut of emotions: “Relieved, terrified, inspired and exhausted, happy – happy with the company, the cast, everything.”

”The opportunity to work in America for the first time was a ‘big deal’”, she explained, as it meant working with American actors in an American show rather than transferring a show from overseas. “I had to start from nothing, and building everything is a huge thing.”

In the audience was Cartmell’s former mentor Julie Taymor, whose theatre, film and opera productions have made her one of the most bankable directors in the world. Cartmell was thrilled by Taymor’s positive response to The Broken Heart, knowing her former mentor would never be insincere.

Asked if there was any of Taymor’s influence in the production, Cartmell said there was “a little” as the two directors share a connection to ritual, a celebration of the ensemble, visual aesthetic and the importance of music. “We enjoy working on difficult subjects, which usually involves death rituals, spirituality of some kind, the afterlife.”

The play, a production from the Theatre for a New Audience, is a tragedy about a feud between to Spartan families whose tangled romances are the genesis for jealousy and bloody revenge.

The Broken Heart attracted a large number of reviews from influential newspapers and theatre industry blogs, including a rating of three and-a-half stars out of four:

“The action is clear and swiftly paced, and the large ensemble does well by both the play’s poetic language and its intense physical demands.- Frank Shenk, The New York Post

“Cartmell is obviously a classical director to watch: Her compositions for the three-sided space are crisp, clean, and mobile; she deftly manages the play’s serpentine complications with sharp expositional staging.”

- Jacob Gallagher-Ross, The Village Voice

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