Interview with Thomas Martin, Director of If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You @ The Vaults

Director: Thomas Martin on If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You by John O’Donovan.

14th February- 25th February

The Vaults

To book tickets – click here


What originally attracted you to work on If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You?

The characters and the place. John O’Donovan has written two charming, complex young men, each of them speaking in strikingly differentiated language – it’s proof of the writing that I could imagine vividly not only what each of them was thinking when I first read it, but also where each of them was from. Mikey and Casey’s Ennis, though you sense it’s not the easiest of places to live, especially for young gay men, still feels so full of life that you want to stay there even after the play is done.

 

What’s it like re-staging the piece now, at the vault festival? 

We’ve already restaged it for its four week tour of Ireland, where it’s played at Project Arts Centre in Dublin, Glor in Ennis, and the Mick Lally Theatre in Galway. These spaces are dramatically different in size and configuration, so we’ve always had to be quite quick on our feet in terms of staging the show! VAULT is end-on, so audiences will be getting the more widescreen version of this play.

 

The show has been praised for the chemistry between the two leads, did you do any particular work in rehearsal to help establish that rapport?

Luckily, Josh and Alan get on like a house on fire outside of rehearsals, so we had no trouble developing that connection in the room, but this time round we were lucky enough to work with movement director Sue Mythen. She helped the actors access not only a more realistic physical relationship to the roof, but also a deeper physical relationship with each other, which reads wonderfully on stage. Improvisations on the characters’ historical interactions were also really helpful.

 

The play deals with a lot of complex and difficult issues: homophobia, domestic abuse, poverty — how do you deal with bringing such weighty issues to the stage?

You take them seriously, and really make use of them. The play doesn’t discuss these things, nor would I say it’s about them, but they are the facts about the characters, and any good actor will use those as fuel for their performance. The difference in experience between two people is always potent – there’s a tiny shift in the play when Casey asks Mikey (who is unemployed, lives on the dole, deals a bit to get by) if he’s ever been kicked out of a flat by his landlord. Casey has, and that shift in status was a great discovery that we only made by taking the difficult circumstances of the characters seriously.

 

What element of the show are you most excited for audiences to see?

The ending! Wow, the ending! This is a sneaky way of making sure nobody walks out, but it’s also a really good ending.

 

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

I think people are always surprised by how much they think of the characters afterwards. Loads of audience members have remarked on wanting to know what happens to them next, and I think it’s testament to the writing that Mikey and Casey feel real enough to have that sort of effect.

Any advice for aspiring theatre professionals?

If you don’t need to be doing it, if it’s not the thing that makes you happiest in the world, probably don’t do it.

 

Aside from ‘If We Got Some More Cocaine…’ what’s a book/production/piece of art/film you think more people should see? 

Simon Longman’s play Gundog has just opened at the Royal Court, and it’s a magnificent bit of work.

 


If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You by John O’Donovan.

14th February- 25th February

The Vaults

To book tickets – click here

 

Be Prepared, Ian Bonar/Rob Watt @ The Vaults

7 – 11 February, 2018

Written & Performed by Ian Bonar
Directed by Rob Watt

 

Be Prepared - Edinburgh Fringe 2016 (Photo by The Other Richard) 6

Photos courtesy of The Other Richard

 

A heart-breaking but hilarious play about one man struggling to remember while another finds himself unable to forget.

Be Prepared is a return of Ian Bonar’s first play, first shown at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016. An alumnus from the acclaimed Royal Court Writers group, Be Prepared is very well written and you can appreciate the language and the text as an audience member.

An equally talented performer, Bonar is engaging and sensitive on stage and  takes the audience on a whirlwind emotional journey. The performance is gripping through a majority of the piece, only suffering from an occasional hiccup in pacing. Despite this, Be Prepared keeps the audience on their toes with some very funny and unexpected surprises throughout the play.

