An interview with Georgia Brown, writer and star of Daddy’s Girl

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We spoke to Georgia Brown about her experience of writing Daddy’s Girl, her debut play, which opens at VAULT Festival at the end of the month.

What made you decide to write this play?

I always knew it was something I wanted to write about and as I got older I became more invested in prisons and the problems surrounding our prison system. It’s a human angle, as it’s about a father daughter relationship, so hopefully people will be able to connect to it even if they have no experience of prisons themselves.

Is it something you’ve been working on for a long time?

It actually started out as a one woman show which I scrapped many years ago, then about a year ago I just sat down and wrote it. Finally.

What was the most enjoyable thing about the writing process? And the hardest?

The most enjoyable was finally being able to create stories out of my experience rather than feeling like it had to be 100% truthful to my personal life, but that was also the hardest part too.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?

Their drinks. And their seats.

No.

Sometimes I think it is easy to forget about our huge prison population so I hope it reminds people that they are there and they have families too and that we’re all human. Also that our prison system currently sucks. I want the the audience to laugh and to cry. Which is also what I want people to do at my funeral.

How did you find writing about a subject that is so personal to you?

It is personal, but after a while the characters became their own, they are no longer what they were at the beginning; it’s a fictional journey that is rooted in my truth.

What does your dad think about the play?

My dad hasn’t read the play. I have his blessing…I think.

What are you most looking forward to in the rehearsal process?

It becoming more of a collaboration. And working with the legend that is MARK WINGETT! I remember watching Quadrophenia for the first time when I was about sixteen and thinking he was so cool and cute. I thought he was cute. And then the Bill. He’s just great. And Alice is everything an actor wants in a director. She has such a clear vision, and she’s super calm and cool.

How does it feel for Daddy’s Girl to be a part of VAULT Festival?

It’s great. It’s such an amazing festival and I’ve already got a huge list of shows I want to see. VAULT Festival is such a brilliant platform for new writing, it’s really an honour to be a part of it.

Are there any nerves setting in ahead of your show’s festival run?

I am nervous yes. I can’t really respond to this question because just thinking about it makes me feel a bit anxious.

Have you always had a passion for theatre? 

Yes. Ever since I heard Irene Cara sing Fame.

What’s next for you, and for Daddy’s Girl?

I hope we have a future life after Vault, we certainly have a fantastic team and I think it’s a subject matter that is timely and important, and deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.

Daddy’s Girl runs at VAULT Festival from the 27th – 28th January. Tickets £15.

 

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Reviews of Wallace Shawn’s The Fever

We brought Wallace Shawn’s The Fever to the Old Fire Station, Oxford, last week, and here are the reviews. Click on the links to read in full… 

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Stagetalk Magazine, http://stagetalkmagazine.com/?p=4587, ****

‘Catrin Aaron is captivating as the narrator. She holds the audience rapt as her story (or is it a confession?) unfolds…’

‘You can hear Shawn in Aaron’s performance, perhaps distinctive because of the richness of the language and the hypnotic rhythm of the prose, but she is utterly convincing as a character, flowing from low-key calm poise to rage, from confusion to self-justification to self-disgust whilst never feeling like this is a showcase of her actorly range.’

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Daily Info, Oxford http://www.dailyinfo.co.uk/reviews/feature/9454/The_Fever

‘Director Alice Malin gives you nowhere to hide. There’s just a chair and an actor, and the words. Catrin Aaron as the traveller – also with no hiding place in the intense space of The Old Fire Station – leads you completely into the delirious mind of her character. ‘

‘It’s a remarkable performance.’

‘First published in 1991, The Fever sadly has as much to say to us as it ever had. Three Streets, and Catrin Aaron in particular, have given it a compelling new voice.’

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Some more photos from The Fever rehearsal room

In advance of our performances of Wallace Shawn’s The Fever at the Old Fire Station, Oxford, this Thursday 31 July & Friday 1 August, a few more photos, courtesy of Hannah Clark, of what we’ve been up to. 

 

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Book tickets at http://www.ticketsoxford.com 

 

 

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Thoughts from the rehearsal room

Thoughts in rehearsals for Wallace Shawn’s Obie Award-winning monologue The Fever.

 When The Fever, by American playwright Wallace Shawn, was written nearly twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union was in its death-throes; the word ‘internet’ still meant nothing to the majority of people; and countries now well-known for their charming holiday destinations – or their bloody wars – didn’t exist. If the earth really was going to warm up, most people thought, it would be no bad thing: climate change would bring palm trees to Aberdeen and the tropics to Totnes. The world-map looked different, back in 1990 – but the play’s mapping of why and how we make the choices we make remains as relevant as it was a quarter of a century ago. Why, the play asks, do we plump for collective ignorance at the expense of individual responsibility? Why do we stick our heads in the sand, and dig, and dig, as the gap between the rich and the poor grows bigger?

