17 posts categorized "Interviews" Feed

Q&A: Writer/director Sarah Chew on mixing genres and the Beyond Borders theatre season, Omnibus Theatre

Lipstick: A Modern Fairytale of Iran is part of a series ‘Beyond Borders’ at the Omnibus in Clapham, tell us a bit about the season and its focus.
 
Beyond Borders is a series of conversations and provocations around current trends towards the hardening of National and cultural borders.



Beyond Borders Festival ImageWhen I was in Iran in 2010, Iran was part of the area the US Government still titled the Axis of Evil. The title coloured my assumptions of what I would find there - assumptions which were challenged on a daily basis throughout my stay in Iran. 



What does Brexit, and the threat of a hard border with Ireland, do to our perceptions of people we see as Other?

What role does tightened immigration here, and Trump's travel bans in the US, play in this?

How, specifically, are women affected by the process of being Othered?



These questions can be explored verbally, but it is sometimes easier to play with these ideas in non-verbal formats. Sometimes, removing language as the primary means of communication can provide a shortcut through anxiety and terminology and towards more instinctive engagement.
 
The inspiration for Lipstick came from the time you spent in Iran in 2010, what made you want to use that experience as the basis of a piece of theatre?



It was a life changing experience. I met some extraordinary people, I saw some extraordinary theatre, and I saw at firsthand what the courage to keep making passionate, beautiful, honest theatre, even under the threat of censorship and imprisonment, looked like. 



I would have loved to work in Iran more, but the relationship between our two countries makes getting visas and setting up projects almost impossible.



Theatre is made of the people who make it. I felt a sense of loss, after I left Iran, at the absence of collaborators I knew I could have made beautiful theatre with.

But that experience also made me cherish and celebrate the collaborators and the cultural community I have here. Lipstick is at once an acknowledgement of loss and a celebration of community and continuity.

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Interview: Max Lindsay on directing Philip Ridley's gender neutral, role swapping new play Angry #SouthwarkPlayhouse

Philip Ridley’s new play Angry (Southwark Playhouse) has an interesting structure, can you explain how it is going to work?

AngryWebSo Angry consists of 6 monologues that will be performed by both of the actors. However each night we are mixing up which actor performs which monologue.

Both of the actors [Georgie Henley and Tyrone Huntley] will be performing each night but will take turns as to who performs which monologue dependent on which version you see. So you can come and see Version 1 and get a completely different experience to when you come to see Version 2.

Really excitingly Philip has written all of the monologues so that they are gender neutral which means we have been able to really look at what these mean from a male and a female perspective. They come to life very differently.

How did you approach directing a gender neutral piece?

A lot of it stemmed from research that I did for both a female and male perspective but also from the conversations we had as a company. It was really important for the cast to feed in to that because the only way we are going to find truth in these monologues is filtering it through them.

And, how do rehearsals work when the actors are going to be performing the same monologues - is it a collaborative process?

We started off having a couple of days together to discuss all of the monologues and decide the routes we were going to go down with them. We played around with the characters and the interpretations.

It was so useful for us all to understand the different routes we were going to take so that we could push them apart further or bring them closer together dependent on what we wanted to achieve.

After that I was working with one performer at a time in very intense rehearsals. I work incredibly collaboratively so it was a lot of throwing ideas in to the mix and playing before finding what was right between the two of us.

It was then really down to my eye to ensure that things were playing the way we wanted them to.

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Theatre interview: Naomi Westerman on co-writing, feminist twists and having a play at #VaultFestival

Actress and writer Naomi has two plays at London's Vault Festival, here she talks about Double Infemnity which she co-wrote with Jennifer Cerys and Catherine O'Shea.

Naomi westermanDouble Infemnity is described as a 'feminist interpretation of crime noir’. Given the exposure of inequality and the treatment of women working in the creative and entertainment industries in recent months, how much do you think the landscape has shifted? 

This is a great question. The landscape has massively shifted over the past few months; what counts is making sure this leads to real and lasting change.

Although I have always been aware of the issues surrounding gender inequality and harassment in theatre (that's a large part of why I founded a female theatre company Little but Fierce) the events of the last few months have made me question just how much I took that inequality for granted, and how powerless I felt when confronted by it.

I had some very negative experiences as an actress where I felt I had no recourse other than to walk away. I'm proud of Little but Fierce and all we've achieved, but all-female work is sometimes at risk of being ghettoised within the mainstream theatre industry, and it's a shame mainstream work is still sometimes an unsafe or exploitative place for women.

The responsibility shouldn't be on women to police an industry that marginalises them. I do think society and the entertainment industry are waking up to the potential and commercial and artistic power of female-led stories, and I believe we will reach gender parity.