The concept of ‘one wrong digit can change a person’s life forever’ could have been clearer in the piece; however I would recommend this show for its brilliant script, storytelling, and a hilarious and engaging performance from Ian Bonar. It’s definitely a show not to be missed at the Vault Theatre Festival.

 

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Think of England, AIAWTC @ The Vaults

Wednesday 7th – Sunday 11th, 2018

by Madeline Gould
Directed by Tilly Branson

Leila Sykes and Matthew Biddulph in Think of England, credit of Ali Wright

Photography by Ali Wright

 

Based on a real-life WW2 scandal, audiences become part of a crowd sheltering from the Blitz and meet a pair of women who set up a tea dance to raise moral. When some Canadian pilots join the fun, they threaten to uncover some dangerous secrets.

This show is brilliant. It’s delightful and charming, and oh boy it is fun! A powerful and moving drama, with playful characters and joyful air, it entertains and scandalises.

The cast are just wonderful. Special mentions to the boisterous and irreverent Madeline Gould (Vera), who welcomes you into the world of the show with a roguish smile and a sly wink, and to the utterly lovable and lovelorn Stefan Menaul as Cpl. Frank Lamb – whom you spent most of the show trying not to run up and cuddle.

Leila Sykes gives a subtle and heartfelt Bette across from the slime-ball that is Pip Brignall’s Lt. Tom Gagnon, who makes a wonderful and cynical antagonist, vying with Matthew Biddulph’s charismatic Lt. Bill Dunne to be top dog.

They’re deeply empathetic characters, perfectly portrayed and wittily written. A big congrats to the cast, they really bring this show alive.

Leila Sykes and Madeline Gould in Think of England, credit of Ali Wright (2)
It really is superbly playful, and hearing bombs drop and giggling together at the repartee and love triangles, I began to feel an odd sense of community with my fellow patrons, as we all smiled sheepishly at each other in an impromptu jive lesson and take part in the raffle where you stand the chance of winning the luxurious prize of two fresh eggs.

This is all wonderfully balanced with the well-acted and fiery drama that unfolds before you.

The Vaults is a perfect venue. Though the acoustics occasionally aren’t kind and some of the pacing could be tighter, the cavernous and dripping hall sucks you into the world of the play before spiting you out the other side touched and grinning from ear to ear.

 

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The Moor, Rive Productions @ The Old Red Lion Theatre

6th February-3rd March 2018

by Catherine Lucie
Directed by Blythe Stewart

The Moor, Old Red Lion Theatre - Jill McAusland (courtesy of The Other Richard)_2_preview

I have a soft spot for pub theatre.

To compete with the elements, the space, the noise of the pub and the traffic and outside world. Fringe shows put together by people who are passionate about creating and putting together things with limited time or funding.

It always makes me feel like the girl who visited the Edinburgh Fringe at 15 years old and thought; ‘Phwoar! This is bloody exciting’

How then, have Rive Production’s ‘The Moor’ managed to expand and evolve the dimensions of the Old Red Lion Theatre to a vast space of land?

This did not at one moment feel like ‘pub theatre’.

It felt epic.

I walked into the space pre show and took a breath. Cliched but true.

I was utterly impressed and surprised at Holly Pigott’s innovative design. She managed to transform a small space into the world of the Moor. It felt reminiscent of Johannes Schütz’s epic and deteriorating design for Benedict Andrew’s Three Sister’s at the Young Vic in 2012.

Rubble swept the back of the stage, a very minimalist house setting and rotating muted Moor designed backdrops that hung from the ceiling (eventually moved by the actors when passing to alter the space).

The Moor, Old Red Lion Theatre - Oliver Britten and Jill McAusland (courtesy of The Other Richard)_2_preview

It really brought us to the Moor and engaged us with the changes and shifts in space, world and time.

Bronagh, a young woman isolated in a vaste expanse of land; The Moor.

Feeling increasingly claustrophobic, incited by her surroundings, relationship, child and life, then becomes involved in an investigation with the police which starts to invade her own life and mind.

This was a fight for her own sanity.

