23 posts categorized "Interviews" Feed

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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Edinburgh Fringe interview: Su Pollard on her fringe debut and what she wants to see while she's there

Su Pollard will be making her Edinburgh Fringe debut starring in Harpy, a play written especially for her by Fringe-first winner Philip Meeks.

Su_Pollard-hary-edinburgh-fringeIn this preview interview, she talks about playing Birdie, a woman ostracised by her neighbours because of her hoarding, embarking on her first fringe and what she wants to see when she isn't performing.

How does it feel to have a play specially commissioned for you?
 
When I first met the playwright Philip Meeks about three years ago he said he was going to write something for me.  

I don’t think either of us thought much more about it until Suzanna Rosenthal suggested it because we knew each other.  

I’ve often been asked to go to Edinburgh but I’ve either been busy with other shows or the right play hasn’t been sent my way.  

What’s fantastic about this is I’ve been there from the start and Philip’s told me about every stage of his thinking and the writing process.  I feel as if I’ve really helped to create the role.

What was it about Birdie that made you want to play her?
 
Because she’s a woman of my age with a story to tell and believe me when you hit your sixties the great parts become few and far between.  

As soon as Philip said her story was about her hoarding the whole concept of hoarding seemed to be everywhere. In the papers, on the telly, I had friends admitting to suffering from it.

I realised it’s a phenomenon that people are fascinated by and it’s a dilemma people are facing increasingly because of the times we’re living in.  

So Birdie's story is very real and relevant and touches many people.

Her story also touches on the idea of mental health and how we all probably suffer from it. But what makes society decide who’s mad and who’s not these days when all our values and ideas seem to be getting eroded away on a daily basis.
 

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Interview: From art installation to stage, Richard Butchins on play inspired by friend with Asperger's

Writer and filmmaker Richard Butchins talks about his play 213 Things About Me at the Battersea Arts Centre which was inspired by Rose, his long-time friend, who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in her 30s.

Richard ButchinsRose committed suicide the same year she was diagnosed.

“We were having a conversation on Skype and I asked her to write a list. It was that standard thing where you ask someone to say five good things about themselves. I thought it might be a useful focus for her.

"When I spoke to her later in the week she said: 'I did that list. I’ve got 213 things.' What she had to say was touching, funny, moving and sad.”

Your background is photography and documentaries and 213 Things About Me started life as a video installation, what inspired you to turn it into a play?

I always thought that she (Rose) had a lot of interesting, funny and insightful things to say about her condition - discovering I was on the spectrum made it inevitable I would have to write something, and given her lovely songs - a play seemed the best route.

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Interview: Wearing two hats with her new play - acting is the dream but writing keeps Felicity Huxley-Miners sane

Felicity Huxley-Miners talks about writing and acting in her new play In The Shadow of The Mountain, juggling the two roles and what her dream theatre production would be like (hint: it would have a big cast).

Felicity Huxley-Miners
Actor/Writer Felicity Huxley-Miners

The new play (more details at the bottom) is a love story about two people with Borderline Personality Disorder inspired by her meeting a woman with BPD and the production is supported by MIND.

You’ve written the play and you are also performing in it alongside David Shears, did you always have yourself in mind when you were writing?

Yes, I knew I wanted to play Ellie when I was writing but I really had to shut off that part of my brain when I was creating the play as you can start to censor and shape it around yourself instead of being true to a character and their story.

Thinking ‘I don’t want to say that’ or worrying about your character being likeable can be quite limiting so I really had to shut off that side of my brain.

I’ve found being an actor does help me write, as both are all about getting into different people’s heads and working out what makes them tick.

Which do you prefer - writing or acting - and which do you find the most challenging?

Acting has always been the dream and what I’ve funnelled most of my energy into over the years.

I’ve only started writing in the last few years and have been lucky enough to be a part of the Soho Theatre’s Writers Lab this year. I’ve found writing incredibly cathartic.

Acting can be a very perilous career and a lot of time the control is taken out of the actor’s hands.

Being proactive and creating my own work has really kept me sane in the leaner times and means that I always have a creative outlet even if it's just me sitting in a café having vivid hallucinations about my own fantasy world.

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Q&A Guleraana Mir on challenging cultural and gender stereotypes in 'irreverent, dark comedy' Coconut, Ovalhouse

Writer Guleraana Mir talks about her new play Coconut, in which she wants to show that there is far more to British Asian women than is commonly portrayed.

