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PHILIP HOLT, FROM NEW YORK TO LONDON

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Canadian born Philip Holt is a contemporary writer and playwright working at present both in the USA and the UK. His latest play, “The Peregrine”, was written by Holt (winner of the 2017 Stockwell Playhouse Award) after one of his trips to Argentina. “The Peregrine” follows Paul (Christopher Sherwood), a political fixer snatched as a child from poverty by his ‘svengali’ Memo (Sprague Theobald) and groomed in a life of privilege and violence. One step ahead of his own fate, Paul must confront his one-time guide, Theo (Jonathan McGarrity). A tango takes center stage as Paul learns that the dance of time and memory will define his future when Sofia (Katie Buchholz) offers him a final explanation: “We all come from somewhere. Then we choose”. The last word goes to Paul’s tailor, Doroteo (Jackson Pentland), who is the only one left to observe the sweep of events that consume the other characters. A few days before the opening of the
previews in London, Mr. Holt spoke with AZUCAR MAGAZINE about his work.

NI: How did you become a writer?
PH: From as far back as I can remember, I’ve been pulled toward storytelling. I was fortunate growing up to have
occasional opportunities to see good actors in good productions. Watching Robert Morley bring down the house
with only one word was a revelation about the power of dramatic writing and performance. I wrote and published
stories over the years, but it took me a long time to put the pieces together on a page where I could imagine actors
bringing the text to life. I’ll never forget that original lesson: write to transport and entertain an audience for a
couple of hours. The word, by the way, was “screwdriver.”

NI: How long have you been a playwright?
PH: If you count the earliest attempts, it would be almost my whole life. It’s only in the last ten years that I’ve
been able to see completed pieces come to life on the stage.

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NI: What was the working progress of “The Peregrine”?
PH: I’ve always thought of Ricardo Güiraldes as the Hemingway of Argentina, and I got the original idea for The
Peregrine while visiting La Porteña several years ago. It felt like it would be worthwhile and fun to write a story
that was a literary acknowledgment of his inspiration. After I finished the story, I began adapting it as a
screenplay but quickly realized that it would be much more effective for actors on a stage, so I threw out all that
work and started over on the play. It took about two-and-a-half years to finish.

 

NI: What was the audience reception like?
PH: The play opens here in London on August 27th, so I’ll have to answer your question more fully after that. We
have done a couple of staged readings along the way, and so far the reception has been quite positive. I’m hoping
audiences find the fully produced version even more entertaining.

NI: What topics or themes did you address in this new play?
PH: Among the recurring concerns in the play are the ways people turn to the shadows of memory and tradition to
find some remedy for the displacement of modern life, where everyone seems to come from some other place on
their way to somewhere else.

NI: Why did you choose Argentina?
PH: In Don Segundo Sombra, Güiraldes celebrates the traditional values of the Argentine gaucho through the eyes
of an orphan who finds his place in the world under the guidance of Don Segundo. The Argentine locale and
culture give the characters texture and voice, but their concerns are universal. The story really could take place
anywhere, but I really wanted to pay my respects to Güiraldes.

NI: What is your relationship with the director like?
PH: Fred Gray and I have worked very closely to bring the play to life on stage in a way that is vivid and direct.
Because I trust his instincts and judgment, and he understands the play, we can address any matters that come up
quickly.

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More information
“The Peregrine” a play by Philip Holt, directed by Fred Gray.
208 Wandsworth Road, London, England.
August 27 – September 2, 2018
Monday to Friday 7.30 PM. Saturday and Sunday 3 and 7.30 PM.
www.the-peregrine.com