Jill McAusland’s Bronagh was perfection. We as the audience felt like an extension of her mind. She spoke to us as if to herself. Childlike, innocent and silently tortured by her own life.

Being in the same space as her boyfriend, Graeme (Oliver Britten) for the first time, I saw a woman who kissed her partner for her own salvation. There was a tango going on between them; who would win? Her mind or his brutish and simplistic nature. Her desperation was palpable.

The Moor, Old Red Lion Theatre - Jill McAusland and Oliver Britten (courtesy of The Other Richard)_2_preview

Another element of the design which worked so well, was the faceless, weighted anonymous baby of Bronagh and Graeme’s. It added a whole other element to her world and mind slowly falling apart, as although I believed entirely the baby was real (thanks to Bronagh’s great connection with it) it’s facelessness brought me further into her psyche.

Jonny Magnanti’s Pat (the police officer working with Bronagh) was paternal, grounded and real. This wasn’t a ‘police officer’; this was a man with his own world going on whose own past intertwined with Bronagh’s.

The Moor, Old Red Lion Theatre - Jill McAusland and Jonny Magnanti (courtesy of The Other Richard)_preview

This show’s great juxtaposition of a woman living in a vast countryside space, yet feeling so utterly isolated was truly resonating. This was a testament to the excellence of Catherine Lucie’s writing, beautifully crafted into a truly breathing and living world by Blythe Stewart’s direction.

I am drawn back to my interview with Blythe Stewart, and how great theatre makes you question your own life and your own world views. What is real and unreal?

This show was entirely ambitious and managed to achieve every one of it’s ambitions.

I see a great future for this play.

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Her Not Him, Lughnacy Productions @ Theatre503

30th January – 3rd February, 2018

Written by Joanne Fitzgerald
Directed by Amy Lawrence

Her Not Him Extras - Ali Wright-42

Photography by Ali Wright

 

‘My preference is for non-arseholes, but they are quite hard to find’

Jemima’s answer to Bea when asked about her sexuality and what made me frantically scribble it away and press into my memory as something that makes this show entirely stand out.

It’s not often, in my experience, to see a show based on LBTQ relationships where sexuality became something that did not signify the characters but just was. It existed. People loved and lost each other.

I feel like I want to pin that quote on a badge on my coat at all times.

I’m going to directly quote the summary from Theatre503’s website as I feel my words won’t eloquently put across the plot of the play or give too much away.

Bea, an older woman, comes out late in life. She nabs herself a young lover, Ellie, who has aspirations of starting a family and putting them both on a path to domestic bliss. Then Bea meets Jemima, who catches her eye and steals her away from Ellie. It all falls apart when Bea finally meets James, the boy beneath Jemima’s make-up, wigs and glamour, who doesn’t excite her quite as much.

What I really loved about this production was the embracing of simplicity.

The design was simple yet stunning; two moving distressed (in a fashionable way) metal walls on wheels and two chairs and a table.

These were choreographed into a seamless movement and dance inspired transition between each scene. They made a beauty of scene changes by not ignoring it but embracing it and it added a physical story and enhancement of the plot without adding extra clunky exposition dialogue. We understood the changes of character and their relationships further from this beautiful movement.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable production. A very grounded, mature and feline like Bea (Orla Sanders) who struggles to open up to those close to her starts the play with Ellie (Leah Kirby), who is a rather in your face, energetic extrovert next to Bea’s calm, still nature. Opposites attract or from what I saw last night; ultimately repel.

 

This is all chucked up in the air when Bea meet’s Jemima (John James), a gorgeous, outspoken transvestite. From the moment, Jemima walked on stage, she brought on a different youthful, truthful energy, that made me drawn to watching her and her interactions with Bea.

Another exquisite moment from Jemima, was the unveiling and undressing of her by Bea, which I thought was utterly sublime. She became so childlike, innocent and tender. It really showed the intimacy and shyness of that first sexual encounter with a new partner.