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A quick skim through the morning news unearths fodder for the rehearsal room walls every day: articles about the poor forced out of ancestral villages so that multinational corporations can plant rapeseed or dig wells; the open letter from Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, to David Cameron, stressing the consequences of inaction on the already-stagnated UN Millenium Development Goals; and in an incredible stroke of irony, the first edition of Marx’s Capital selling for $40,000…

 

So, the issues with which Wallace Shawn’s protagonist wrestles have only become more pressing over time. But what makes this play so interesting to work on is that, yes, it deals in big, difficult ideas – in all the ugly paradoxes and contradictions of postmodern capitalism – but it also is totally personal. It doesn’t proselytise; it’s in conversation with the audience, but not in judgment of them. It invites the audience to empathise or rebuff, agree or disagree – but is not interested in changing politics, habits, opinions. Ultimately, it’s the simplest kind of story, about one person who finds they can no longer continue with life they’ve always led, and wants to change.

 

The commitment of the protagonist to brutal honesty – to pushing arguments to their most unpleasant conclusions and testing assumptions about their place in the world up to the brink of sanity – is another really interesting facet to the piece. There have been plenty of times in rehearsals when we’ve been put off, even repelled by what the protagonist says, but what’s really fascinating about the play is that, when you really drill down with the same forensic integrity as Shawn into his arguments, you find in yourself the very same fears, hypocrisy and entrenched prejudices you just a moment ago denounced in the speaker.

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Because the play reminds us it’s very, very difficult to live morally in a world in which every mundane choice we make – to buy the top from Primark, that book from Amazon – has a negative ripple effect that spreads across continents. Difficult – but not impossible. And, amongst the many articles that we’ve accumulated in the rehearsal room about inequality, injustice, the unaccountability of big business, there are also different narratives. We’ve found stories about people who have found ways not to give in to the sense of hopelessness that being a plankton-sized citizen in the huge, polluted ocean of the global market can often engender: so what if I buy this top; the system’s the system, and my choices can’t change it. For example: two Maltese philanthropists funding their own search-and-rescue operation, using drone technology, for migrants in the Mediterranean, who said they’d come up with the idea because, “We want to inspire people, especially in this time of economic crisis when people care more about money than human life.”

Maybe we’re not all still falling…

The Fever runs on 31 July and 1 August at the Old Fire Station, Oxford at 7.30pm. Buy tickets online at www.ticketsoxford.com, £12/£9 concessions or ring 01865 305305.

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Round-up of the reviews for fiji land

The Stage, http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/39490/fiji-land

‘a surreal, disquieting interrogation of the idea that innocence breeds contentment.’
‘Director Alice Malin pulls performances of violent conviction from her cast. This is a strange but deeply affecting production that pulls Gill’s … philosophical questions into sharp focus.’

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Daily Info, Oxford, http://www.dailyinfo.co.uk/reviews/feature/8917/Fiji_Land

‘If you’re lucky then, once or twice, you might see a production which knocks your socks off. This is one of those.’
‘Max Pappenheim’s eerie industrial soundtrack startles and disturbs. ‘
‘a searing production’
The trio of soldiers are superb…. The power of their dramatic characterisations held the audience spellbound.’
‘It’s a tribute to this outstanding production, that when I saw the supposedly supervising soldier strike a long stemmed match and hold it beneath a defenceless leaf, I winced for the pot plant.’
The Oxford Times, ****
http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/leisure/theatre/theatre/reviews/10941324.Review___fiji_land___Burton_Taylor_Studio/

‘a bravura performance from Stephen Bisland’
‘Not for the faint hearted, but essential to anyone who wants to consider what crimes may be being committed in the name of ‘security’, this original play was well realised by the cast, director Alice Malin and designer Ruth Hall.’

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Andrew Haydon, Postcards from the Gods, http://postcardsgods.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/fiji-land-southwark-playhouse.html
Nick Gill’s Fiji Land is brilliant. It’s certainly the first play I’ve seen in Britain in an absolute age that I didn’t fully understand. And I love that. It’s a play that has an almost luminous metaphoric quality, but which keeps you working incredibly hard on what those metaphors are, and what we are meant to be doing with them. I should also add that Alice Malin’s production – and Ruth Hall’s design for it – are the best I’ve seen on the Fringe in a very long time.’
‘It’s the first play I’ve come out of since Landscape II that left me absolutely reeling and spaced-out: totally thrilled and completely unable to process all the information.’
‘The three actors are … notably excellent. There’s a real assurance and polish to the whole thing, topped off by Ruth Hall’s beautifully detailed set, Tom Wickens’s excellent lighting and Max Pappenheim’s really intricate sound design.’