22 - Guleraana Mir
Guleraana Mir

What is Coconut about and what inspired you to write it?

The term Coconut refers to someone who is brown on the outside and white on the inside. It is mostly used as a derogatory term, but that is how the protagonist Rumi, a British Pakistani woman self-identifies.

The play charts the course of the relationship between Rumi and Simon, a white man who converts to Islam to marry her.

It’s a story of two people trying to navigate what being in an intercultural and interracial marriage looks like when they’re not even sure where they fit in society individually.

Back in 2015 when I was asked to write the original 15-minute one-woman piece for Ladylogue! (an evening of one-woman shorts) I was given the extra caveat to consider what I wasn’t writing about: My heritage.

Of course, I wanted to meet the challenge but I was also inspired by the fact that I’ve never seen a character like Rumi on stage before.

We don’t have much range in our British Asian representation on stage, or screen. It’s all Bollywood-inspired wedding-based drama, colonialism, terrorists or doctors.

Some of us don’t fit into any of those boxes as people, so why should our characters?

It’s your first full-length production, what has the journey been like?

Long. No one ever tells you that theatre takes time, especially if you’re producing.

The Thelmas are co-producing Coconut with Ovalhouse and we’ve known for over a year that this production would happen, it’s just been a case of getting everything in place so that we’re ready to pack the theatre with an exciting and diverse audience once we open.

Before that we spent over a year developing the play with support from Park Theatre’s Script Accelerator and New Diorama’s BAMER program, so a lot of work has gone into this.

I’m really excited to show off the play in its final form as it’s undergone some serious rewrites since our last industry reading.

How involved are you in the rehearsal process?

Not very. Since the last rewrite, I’m comfortable with where the script is at, and I trust the creative team with it.

If they need clarification on something I know they will reach out, otherwise director Madelaine [Moore] has a strong vision for the piece and I trust her completely.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that once it’s all put together it’s going to look better than I could have ever imagined.

What I am doing is admin - helping organize the pick-up and drop-off of set, source props etc. all much less glamorous than sitting in a rehearsal room chewing the end of a pen, but ultimately much more useful.

Coconut is a described as ‘an irreverent, dark comedy', what role does humour play in the telling of this story?

Humour is essential otherwise when the play takes a dark turn the audience would just feel battered.

Most of the humour comes from the character of Rumi and her outlook on life.

She’s the kind of person that approaches everything lightheartedly with a smile and a one-liner.

In the play humour is what lulls Rumi (and the audience) into a false sense of security, as she’s constantly brushing everything off with a joke and so doesn’t realise what is going on until it’s too late.

 

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Q&A: Josh Roche on directing 'thriller' Plastic and who he'd 'commit crimes' to work with

JMK Trust 2017 award winner Josh Roche (My Name is Rachel Corrie) is directing Kenneth Emson's new play Plastic at the Old Red Lion, here he talks about working on the play, 'entertaining' theatre and who he'd really like to work with.

Tell us a bit about Plastic and what drew you to the project.

Plastic is the most eloquent play I've ever read on the subject of adolescence. 

I'm twenty eight, so I don't know if this will change, but my teenage years are the toughest years I've had to get through.

Josh RocheThe combined pressures of sex, loneliness, self-image and a hundred other things, create a brutal cauldron of self-defence and bitterness. It's competitive, nasty, vengeful and manic.

Plastic makes us feel deeply how the seeds of our adult insecurities are planted in our teens.
 
This is a new play by Kenneth Emson with whom you’ve worked with before, does that help with bringing the piece to life and how collaborative is the rehearsal process?

Yeah we've got pretty efficient with our work. We can usually get the important notes done on the first pint these days, which frees up time for complaining about the industry for the rest of the meeting....

More seriously Kenny is an incredibly experienced writer, far more experienced than me. He's humble and exacting in equal measure, which makes him a dream to work with.
 
You say you like to produce 'entertaining political work’, how do you define ‘entertainment’?


Well entertainment makes you feel something, whether that's laughter, tears or horror. We're all humans and extreme feelings are novel, unusual and important to us. My aim is to move audiences to feel, using political stories.

How they respond to the story is up to them, but the main aim of entertainment is to move people.  If you don't enjoy being moved, then I'd give Plastic a miss.

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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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