I feel slightly mean for coming so early in the run as I felt that the actors and their intimacy and connection between each other took the first two scenes to warm up and I would be interested to see if this alters later in the run.

Bea’s fight to open up to those around her was the arc that ran through this piece and ultimately ended it.

For my taste, I had an issue with the ending of this play. It all wrapped up rather neatly and sweetly with no grudges held and I guess the thing I would take from that is that friendship and genuine human connection is more important than sexual or romantic relationships in the end. But I would be intrigued to see, how this could have ended differently or possibly more honestly.

What I most enjoyed about this play and what I would take from it, is that it showed the awkwardness, genuineness, closing and opening and beauty of dating irregardless of gender and sexuality. A play that made you laugh but also made you reflect on your own relationships and interactions.

The next time someone questions you about your sexuality or preferences, just answer;

 

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Medea Electronica, Pecho Mama @ The Ovalhouse

30th January – 10 February
Created and performed by Pecho Mama: Mella Faye, Sam Cox and Alex Stanford

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With Medea Electronica, Pecho Mama have found some kind of sorcery.

The piece, a retelling of the tragedy of Medea, is half play, half live concept album. The members of Pecho Mama persistently blur the line between these two halves. They place their synthesizer and electronic drum kit prominently on either side of the stage. Front and centre is a mic stand. The stage looks like it’s set up for a concert, rather than Greek tragedy. It’s about to host both.

As the piece begins, we come to understand how this is possible.

The play dances effortlessly between song and scene. One moment, Mella Faye’s Medea will be comforting her children, or speaking to their teacher, or confronting her traitorous husband. Then, instantly, seamlessly, her reaction to that scene is pulsing all around us. It’s broadcast through musicians Sam Cox and Alex Stanford’s instruments and Mella Faye’s own soulful voice. Through this back and forth Pecho Mama weave an unbroken thread of tension through the piece. This thread grows tighter and tighter until, of course, it snaps. To glorious and terrifying effect.

Mella Faye portrays Medea as a meek, ordinary woman, pushed to the extreme end of violence by circumstance. As an audience we view her transformation with a mixture of fear, awe, and pity. We are conflicted. It’s electrifying to see her claw back her power, but the lengths to which she goes are horrifying.

Propelling the piece forward is Pecho Mama’s evocative, exciting music. Cox and Stanford’s synths are constantly driving the piece forward. They are ever-present, accompanying moments of dialogue with atmospheric drones or sharp, percussive beats. They give the piece a persistent musicality and rhythm that keeps the story flowing forward at a breakneck pace. They make music that feels true to the story’s roots as an ancient verse play, and keeps the intensity building until its inevitable breaking point. It helps as well that they’re just fun to listen to, mixing elements of 80’s synth-electronic with prog-rock to form a suitably epic and energetic sound, cleverly composed and performed with panache.

What makes the piece so spellbinding as a whole, however, is how every element comes together to amplify the emotional intensity of the piece. Medea delivers all her lines into her microphone. This, counter-intuitively, makes the piece feel more intimate. Her voice comes from speakers all around the audience, making us feel like we’re experiencing the story from inside her mind. The only people on stage are Faye, Stanford and Cox, and of the three of them only Faye plays a character. The rest of the world flows around us, just out of view. Characters pass through the world invisibly, represented solely by their voices. It is testament to the skill of all of the actors involved, and sound designer Simon Booth, that I could not tell if these voices were pre-recorded or performed live off-stage. Every moment felt completely natural, despite the layers of technological artifice.

Seeing it feels like witnessing magic, as Pecho Mama seem to conjure a whole world out of thin air. This spellworking is facilitated by Jack Weir and Mella Faye’s excellent lighting design, which begins subtle and atmospheric but gradually becomes more striking and impressionistic as our heroine’s inhibitions are stripped away; and Marie Kirkby’s costuming, which highlights Medea’s transformation beautifully.

Through their combined efforts, Pecho Mama seem to summon the truth of the story, driven forward by their music and channelled through Mella Faye.

