22 posts categorized "Interviews" Feed

Interview: writer Lisa Carroll on not festishising Ireland and laughing at her own jokes

Lisa Carroll's play Cuckoo opens at the Soho Theatre next week and follows two teenagers escaping bullies and seeking a new identity in another country. Here she talks about the inspiration behind the play, determining what is funny and how she got started as a playwright. 

Lisa Carroll

Cuckoo’s two central characters want to leave Dublin for London and you are an Irish playwright living in London - how much is the play based on your own experiences?

I came up with the idea for Cuckoo shortly after I made the decision to move from Dublin to London. Emigration has always been a pertinent part of the Irish experience and I wanted to explore ideas of home and what it means to leave.

Particularly after the financial crash, there was an exodus of young people from Ireland, and I knew the play could speak to that.

I used to live near Crumlin, where the play is set, and had close friends from the area.

Crumlin sits outside Dublin city centre and is full of vibrant, sparky, fascinating people, and I wanted to try and capture that unique energy on the page.

The Crumlin dialect is fast, ferocious and nuanced. I feel strongly about writing Ireland as I see it, today, rather than the wistful, nostalgic and often fetishised version Ireland we often see represented on stage.

While the idea of what it means to leave Ireland is inspired by my own experience of doing so, beyond that the play is entirely fictional, from the heightened world to the characters and events.

All I knew when I started writing Cuckoo was that I wanted to create two compelling central characters: Iona, a boisterous, larger-than-life young woman, full of spark and potential, but who was seen as simply ‘too much’ by the people around her.

Cuckoo  Soho Theatre (Courtesy of David Gill) (3)
Cuckoo, Soho Theatre. Photo by David Gill.

And Pingu, who steadfastly identifies as non-binary in a highly gendered world. Pingu has made the decision not to speak, in order not to have to constantly advocate for their right just to be themselves.

It was around these two characters and their desire to find their tribe in London that I built the play.

The play explores themes of gender identity and a sense of belonging, do you think social media makes it harder for teenagers growing up?

Being a teenager has always been a trying time and I think it always will be.

I think in general social media hasn’t changed us as a species, so much as drawn out and exacerbated our already deeply flawed nature, only in new ways.

Being a teenager has always been a phase of uncertainty trying to carve out your identity.

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Interview: Producer Katy Danbury on what spooky fun awaits at this year's London Horror Festival

In its 8th ghoulish and gory year, the London Horror Festival opens on 7 Oct at the Old Red Lion Theatre and I sat down with producer Katy Danbury to get the low down on what to expect.

A5 Final PosterWhat can we expect from the London Horror Festival?

First and foremost, enjoyment. The festival gives you a chance to escape from and purge yourself of the real-life horrors happening outside of the theatre.

You are united with your fellow audience members in an intimate space and together you enter an imaginary world where you can shiver, scream, laugh or spew (please don’t!) out your fears.

I like to think that the festival acts as a gateway for those who don’t often (or never) go to the theatre but want a spooky, fun Halloween experience.

Grand Guignol was popular in the early 20th Century but horror isn’t a genre that is often seen on stage these days, why do you think that is? 

To be honest, it is a tricky genre to perform well. People don’t want to see the actor clumsily place the blood capsule in their mouth or accidentally expose the vomit hose or see the string that’s pulling the floating chair.

You break the illusion, you break the suspense and it all unravels quickly from there as the audience lose interest.

Sadly, I have seen large-scale productions on the West End stage get it very wrong – this can do a lot of damage to the reputation of the genre within the theatre world.

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Interview: Director Jimmy Walters on fun and musicality in his revival of WWI-set Square Rounds, Finborough Theatre

"Having these six munitionettes tell the story adds a theatrical quality to the play in a play that provides a lot of fun."

Getting its first staging for three decades, Tony Harrison's World War I-set play Square Rounds is based on true events and explores the devastating impact of chemical warfare and weapons of mass destruction.

Square Rounds (Rehearsal Images) - Cast_2  courtesy of Samuel Taylor
Jimmy Walters in rehearsal with the cast of Square Rounds. Photo: Samuel Taylor

Director Jimmy Walters talks about its relevance today and paring the play down for an intimate performance space.

