Author Archives: yodamo

An Interview with Paul Brotherston

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Hello Paul, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking:
Hi!! I’m from Kelso in the Scottish Borders originally but have been based in the west end of Glasgow for 3 years now.
When did you first realise you had a theatrical side
‘a theatrical side’ made me laugh. I wasn’t exposed to a lot of theatre growing up, but when I arrived at Edinburgh University I wanted to try something new so gave acting a go. I slowly found my feet in theatre and discovered directing. I enjoy collaborating with other people to tell a story.
Can you tell us about your company, Blood of the Young
We formed BOTY about three years ago with the idea of making a collaborative, ensemble company that trained together regularly and made inventive work that was formally playful and full of live music and, crucially, didn’t take itself too seriously. We’ve made a couple of shows together, Golden Arm Theatre Project which was a collaboration with the indie band Golden Arm and Secret Show 1 which was sort of anarchic reimagining of an undisclosed classic play. I’ve been heavily influenced by working with American company the TEAM, and with Scottish physical theatre ensemble Company of Wolves.
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What is it about such multi-media presentations that makes you buzz 
I like this question! I think I’m interested in the ‘liveness’ of theatre – which sounds like a pointless statement – but I think that working with live musical elements allows theatre to do something that TV and film can’t do. It’s something that makes a night at the theatre unique.
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Anneke Kampman

You are just about to put on Daphne Oram’s Wonderful World of Sound at the Tron, can you tell us about the play
Daphne Oram’s Wonderful World of Sound is about the life and work of electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram, who is perhaps most famous for founding the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. It’s a story about bravery, experimentation, artistic daring, and ultimately, about legacy and what we leave to future time. Daphne’s life is full of amazing episodes, and the whole story is accompanied by a full live electronic score by Anneke Kampman of former Scottish Album of the Year nominees Conquering Animal Sound. It’s a very visual, physical piece of theatre as well as a fun piece of storytelling.
What is the difference between a composer & a sound artist
Well I think Anneke would answer this better than me! I guess that ultimately, a composer evokes images of someone sitting writing music privately to be performed by someone else or to accompany another piece of art. Anneke is a sound artist who is performing live and composing/improvising with our story as it unfolds. It is very live and absolutely integral. It sort of crosses multiple disciplines.
What emotional responses do you expect the Daphne Oram audience to experience
I hope the audience are able to reflect on the life of someone who pursued their vision with their whole being, and who sacrificed everything for her art. We have tried to make the piece a communion of two women across the ages – Anneke and Daphne – and tried to talk about the nature of music, inspiration and artistic legacy. We have also worked hard to create playful, fun images of the BBC in all it’s kitsch, bureaucratic glory. Terry Gilliam’s Brazil has been a big influence!
What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Paul Brotherston 
Kind of you to ask! After our tour of Daphne I will be collaborating with Graham Eatough on a new show (we last worked together on Lanark: A Life in 3 Acts at the Citizens Theatre), as well as joining up with New York ensemble the TEAM to further develop the show I made with them last year, Anything That Gives Off Light.

Trainspotting Returns

3 Trainspotting L-R Lorn Macdonald and Gavin Jon Wright. Photo by Tim Morozzo

TRAINSPOTTING
By Irvine Welsh
Adapted by Harry Gibson
Directed by Gareth Nicholls
Wed 18 October – Sat 11 November 2017, Citizens Theatre

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Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting began its life as a piece of drama at the Citizens Theatre over 20 years ago and returned in 2016 with a critically-acclaimed sold-out run. Hot on the heels of Trainspotting 2, Danny Boyle’s sequel to his phenomenally successful film version, and by popular public demand, the Citizens Theatre is bringing its production of the notorious story back to the stage from 18 October to 11 November 2017.  The production will also tour to the King’s Theatre Edinburgh, presented by Selladoor Scotland.

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Trainspotting was first presented in a stage adaptation by Harry Gibson in the theatre’s Stalls Studio in 1994, just a year after the book’s publication. The shocking and explicit production was hugely successful and was quickly remounted in the theatre’s larger Circle Studio. The adaptation has since been staged across the globe. In 2007, The Scotsman named the Citizens Theatre’s original production in the Top 20 Scottish Theatre Events of All Time and awarded the 2016 production 5 stars, stating “it’s a show that comes with a health warning”.

Trainspotting is set in Thatcher-era Leith, in a world where work and opportunities are scarce. The trappings of a successful lifestyle are held out of reach of Renton, Begbie, Sickboy and Spud, who instead look for fulfillment through the point of a needle.