The effect is an exquisite piece of theatre, brilliantly executed and not quite like anything I’ve seen before.

 

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Ken, Hampstead Downstairs @ The Bunker

24 January – 24 February

By Terry Johnson

Directed by Lisa Spirling

Starring Terry Johnson & Jeremy Stockwell

Ken, The Bunker - Terry Johnson and Jeremy Stockwell (courtesy of Robert Day)_preview.jpeg

Photo Courtesy of Robert Day

Watching Ken at the Bunker, it is immediately apparent how much love the performers feel for their subject.

Terry Johnson’s piece, performed by himself and Jeremy Stockwell, is a celebration of Ken Campbell, the legendary theatre maker and comic performer. Both Stockwell and Johnson knew Campbell personally, and the love they feel for the man is obvious in the stories they tell about him.

The play describes the great influence that Campbell had on the performers themselves and many other theatre-makers. It tells the story of Johnson’s first meeting with Campbell, his participation in the 22-hour long surrealist marathon The Warp, and a montage of other encounters from throughout the artist’s life.

The episodes themselves are all incredibly funny, the kind of wild theatre legends that one can hardly believe. Watching it feels like gathering round at a party to hear crazy stories from a couple of old friends. The tales feel like the kind that have been repeated many times, and have grown in the re-telling without losing any of their core truth. They feel like a collection of theatrical legends. And there is something truly wonderful about the sharing of legends by storytellers as skilled as these.

Johnson writes and speaks with humour and warmth. He presents the piece from a carpeted podium, alternating between narrating and acting directly in the episodes described. The play includes a touching coming of age tale from Johnson’s point of view. We learn how Ken acted as a sort of shamanistic mentor to Johnson, constantly goading him into pushing his own boundaries.

Johnson presents this memoir with remarkable generosity. He shows us his evolution from awkwardly arrogant youth to grounded, mature artist. He presents himself as the perpetual observer, always on the side of the action, never quite able to join in, and shows us how Ken gave him the insight he needed to finally switch on and get in on the fun. Johnson is a very witty writer, so of course the piece is very funny. But more than simply funny, it is gleefully written. There is a joy in the telling of these stories, a contagious delight that carries the audience along for the entire ride.

Embodying that joy, and the titular Ken, is Jeremy Stockwell. Stockwell’s performance is exceptional. It transcends impression and creates something that feels truly real. I never met Ken Campbell myself, so I cannot speak to the performance’s accuracy, but I can say that Stockwell has created a truly vivid, detailed portrait of a man. I believed every moment of it. I was constantly forgetting I was watching an actor portraying a real person, despite Stockwell’s sporadic cheeky nods to this fact. Stockwell’s Ken moves through the world like some kind of clown-wizard, taking in everything around him and throwing it back out in the form of joyous, naughty fun.

His performance is always drawing us in, always including us. Sometimes he’ll make the audience into background characters in the story being told, assembled actors in a decrepit Edinburgh cinema or members of a hippie-theatre commune. Sometimes he’ll come and riff with somebody in the audience off of what’s happening on stage, bouncing off of their reactions and using the momentum to flow into the next moment. He brings us in, and allows us to be a part of these stories. We feel as if we were there. And we’re made to understand why it meant so much to be there. Why it still means so much now.

Ken is a celebration and memorial to a very influential man. But more than that, it is an exaltation at having “been there.” Johnson’s writing and Campbell’s performance allow us to live out the legends of their lives in the theatre. The stories they tell are wild, hilarious and touching, and they give us a beautiful and vivid look at a provocative and influential figure.

A moving and raucously funny piece of theatre, Ken is equal parts memoir, memorial and circus. A joy. A collection of great stories told with love, humour, and above all, fun.

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Monster, Worklight Theatre @ The Vaults

24 – 28 January, 2018

Written & performed by Joe Sellman-Leavas
Directed by Yaz Al-Shaater

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Worklight Theatre are an internationally acclaimed theatre company formed in 2011 who focus on contemporary social issues. The company rose to success with there previous show Labels, a show exploring identity which won the VAULT Festival 2017 award.

