26 posts categorized "Interviews" Feed

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.

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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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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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