Adam Gordon is an actor and a Director of Tooth + Nail Theatre Company. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, where he grew up, he has been heavily involved in theatre from a young age. In 2010 after graduating from St Andrews University with an MA (hons) in English and Film, he went on to intern for the Writer’s Theatre in Chicago in 2011 before completing the two-year Professional Acting course at the École Jacques Lecoq in 2014. Previous work includes: Estragon, ‘Waiting for Godot’, Muckle Roe Productions at the Byre Theatre and Tour; Hedwig, ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’, Burnt Out Bulbs at GRV; (Director) ‘Dracula’, Daysleeper Productions at the Barron Theatre; Laertes, ‘Hamlet’, Two-Day Productions, C Venues, Edinburgh 2009.
In 2014, Adam co-founded Tooth + Nail, an international theatre company, at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq, in Paris. The Company’s original, devised work has been described as ‘dark, funny and highly physical.’ The most recent production, Hummingbird, has been performed at this years Edinburgh Festival Fringe, receiving excellent reviews.
Born in 1844, Paul Verlaine was a highly distinguished literary poet, associated with the Symbolist movement, renowned for the structure and the restrained classicism of his work. After early literary success, Verlaine’s career was blown off course by his affair with the 17 year old Rimbaud. Leaving his wife and baby to embark on the affair in Brussels and then in London, and as a result spending 2 years in a Belgian prison, Verlaine was for some time persona non grata in French literary circles, re-emerging only in the 1890s as a leading figure in the so-called Decadent Movement, at which time he was often to be seen drinking absinthe in the cafes of the Left Bank in Paris.
Now recognised as one of the leading French poets of the 19th century, his poems have been set to music by most of celebrated French composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Thanks to Verlaine the poems of his friend Rimbaud were published after the latter’s death, and went on to revolutionise French poetry. More accessible and less iconoclastic than that of Rimbaud, Verlaine’s poetry is some of the best literary work of his era.
Born in 1854, the original enfant terrible, Rimbaud was a visionary modernist poet who transformed French poetry. A precocious literary genius from the town of Charleville, close to the border with Belgium, in 1871 he was introduced to the older and more established poet, Paul Verlaine, and started a scandalous love affair with him. Shortly afterwards the two poets ran away together to the relative anonymity of London, then a fast-developing industrial metropolis. During the brief time that he lived in London, Rimbaud probably worked on his two acknowledged masterpieces, Illuminations (Illuminations) and Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell). After a terrible row at No 8 Royal College Street, the stormy relationship with Verlaine came to an abrupt end in June 1873. Verlaine later shot and wounded Rimbaud in a hotel room in Brussels, and ended up in a Belgian prison. Shortly after the split Rimbaud gave up literature for ever and went off to become an explorer, trader and arms dealer in the horn of Africa. He died in Marseilles in 1891 at the age of only 37.
8 Royal College Street, Camden – the scene of an iconic transgressive love affair between the French poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud and the inspiration behind a new mini-play by Adam Gordon: ‘Croquis Nocturne’.
We asked Adam to tell us a little bit about the characters in his play, Arthur, Paul and ‘Caroline’.
Arthur. Paul. Caroline.
”Paul Verlaine is a poet. He is brilliant and insecure; he needs constant proof of love from Arthur, but is ashamed of his need. He spends the play seeking Arthur’s affection, and mostly not getting it.
Arthur Rimbaud is a precocious genius. He needs to be adored by Verlaine, partly because he knows the relationship will end in disaster, and sees this as a necessary thing. There is something of the cat in him. He is capable of both total focus, and easily distracted; is both playful and sexual. He manipulates the other characters, to both their detriment and benefit.
Caroline is a young woman who seeks to improve her station in life by taking French lessons with Paul Verlaine. She is forced to play Arthur’s game, then gets caught up in it, before coming back to earth with a crash. The experience leaves her shaken. Caroline is strong, sharp and very brittle, like a blade.”
Come along on September 19th to see GoodDog Theatre Co. performers, Simon Gleave, Julien Nguyen Dinh, and Nouch Papazian bring the humour and horror of Adam’s characters to life in a brand new adaptation.
For a short time in 1873, Number 8 Royal College Street in Camden housed the influential French poets, Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud. The lovers came to London following their wild hashish and absinthe-fuelled lifestyle in Paris, leaving Verlaine’s wife and infant child behind.
The whirlwind and turbulent nature of their relationship intensified during the few months they spent at the Regency house. One of their many violent altercations involved Verlaine allegedly slapping Rimbaud round the face with a fish. This is one of several amusing anecdotes concerning the couple’s drunken quarrels whilst living in Camden. The scandalous love affair came to an abrupt end in June 1873, when Verlaine was imprisoned for shooting Rimbaud in the hand.
In spite of such episodes, however, they are thought to have written some of their most acclaimed poetry during their time in the house. The Rimbaud and Verlaine foundation is hoping to establish the property as an Anglo-French poetry house, so that it may become “a living centre for the appreciation and promotion of poetry and poetry education”.