Worklight’s latest show Monster explores violence and masculinity and questions what happens when the monster that lies within us escapes. Performed and written by Joe Sellman Leava and directed by Yaz Al-Shaanter.

Joe Sellman-Leava is a captivating performer, his intelligent energy is infectious. A very good storyteller, he has a unique style in the way which he tells emotional and personal stories. Sellman-Leava has incredible charisma, the audience like him and feel empathy for his character.

The performer multi-roled the different characters in the story, which created some funny moments. However, there wasn’t much physical change between the characters which would have added to the performance.

A unique show well-worth seeing at the VAULT Festival or catching on tour later this year. The audience left with the curious line: ‘some of the story is true and some of it isn’t and I’m not going to tell you which is which’, leaving us to questioning which is which.

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Becoming Shades, Chivaree Circus/Upstage Creative @ The Vaults

24 January – 18 March, 2018

Directed by Laurane Marchive

Becoming Shades at VAULT Festival 2018 (courtesy Maximilian Webster) 2

Photography by Maximilian Webster

 

In the echoing bowls of the Vaults, with dripping walls and shadowy figures, the memory of the Goddess Persephone lives on in flashes of retelling. Chivaree Circus and Upstage Creative have created an incredible evening of entertainment.

If you’ve never been to the Vaults or it’s festival, I thoroughly recommend this show as a first experience of it, and hope it leads you to the other shows this extraordinary venue has to offer.

There’s almost no dialogue. It’s a retelling of the Persephone & Hades myth story through circus, movement and music. The show is all about atmosphere and is a showcase for the unbelievable talent of the performers.

The aerials and pole dance are just stunning to watch, and oh my god they are good. The grace of the performers is hard to overstate. You watch in open-mouthed wonderment, in awe of the human body and what it’s capable of.

The music by Sam West performed with Becks Johnstone is haunting and gorgeous, and I wish there was a full album available for purchase, so I could tell you to buy it.

On the subject of atmosphere, the design is wonderful. Lights, music, costume and performance are pitch perfect. Charon, the ferryman to the underworld looks like if something from Star Wars read H.P. Lovecraft. It’s creepy and engrossing, and it transports you.

The immersive elements of the piece are more to enhance atmosphere that to provide actual interaction with the characters and events in the play. Still, it works, and the use of the space is clever and dynamic.

A major downfall is that it’s not the clearest retelling of Persephone. The individual acts are connected more my theme and setting than the plot. Some of my fellow audience members were baffled as to what was going on, though still awed and entertained. It’s not particularly kind in leading one through the events of the narrative, and the lack of dialogue doesn’t help.  So, if you don’t know the myth, I’d recommend this as some prior reading.

In a show like this, the plot isn’t really the point though. The point is having your mind blown. So, grab a ticket, and go get your mind blown.

 

 

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Interview with director, Blythe Stewart – The Moor @ The Old Red Lion Theatre

The Moor - Header

Director: Blythe Stewart on The Moor by Catherine Lucie.

Tuesday 6th February- Saturday 3rd March 2018.

Old Red Lion Theatre

To book tickets – click here


Can you explain the play and what you’d like our readers to know about it before they come?

It’s a new play, a psychological thriller about one woman who’s name is Bronagh and she has suspicions about a murder in her isolated small town. She lets her suspicions known to the local police man and becomes embroiled in the whole thing.

It’s an epic story, a crime story in a way but also about Bronagh getting to grips with the relationships in her life and gaining more agency in her own life.

What is the main thing you hope the audience takes away from seeing ‘The Moor’?

I’d like them to leave with a lot of questions in a positive way. When I first read it, I finished it confused and gripped yet I understood the play before I reached the end. I hope that when the metaphorical curtain drops, the audience goes to the pub below and ask themselves what happened; What is true? What is false? What is memory? Who are we in relation to other people? I look forward to overhearing those questions.

Would you want to answer those questions?

