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interview with caroline on “i’d rather go blind”

What does directing this play mean to you?

I think to be able to direct a play that you feel fully invested in, fully committed to and are trying to find a way of creating a piece of theatre, that both reflects the reality of some women’s lives…I am fully invested in it. Especially as the way we work is by working with participants who have experiences of these types of situations.

 To be honest, I haven’t really directed a piece of work that I haven’t been emotionally invested in. That’s what I’m interested in, that’s what I want to explore in my work how can we really understand these experiences of people and then share it in a way gives us something as an audience to think about. Gives us something to maybe make us angry, make us go out and change the world, maybe also celebrate some of the brilliant things humans have and some of the qualities that are actually not celebrated in our culture but I think are amazing.

What is your thought process when you first read a script?

I’m really interested in the language. Does it make me feel something? And that’s not just in terms of the content of the story but also as an emotional response to how it’s written. So the way the writing flows, is that something that makes me feel something other than just hearing intellectually stimulating or really realistic writing.

Who or what influences you in the work you do?

For me my political beliefs, my faith…they are the major influences. Through my faith there’s the basic premise that you are loved and that we all need to be loved. Often the stories I’m looking at are things where people haven’t felt that. They haven’t felt that internally or externally and of course, all these things are things I’ve had to grow and struggle with and learn how to live better with, with myself.

I’d Rather Go blind is a part of a series of plays; A Cracked Plaster Sky and Never Vera Blue, how does it relate to the others?

There’s lots of threads that run through all of these plays and I think the clear thread is where people are living with huge struggles but then they also have this capacity to overcome that. I suppose take responsibility for it, being able to see something as kind of the first step. Never Vera Blue particularly was very clear in that we followed a woman, as she discovered in the moments of the play, alongside the audience, that what she’d been living was a lot of pretence, although it was real for her, but that was not the full picture that she was seeing. I mean clearly all 3 plays have incredibly powerful women; all of whom are women the broader society wouldn’t see as such.

What has been the biggest challenge in directing it so far with all that in mind?

The biggest is challenge is trying to find the right levels of intensity because we have a lot of material and it could be really difficult to sit through but it isn’t. I think identifying where there are lighter moments and recognising that’s the reality of many people’s lives and that there’s a load of shit and the good stuff that goes along with that and interweaves with it and that we need to celebrate that and in the rehearsal room we need to celebrate those moments giving the space to the really difficult experiences we need to be able to hone in on and allow ourselves to sit in.

What is the overall message you think comes from the play and Futures’ work in general?

There is hope. There is always hope and in this play we see it so clearly and it’s not unrealistic hope, it’s not fantasy. It is based in the human experience and a lot of the women’s experiences that I’ve worked with over a long time. Even with all of that there’s plenty of hope. Human relationships are so complex in one way and then in another way there’s such a basic need for us to be with others.

There’s something incredibly powerful about the story of a mother and a daughter and whatever the circumstances are around that that is powerful. And that is what this play is about, a mother and a daughter and load of shit systems and defunct systems and all the rest around it that have almost destroyed something but the hope is not destroyed. Until we get to the hope, how do we live?


OFFSIDE @ FARE AND UEFA CONFERENCES

Football, theatre and equality was the perfect inspiration for Offside and the perfect play to produce extracts from during two Wembley football conferences recently.  Offside was created to celebrate the women pioneers in football and to throw a light on the current day game with its continuing gender imbalance and prejudices. Of course this is our micro story of the macro one reflected broadly within our society and the world of gender imbalance.

Being invited to perform excerpts from Offside at the Fare Network 20 year gala was an absolute delight.  To be among international delegates representing many organistions with the goal of tackling discrimination and fighting for change felt a natural and celebratory home for us, at Futures Theatre and for this very special production.   We collaborated with Millwall Lionesses and Man City women’s teams during our research, the show was co-written by Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish and now we were collaborating with those out in the field continuing to use football as both a political and social tool to bring justice.  The evening was both a celebration of individuals and organisations championing change as well as an encouragement to continue the many battles still to be won and those that are frustratingly reappearing.

We learn from the historical players Emma Clarke and Lily Parr who within Offside inspire our current day players to achieve their best despite their era’s restrictions.  Emma was the first known black player in the 1890’s and played in a team fighting for their political and social rights.  Lily, lived through the banning of women’s football in the 1920’s and is still the only woman player in the Football Hall of Fame.  We were invited to present theatre at these conferences that demonstrated the power for each of us to appreciate the previous generation’s generosity and battle successes and to build on them in our generation. 

A couple of days later we were performing at the UEFA conference at Wembley stadium in a huge conference room with 250 delegates, media and translators.  Among other challenges of presenting work in this type of venue was the fact that many of the delegates didn’t have English as their first language and this plays text has beautiful poetic language and it moves between eras with actors playing multiple roles.  During rehearsals for both events we worked hard on slowing down the text delivery while retaining the rhythm and symbolic power of the language.  With a number of strong character accents throughout we needed to retain the truthfulness of character for our actors and audience but lessen the strength of them for clarity, which of course during our tour rehearsals we’d worked consistently hard to get them just right!  Our fab talented and up for anything cast and stage manager had all worked on the show previously, although not all on the same tour, and they brilliantly brought theatre into the heart of football. We performed in this beautiful Wembley stadium, a building that symbolises footballs commercial value, the vested interests and an unsurprisingly heavily male dominated landscape.  But that of course makes it an even more amazing perfect audience to hear our message of inclusion, equality and that the time for change is now! 

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