What part did it play in inspiring the piece and what else inspired you co-writers Jennifer Cerys and Catherine O'Shea?
I came up with the idea for Double Infemnity last summer, when I was working on several wonderful but quite stressful writing commissions. I wanted to create something without those pressures where I could write whatever I wanted, that was fun and bolshy.

Then #MeToo happened, and the play felt much more urgent. I and my co-writers Jennifer Cerys and Catherine O'Shea were writing the play while the Weinstein and Spacey (et al) scandals were happening, and that definitely influenced the play.

Double Infemnity is quite comedic but there's a sharp satire belying the anger that our main character feels. We researched the period and the noir genre, but a lot was inspired by our own experiences: objectification; sexism in the workplace; double standards; period cramps...

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Fringe theatre interview: Director Mark Maughan on finding humour in asylum play The Claim

Mark Maughan  director of The Claim - courtesy of Richard Davenport
Mark Maughan director of The Claim. Photo: Richard Davenport

Interview: Director Mark Maughan talks about about his work on new play The Claim which takes a satirical look at the UK's asylum process.

 
How did you get involved with The Claim and what drew you to the project?
 
Tim Cowbury (the writer) and I started researching and developing The Claim together back in 2015 and have collaborated on it ever since. I was interested in making a piece about migration, Tim about power and language.

Once we found out about the Home Office’s flawed asylum system, we knew that this was something that needed to reach a wide audience and the subject matter also had enough dramatic potential for us to be drawn to it as artists.
 
What was your approach in the rehearsal process?
 
Grit and grace. I am lucky to be surrounded by an absolutely first-rate cast and creative team, but we only had three weeks to rehearse before we met our audience, which went by extraordinarily quickly.

I shared key information from the research and development period with everyone who was new to the team, but most of our time was spent bringing our abstracted world of a real-life process to the stage.

It was also about breaking down the text into manageable chunks and repetition, as there are a lot of words to get through in a relatively short piece.
 
The Claim takes a satirical look at the UK's asylum process - what role does humour play and how do you balance that with the drama?
 
Sadly, my reaction to what we learnt about the asylum system was often laughter – at how completely ridiculous it is. Not including that absurdity would have been to misrepresent the reality of the process.

Of course, there is also a lot of drama in the Home Office interview as someone is using their words to fight for their lives, so the piece increasingly takes on this tone as it races towards its conclusion.
 

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Fringe theatre interview: Playwright Lucy Foster on her new play Lobster and writing comedy

Lucy Foster's new play Lobster opens this week at Theatre503, here she talks about the play and writing comedy.

Tell us about Lobster - no spoilers please

Lobster opens at a party in January, where a bubbly and bright J is introduced to a hungover K. The only problem being: these two Lobster500only just broke up a few months before. As J and K run through their relationship we see the love and heartbreak of these two women, who are trying so hard to love each other - and realising that love isn't always enough. 

I imagine that writing comedy is no joke - just how challenging is it? 

For years I didn't touch comedy as it really scared me. I think when you're sat alone at your laptop it's so hard to know if something is actually funny. It's only been in the last few years that I have started putting humour into my work, and realising - oh, this works! I often find that the funniest lines come straight from real life - in the same way that you'll laugh the hardest with your friends, the best comedy is completely relatable. 

What I've found to be the most important thing about writing comedy into my plays is finding the balance between the funny and the dramatic. My favourite plays are ones that really contrast that light and dark, as the heartbreak is always sadder when it's set against the humour of the characters. I'm hoping I've been able to do the same with Lobster. 

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Fringe theatre interview: Alice in Wonderland reimagined for the #metoo landscape

Alice three trees theatreJonna Blode Hanno, Laura Thomasina Haynes and Mollie Macpherson from Three Trees Theatre talk about the inspiration and process behind their new play Alice which opens at the Landor Space in Clapham on January 9.

How would you describe the piece?
It's a devised piece inspired by Alice in Wonderland, focusing on Alice's journey into the confusing and somewhat absurd world of adulthood. The piece deals with controversial rumours about Lewis Carroll's relationship with Alice Liddell, for whom he wrote the book, but set in our time of #metoo and countless testaments of sexual abuse. 

Why Alice in Wonderland?
Alice in Wonderland is such an iconic story, but after reading it we were most fascinated by the darkness in it, and Lewis Carroll's unique perspective on the world of adulthood. When the Weinstein scandal came out and #metoo started shaking the world we felt we had to join the discussion around responsibility and power in our own industry as so much of the controversy around Lewis Carroll is still so relevant.

Tell us about the process?
We cast everyone as different characters from the book but then examined what that creature could symbolise in our world today instead of having a literal portrayal. For example, we do not have the White Rabbit sat at Lewis Caroll's dinner table but instead take inspiration from the essence of his character.  Led by our director Or Benezra-Segal we worked as a company to devise a play based on who these people are and where we thought the night would take them.

 

 

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