I don’t feel so strongly about answering those questions more about what their personal feelings are about it. I know friends will come and quiz me for the truth and I would offer them questions and provocations. I took away most from it, that it allowed me to reflect on my own world view; we think that we’re the hero in our own stories and that we’re on the right side and can judge other people quite fairly. How compassionate are we until we are faced with other kinds of stories?

Your specialty as a director is in new writing – what draws you most to new writing as opposed to the classics?

For me, the greatest joy when hearing a story and watching a play is that moment when you are so unsure and excited about what’s going to happen in the next moment; new writing offers that. Classics have lost that sense of urgency in that way. In terms of me as a director, it’s about how can we embolden people about what happens next. New writing provokes them and gets them to use their imaginations to ask those questions – it’s so rewarding if they’ve managed to ask that and use their imagination to ask ‘What will happen next?’. I got hooked on new plays – I was reading so much and thinking ‘how would they be put on stage?’ and it made me ask those same questions. I hope we can inspire an audience to ask too.

Can you describe the setting of the play?

It’s not a specific countryside or country or place in the play, the most important factor in terms of setting is she’s isolated in her community yet embedded in the land at the same time. We decided to set it in Yorkshire which felt right partially because the moors are such an expansive space but also (and I hope this doesn’t ruin anything for the audience in advance) but there’s some kinds of folklore in the play that feels well suited to Yorkshire to other kinds of places like Wales or Scotland.

‘The Moor’ is performing at the Old Red Lion theatre which is quite an intimate space – how did you use this to your advantage in terms of design and direction with the play and it’s setting?

I was sent the play about 4 years ago and the first two years on and off  we work-shopped it. Once we got to the draft we were most satisfied with, the first place we went to was the Old Red Lion. I’ve directed there before so know the joys of the space and its shortcomings.

The thing about expanses of countryside are they are at first big and endless but leave you with claustrophobia. The space is so intimate and the audience is right there and being able to speak to them is integral to the piece. It’s perfect in its spatial relation to the audience. Purposefully the scenes are fluid and locations are fluid.  Holly Pigot, our designer has been brilliant and created a useful kind of system helping us to achieve what it might be like for Bronagh fluidly moving through those spaces.

How involved was Catherine Lucie (the writer) in the rehearsal process? Do you like having the writer in the room?

I love it- having writers in rehearsals is such a wonderful resource. They are a like a best buddy and partner in crime to bounce ideas off in an immediate way. In the time of the play moving forward, Catherine’s life has changed and she’s moved to Wales and become a mother so she’s been able to participate in short terms ways. She came up on Monday, to speak to the actors and they were able to ask her questions which was beautiful as it highlighted how on board they are with her story.  Writers are such a good resource. They know the play better than anyone. I love working with emerging or early career writers. It’s so important that they get to participate and see how the actors are taking that subtext and ideas on.

How do you work as a director?

I really value games and exercises to flush out subtext and objectives; physical acts of wants. We work from a system where we don’t have the scripts in hand. Every scene is an emotional transaction between two people. Some might see it as working in an usual way but we are up on our feet from day one. In my view its important to actualize stuff and we’re not stuck behind tables and pieces of paper. Even the simplest of plays could become academic and cerebral, so we are up on day one testing the ground.

So this is a question which has become a tradition for interviews with TheatreBox- what’s a book/ production/ piece of art/ film you think more people should see?

Oh … there are so many! Actually, this one works well. Opus No 7 by a Russian company called Dmitry Krymov lab. It’s recorded to watch online. I was fortunate to study in Russia when I was doing my degree and saw it there and and then again at the Barbican a few years go. It was the first time I left the theatre and my brain had expanded about what is possible on stage and what a joy it is to use my imagination. It set me off on a different path personally and creatively. Imagination is the greatest tool we have. The joy of theatre is engaging people’s minds in what is possible!


The Moor by Catherine Lucie

6th February-3rd March 2018

Old Red Lion Theatre

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@Blythe_Stewart