Square Rounds was last performed 30 years ago at the National Theatre, why is it ripe for revival?

It feels more relevant now than it was in 1992 in some ways. It tackles gun control, the power of trigger-happy populist rhetoric and addresses the ongoing conflict between the ideologies of Christianity and Islam.

It has an all-female cast, what dynamic does that add to the play and storytelling?

We open with six munitionettes in a factory. At the very same time, these women were taking on the roles of men they go one step further and play the men with a bit of magic involved.

Having these six munitionettes tell the story adds a theatrical quality to the play in a play that provides a lot of fun.

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Interview: Writer Ed Edwards on humour and politics in The Political History of Smack and Crack

Fresh from Edinburgh Fringe: The Political History of Smack and Crack draws on writer Ed Edwards' own experience of narcotics dependency to examine how the politics of the 80s trapped people in poverty and addiction.

Ed Edwards
Ed Edwards

Here the former circus performer talks about the importance of entertainment in theatre ahead of the play's London run at Soho Theatre.

Why is this an important story to tell?

In the political sense, I think it's a question for the progressive movement of knowing your enemy, of course, the enemy changes its face, but its heart remains the same. This is what they did then, what lengths will they go to now? It's a question too of spreading ideas, keeping the truth alive - it's part of what Fidel Castro called for before he died: a battle of ideas.

How important is humour when exploring serious topics such as drug addiction and what part does it play in the narrative?

I think entertainment is the most important thing, humour is a big part of that, but it doesn't mean you can't make people cry too.

You’ve written novels, for radio and TV as well as the stage but you used to be a circus performer - how does it compare?

It's a lot safer writing plays than juggling fire on a slack rope while talking to an audience - but probably not as much fun. Seriously, it's part of what I was saying before, about entertaining an audience.

If you're doing a circus show in Huyton Liverpool and you don't entertain the audience, the kids'll come and take your gear, so I've kind of grown up thinking that was important.

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Interview: Former child actor Hatty Jones talks about her first play That Girl, Old Red Lion

Hatty Jones draws on her own experience as a child actor, plucked from obscurity to star in a big budget film, for her debut play That Girl which explores growing up and female friendships.

Hatty JonesYou’ve made short films before, what made you choose theatre as a medium for this particular story?

I had wanted to write a play for a while, and this story felt like the best fit.

I wanted the audience to be in the room with the characters, to understand their motives and watch the action play out in real time. It felt necessary to this particular narrative.

And I love that the audience might feel differently about it every night.

That Girl is based on your own personal experiences, did that make it hard to write or was it a cathartic exercise?

It felt like a natural step to write about something that was such a big part of my childhood, especially as it was such an unusual situation. 

The story centres on two periods of big life changes, one of which most will be familiar, the other very few will have experienced - what are you hoping audiences take away?

I hope the audience can relate to all the characters - including Hatty. Not everyone will have experienced being a child actor, but they may have similar feelings about growing up.

The play is about the reality of adult life, the loss of innocence which everyone goes through. 

What's the process from stage to page been like? 

I play Hatty, in the play so I'm very involved and we are currently in the middle of the rehearsal process.

Continue reading "Interview: Former child actor Hatty Jones talks about her first play That Girl, Old Red Lion" »


Edinburgh Fringe interview: Writer Kat Woods on frustration with theatre elitism and breaking working class stereotypes

Award-winning writer/director Kat Woods returns to the Edinburgh Fringe with Killymuck, here she talks about breaking working-class stereotypes - and why you should always perform like its press night. 

What inspired you to write Killymuck?

Kat woods photo
Kat Woods

Killymuck is a piece of theatre inspired by my own council estate, benefit upbringing. I have become increasingly frustrated with the elitism that exists within the realm of theatre and the constant portrayal of the benefit class stereotype which is perpetuated in the media. This constant negative ideology that becomes almost biblical rhetoric needs to be rewritten. 

Why is it important this story is told?

