- (Photo: RSC/Lucy Barriball)
A major production company in the United Kingdom will hold its opening performance of the Bible book Song of Songs on Tuesday – just don't expect any religious elements to be included.
Instead, the Royal Shakespeare Company – located in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is the birthplace of world renowned playwright William Shakespeare – will be highlighting the book's sensual aspect.
Struan Leslie, RSC's head of movement and director of "Song of Songs," said, "anyone who comes to it (the play) expecting a 'biblical epic' is going to be disappointed, although it will have that energy to it as far as the text goes. But it's not going to be a religious piece at all," according to the U.K.'s The Telegraph.
"The text does not mention God and that is my key," he said. "It is my intention for us to read it as text and poetry, to take the meaning as literal."
The script is based on exact words from the King James Version of the Bible, but that's as far as the play will go when it comes to religion.
"One of the other things we're interested in doing is escaping the Judeo-Christian tradition of it," said Leslie, "and opening it up to other possibilities."
Leslie hopes the production will be a "movement piece" that showcases the "sensual and erotic" version of the Song of Songs.
"When you speak about being in love with someone, that's a physical experience, and I want to make that explicit," said Leslie.
"The text is really sensual and passionate, and it's about the body. There's endless talking about the body, so for me, that's my world."
The extent to which "Song of Songs" will be "explicit" may go over the line given recent productions done by the RSC. For the company's 50th anniversary last year, the RSC performed "Marat/Sade" – a disturbing play about a group of inmates at an insane asylum who re-enact the murder of Jean Paul Murat – and included scenes of rape and torture graphic enough that large numbers of audience members left the theater in disgust.
The Song of Solomon is a book of the Old Testament, traditionally seen as being written by King Solomon in the 10th century BC. Interpretations of the text have ranged from it being an allegory of the love between God and man to it being a literal description of the relationship between King Solomon and his wife.