Gareth Nicholls returns to the Citizens Theatre to direct.  Nicholls’ recent credits include God of Carnage (Tron Theatre) and The Burial at Thebes, Coriolanus and ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). His production of Gary McNair’s A Gambler’s Guide to Dying won a Scotsman Fringe First Award, and has toured the UK and Adelaide Festival, and has just completed an Off-Broadway run. Nicholls held the post of Citizens Theatre Main Stage Director in Residence (2014-16), directing Into That Darkness, Vanya and Blackbird all of which received 4- and 5-star reviews.

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Of his return to the Citizens Theatre, Gareth commented, “Irvine Welsh’s urgent and uncompromising story clearly still packs a punch – we saw audiences from all backgrounds connecting strongly to its heady mix of humour, heartache and heroin. Its unflinching look at Scottish identity, masculinity and choice seems to be as pertinent now as it was 24 years ago and I’m thrilled to be once more bringing this raw, energetic and iconic modern classic back to the stage.

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Tickets for Trainspotting at the Citizens Theatre will be available from Tuesday 16 May from the Citizens Theatre’s website citz.co.uk or by calling the Box Office on 0141 429 0022.

And Then Come The Nightjars

11th April 2017

Byre Theatre, St Andrews

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Script: four-stars  Stagecraft: five-stars Performance: four-stars 

Later this year, the grand old tradition of the theatre in Perth is about to bounce into the 21st century with the reopening of a refurbished ‘temple to the stage’ that has cost quite a lot of money, but is almost ready to go. Since its closure 2014, award-winning Richard Murphy Architects have been crafting the theatre & by October it will have reopened, when 90 percent of the Scottish population will be only 90 minutes from what should be Scotland’s most pleasant theatrical space. That doesn’t mean Perth Theatre has been idle, however, & for the past three years has continued its rural program, taking actors out to the smaller stages & towns, as doing right now with And Then Came The Nightjars. A charming tale of rural friendship by the West Country’s Bea Roberts,  in an earlier interview with the Mumble one of its two actors, Nigel Hastings, described Nightjars as ‘a beautifully written play, perhaps the best new play I have ever been in. It is about love, loss and friendship, and how rural life is changing.’ The stage is an inch-perfectly reproduced farmer’s barn, in which are played out four vignettes from the later lives of Hastings & his co-actor, Finlay Welsh.

Blending James Herriot & Last of the Summer Wine, but chucking in a dungheap full of grit, what follows is a sublime snapshot of two men bonded by a long life friendship. Each of the four scenes is separated in the same way Petrarch turned his sonnets to Laura; sudden shifts in story & mood which developed our players & effortlessly forwarded the story. Hastings & Welsh were rehearsed to precision, flawless performances in which they took turns to lead the action as in any good friendship. One moment in particular had me riveted to my seat; when Finlay Welsh in his thick West Country action opened a box of prize-winning cattle rosettas, going through them one-by-one with excited drunken pathos. As he did so, although she wasn’t on stage, I could sense the presence of his dead wife in the fictional yet remarkably real back story of his character. Overall, a quick-paced yet touching comedy-laced piece, whose choice has proven Perth Theatre is ready to reclaim its distinguished place in the Scottish scene.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

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And Then Come The Nightjars;

19 / 20 April : Inchyra Arts Club

21 April : Blair Atholl Village Hall

22 April : Aberfeldy Town Hall

26 / 27 April : Birnam Arts Centre

28 April : Blairgowrie Town Hall

29 April : Strathearn Arts Space, Creiff

A Number

The Lyceum 

Edinburgh

6-15 April

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Script: three-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: five-stars  

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This time of year the city of Edinburgh taps into the cerebral part of a collective brain from which once sprung the Scottish Enlightenment of Adam Smith et al. Yes, the Science Festival is in town, & with it a rather sciencey play, Caryl Churchill’s ‘A Number.‘ Its subject is human cloning & its drama thrives upon the discovery of a young man – Bernard Black – that he is one of many clones of his father’s long dead son. The hour-long story is told with two just actors, Lyceum stalwarts Peter Forbes (Michael) and Brian Ferguson (Bernard); & it is the familiarity they possess concerning each other’s acting nuances which helps bring to life such an intimate script.

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It is the acting, actually, which is worth the admission fee; the ebbs & flows of Brian Ferguson’s emotions grab your watching psyche you like a butcher’s hook. Behind them, a simple & stark stage helps us to focus on the progress of their conversations. These run the full gamut of emotions, a dichotomy of feelings of fear, pain & regret as the godlike possibilities of man’s intellectual endeavor come home to roost. Director Zinnie Harris has done well to capture the spirit Churchill’s vision, & as one leaves the theatre, discussion immediately begins on the ethical questions raised in the last hour. A Number, then, is less a play & more an intense Socratic dialogue, but luckily the acting on this occasion was superb.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

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An Interview with Nigel Hastings

Perth Theatre in partnership with Theatre by the Lake, Keswick present
Theatre 503 and Bristol Old Vic’s production of And Then Come the Nightjars by Bea Roberts & Directed by Paul Robinson. The Mumble managed a wee chat with actor, Nigel Hastings.