If we don't start to tell stories from all classes and all minorities then we are not representing society as a whole. How do we open up the doors of the theatre to the underclasses or the working classes if they are not reflected in the narratives that are being told?

You won an award for a previous fringe piece - Belfast Boy - does that make it easier or harder coming back?

I've actually had two pieces on since Belfast Boy - Wasted and Mule. I found it incredibly difficult coming back after having a success.

My follow-up play was Wasted, a piece about consent. That was in 2015 and I think we may have been a year or two too early with it. It has had more success now and is returning to America this year. 

I wasn't really mentally prepared for how tough I would find it. The scrutiny can be so overwhelming and it’s very easy to slip mentally when reading reviews and comments on the piece of work that you have worked so hard on. 

 

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Edinburgh Fringe interview: 'We don’t go to the theatre to watch sane people talking about normal things' - Simon Evans and David Aula

Not content with performing one play at the Edinburgh Fringe director/performers Simon Evans and David Aula are performing two - back to back. The two plays - The Vanishing Man and The Extinction Event - are described as a 'marriage of poignant theatre and spellbinding close-up magic'.

Two plays back to back, are you mad?

The Vanishing Man (Simon Evans and David Aula) - courtesy of Michael Wharley_3
The Vanishing Man and The Extinction Event (Simon Evans and David Aula). Photo: Michael Wharley

Probably, but we don’t go to the theatre to watch sane people talking about normal things. We’re actually very lucky: both these shows are very audience-centred. We don’t like to throw “audience involvement” around much, as it tends to induce feelings of horror and fear of embarrassment, but we do ask a thing or two of the very kind people who’ve chosen to see us (and not just “Pick a card”). 

The audience is our uncredited third character, and that means the show takes on an energy and momentum that you just don’t get from more there’s-a-fourth-wall pieces. The energy is infectious, so we tend to come out the other end more elated than fatigued.

That said, David is also the recipient of a brand new baby boy. It’s possible that the added pressure of looking after a one-month-old might be the straw breaking our camel’s back. Also, Simon tends to get very sleepy around 3 pm and that’s far from ideal in a 2.10pm-4.40pm slot.

Honestly (and I’m aware these words may come back to haunt me) it’s two 60 minute shows separated by a generous 30-minute interval, so we’ve got it better than a lot of other actors currently treading the boards. I’m optimistic. What I mean is, you certainly won’t see two tired performers up there.

How are you preparing?

That’s a good question when you consider that there are two separate elements in the shows we’re presenting. The more standard elements (dialogue/staging/storytelling) are handled in a fairly standard way.

Both of us are established theatre directors (Simon currently has Killer Joe on in the West End with a Donmar show coming up, and David’s production of The Cement Garden recently headlined the Vault Festival) so we enjoy the process of building the show up physically.

We’ve spent a lot of time in each other’s company as we've written the script, re-written it, shown it, learned from it, re-written it, tried it again, cut it, cut more of it, re-written it, learned it, worked out where to stand while we say it.

On the other hand, our plays are also magic shows of a kind. There are individual tricks and a more arching idea that an entire show can be an effect in-and-of-itself if handled right.

Magic is entirely audience led; you can see a play that refuses to acknowledge an audience and still think “That was a good play”, but a magic trick which fails to amaze/delight/confound an audience, is a dead thing.

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Interview: Circa's hula hoop artist Jessica Connell talks making Peepshow and common misconceptions about acrobatics

Jessica Connell is a hula hoop artist performing in Circa's Peepshow at the Underbelly. She talks about creating the show, training schedules and popular misconceptions about acrobatics.

062718TOR618UnderbellyCircaPeepShowProduction001
Jessica Connell performs in Circa's Peepshow

What was the inspiration behind Circa’s Peepshow?

The inspiration behind the show is about seeing and being seen. We were inspired by the idea of how people see one another. The action we take, how we dress, what we say all influence how we are seen by others. 

Why should people come and see it?

Peepshow is a raw, risky, honest show that I am still excited to have helped create and be performing. We are seven acrobats on stage. We work together as an ensemble and we all have something to share with the audience. There is humour, great skills, great music including an original composition and we have worked hard to explore new acts and styles to express our art-form.
 