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Exeunt Magazine, **** http://exeuntmagazine.com/reviews/fiji-land/

‘There’s a fascinating tension at the heart of the play’s close-palmed absurdism – a creative navigation of the real-life events that brought it into being.’
‘…a richly imaginative, darkly witty and at times unsettling experience.’
There Ought to Be Clowns, http://oughttobeclowns.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/review-fiji-land-southwark-playhouse.html

‘Alice Malin’s production deals well with the unfolding absurdist nightmare.’
Cherwell Student Newspaper, **** http://www.cherwell.org/culture/stage/2014/01/09/review-fiji-land
‘an intense, thought-provoking production’
Time Out, http://www.timeout.com/london/theatre/fiji-land
‘director Alice Malin draws strong performances – simultaneously macho and jovial – all round, from Jake Ferretti, Stephen Bisland and Matthew Trevannion, while Max Pappenheim’s head-fucky soundscape is absolutely first-rate.’
The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/jan/21/fiji-land-review
‘…the suppressed nervous energy of the writing is fully exploited by actors Jake Ferretti, Stephen Bisland and Matthew Trevannion.’
Partially Obstructed View, blog http://partially-obstructed-view.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/theatre-review-fiji-land.html
‘Gill’s metaphor of plants as prisoners of war being tortured is a simple but strangely effective conceit, the captors reducing their captives to something that’s alive but not human.
‘…as a piece of intense, sometimes gruesome absurdist theatre, Malin’s production has a hypnotic power, anchored by Ferretti’s central performance.’

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An Actor’s Blog: Jake Ferretti on fiji land

 

 

Jake Ferretti on fiji land: from auditions to the London run…

 

 Late September and I am in Italy celebrating my 30th birthday under the gently piercing Le Marche sun when my agent emails me. Hi Jake, we have an audition for you for a brand new play called ‘fiji land’ by Nick Gill in about 6 weeks (which, let me assure you, is an utter dream for an actor compared to the frenzied scramble for 2 contrasting audition speeches, an upbeat, but androgynous West End song and a prepared guitar piece needed for 12, noon. Tomorrow!!) Details, details, details.

 

So, I print out the draft, plonk myself on the veranda with un bicchiere di vino and get stuck in. 4 pages in and I am very intrigued. In fact, I love it. I must get this part. However, on finishing, I wonder how I feel about tackling a brand new play. Will people come to see it? Will they like it? It is fairly gruesome in parts, what will they think of that? There are also quite a lot of ‘fucks’ in it (the word, not the act!) and will that wind people up? My Mum, for instance.

 

Audition day.

 

I meet Alice (our sublime director). We chat through the play, its history, the characters and subjects pertaining to torture, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, etc and I am now even more sold than before. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have been offered the part of Grainer.

 

First night and bringing this piece to paying punters, I was a mix of confidence and soiling myself. Have I got everything in place? Are my flip flops set? Will they laugh at that joke I find frigging hilarious? The lights go down. The music starts. I walk on with my backpack. We begin.

 

The healthy audience (probably about two thirds full) react well. Very much with us throughout and listening, it seems, attentively. I hoped that the very topical subject matter would keep them entertained (particularly based on how the play progresses) and I don’t think they were disappointed. The play asks some very hard, very intricate questions and when they chuckled at certain jokes (not the one I find hilarious, by the by!) and recover themselves after the curtain call with aghast chatter, I feel an overpowering sense of achievement. They did like it. And because of that initial reaction, my perception of the play changed and, without sounding too much like a dick, I realised we are saying something massively important. Huge, even. Should the questions raised be confronted? Do people want to confront them? If not, why not?

 

This brand spanking new piece and audiences’ reactions to it have motivated me to really hammer it home that ‘what happens behind cell doors’ needs to be acknowledged. And I shall come at this piece with much more brute force for each and every performance.

 

Oxford audiences, at ease. London, name and number.

 

fiji land plays at Southwark Playhouse 15 January – 8 February 

read more about the show and book tickets here: http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/index.php/the-little/fiji-land/

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Some photos from the fiji land rehearsal room

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“you don’t wonder what’s going on?”

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“thought they didn’t like the cold”

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“I know what’s going on

he’s put you to this, hasn’t he?”

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“we don’t have any responsibility, do we?

nothing we do’s our fault

just doing what we’re told”

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“just some stuff I’ve got to do”

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“got to look after number one, don’t we?”

fiji land runs from 8 – 11 January at the Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford and from the 15 January – 8 February at the Southwark Playhouse. Book tickets here: http://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/theatre/3085/fiji-land/Wednesday-8-January/BT-Studio and here: http://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/the-little/fiji-land/

 

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