The lighting is also exciting. There are moments in the show where I am performing acrobatics in different styles of lighting I have never performed acrobatics or hula hoops in before. It creates great challenges and opportunities for us in our show.

How do you put a show together?

The Ensemble with our Director Yaron Lifschitz and associate director Libby McDonald work to explore concepts and themes. Sometimes our director comes in with a track or an idea and we explore that idea physically.

There is a lot of experimentation and a show can change a lot from day one. Some ideas change beyond recognition, others grow and some don’t make it in the show at all.

It is also a very free environment to work in. We have lots of discussions and are free to bring ideas into the room.  

What is the hardest bit?

Everyone will find different aspects of the show hard depending on their role. I perform hula hoops with the ensemble; they lift me, twist me and throw hoops to me.

Performing my skills like this is new and an exciting and challenging act we have created for Peepshow. 

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Edinburgh Fringe interview: Actor Angus Castle-Doughty on untold gangster stories in Tobacco Road

Incognito Theatre Company, winners of the Les Enfant Terribles' 2018 Greenwich Partnership Award are back at the Edinburgh Fringe with a new piece Tobacco Road. Actor Angus Castle-Doughty talks about subverting the gangster genre with untold stories and gives his top tips for first-time Fringe attendees.

Angus Doughty - courtesy of Jacob Sacks-Jones
Angus Castle-Doughty. Photo by Jacob Sacks-Jones

What can the audience expect from Tobacco Road?

With Tobacco Road, we have worked really hard to make to make an exhilarating, cinematic experience for the audience. Storytelling is at the heart of our philosophy as a company and Tobacco Road follows the rise and fall of five young men and women in the gritty underworld of post-WW1 London.

We have tried to create a living, breathing world on stage that brings London in the 1920s to life and together with stunning physical sequences and an exciting story the audience will hopefully be left catching their breath.

Why should this story be told?

On the surface, Tobacco Road is a gangster story. However, we are also really interested in subverting audience expectation and exploring the stories that are otherwise left untold; we look at the epic strength and brutality of London’s Victorian Lady gangs and how they survived in such a male-dominated world.

We look at the effect the Great War had on the young men that were forced to come home and piece together their lives that had been otherwise shattered, before trying to carry on as normal. We look at the intensity of pressure that post-war masculinity placed on both young men and women alike in London.

Every physical sequence we do in Tobacco Road is to serve these stories and we are really excited to tell them.

 

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Edinburgh Fringe interview: Director Madelaine Moore on bloody unlikeable female characters in play Ladykiller

Director Madelaine Moore talks about Ladykiller, its charmingly murderous female lead, preparing for the Fringe and what she's looking forward to seeing. And writer Madeline Gould pops in to talk about creating murderous characters.

Madelaine MooreWhy is Ladykiller a must see at this year's Edinburgh Fringe?

Ladykiller really is unlike any character you have seen on stage before. She is unlikeable. She says and does all the things you might fantasise about doing when someone wrongs you, but wouldn't dare... mainly because they would mostly be illegal.

She's a character who toes the line between victim and perpetrator with such saucy alacrity.

She manages to charm the pants off you while covered in blood up to her elbows, and with a dead body at her feet.

At previews as well as loud guffaws we've had a woman mime a tiny fist pump while quietly hissing "YESSSS!" and another who would not (could not) look at Hannah (McClean who plays 'Her') throughout the show.

My favourite audience quote so far has been, "so dark it was like a beautiful black hole."

With that darkness, we wanted to push the boundaries, because for us it was really about answering the question, how much is too much? It's going to be very interesting to see how audiences answer that! 

Writer Madeline Gould is described as having a knowledge of serial killers, women in crime and all things generally gruesome which is 'second to none’ - dare we ask how come?

So Maddie, and me to a certain extent, both have a fascination with people who kill; serial killers in particular.

I used to have a collection of books about serial killers that lived next to my bed until I realised it might look a bit weird to anyone who made it in that far, so I got rid of them. But Maddie is a voracious reader, podcast fan and researcher so she's really gone in. 

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