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Hi Nigel, so where ya from & where ya based geographically speaking

I’m from Preston originally but moved to London to go to drama school (LAMDA). I now live in Lewes, East Sussex.

When did you first fall in love with the theatre

My Dad was in the army and I was an army kid. I grew up on army camps, mostly in Germany so we didn’t really go to the theatre. But I remember seeing an amateur panto put on by the soldiers when I was about six and I thought it was amazing. I never wanted it to end.

For you, what are the essential ingredients of a good play

Heart, humour and humanity. And of course a good story and great characters.

You are currently touring And Then Come The Nightjars, can you tell us about it

It is a beautifully written play, perhaps the best new play I have ever been in. It is about love, loss and friendship, and how rural life is changing.

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What emotional response do you expect from those seeing Nightjars

The response is always extraordinary. Audiences laugh and cry.

When playing to different audiences in different regions, can you sense a change in atmosphere at all

Some audiences are much quieter than others. We did a performance in Falmouth which was so silent we thought the audience hated it. It turned out that most of them were farmers and they kept had quiet because they didn’t want to miss a single word of the dialogue! Then last night the Keswick audience was in hysterics. We felt like Morcambe and Wise!

How do you find the Scottish crowds

We haven’t played Nightjars in Scotland yet but I’ve always thought the Scottish audiences are great and seem to listen very carefully.

What does the rest of 2017 have in store for Nigel Hastings

When this finishes I start work on another new play called Combustion (by Asif Khan). It is about a group of young Muslims in Bradford during the riots and so the setting, characters and themes are very different to Nightjars. But like Nightjars it is very funny and touching. It plays at the new Tara Arts Theatre and The Arcola in London then tours.

An Interview with Carmen Marcon

Tonight the Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation and the University of Edinburgh begin their run of Isaac’s Eye at the Bedlam Theatre. The Mumble managed to catch up with its director, Carmen Marcon, for a wee chat.

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So where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking

 I’m from San Francisco, California and have lived and studied in Edinburgh for the past year and a half.

When did you first develop an interest in theatre

 To be honest, I’m not sure when it all started, I feel like I’ve always been interested in theatre. My last year of high school is when I discovered the intricacies of putting on productions and being involved at Bedlam Theatre has allowed me to immerse myself in an artistic community, encouraging my love of theatre.

How easy is it to fit your love of drama around your studies

 It’s definitely not easy but I love it too much to give it up. It just takes a combination of time management, a good support system and a lot of coffee. 

You are making directorial debut with Isaac’s Eye, how are you finding the process

 It’s a very odd script to begin with but I’m very much enjoying the challenge of it. I’m lucky to have a great group of people to be working with in both the cast and crew who have been willing and excited to put in the work to make this a really good piece of theatre.  We’re all really excited to show this to the public.

Can you tell us about the play

The play explores the path Isaac Newton took to become one of the greatest scientific thinkers that we know today and shows us the relationships that affected him as well. Walking the line between fact and fiction, Lucas Hnath has written a play that puts a seemingly normal situation on its side. The characters presented are not expected, allowing additions to these historical figures that we thought we knew.

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What emotional responses do you expect your audience to engage with

 There is an odd disconnect between the way the characters relate to each other as well as their situations. Regardless of this, each character is relatable in its own way allowing for a whole spectrum of emotions on stage and off. I want the audience to embrace the oddness rather than shying from a style of theatre that they might not have liked before.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Carmen

 I’ve recently become the Productions Manager at Bedlam Theatre and am looking forward to working with the upcoming shows that will be put on the stage here. I’m also planning to direct more shows this year as well and just really taking advantage of the amazing theatre Edinburgh has.

Channeling Jabez

A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow 
April 3-8

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Channeling Jabez, written and presented by Giles Croft & directed by Liz Carruthers and assistant director David Wood, tells the story of the twenty-odd attempts by Glasgow born Jabez Wolffe (inspired by the feat of Captain Webb) to swim across the English Channel. These various efforts were thwarted by weather, tides, jellyfish and most spectacularly, World War I mines. The statistics for each and every endeavour is listed from the stage in the manner of a poor Reith lecture, complete with doubtful props. There is a guitar which Mr Croft admits then demonstrates, he can’t play, a map of the English Channel pinned with little Saltires and even a reluctant volunteer from the audience, asked to come forward and grease a manikin to channel swimming protocols.

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Mr Croft is not a performer but has managed to memorise an impressive amount of channel swimming statistics (although he does lose his way at one point and has to ask the sound desk for a prompt). His retro costume of crewneck jumper and black bow tie is inspired by the grainy film footage of his hero shown at the end of the show which finishes with a piece of slapstick business that smacks of desperation. Not exactly theatre, this was more of a multi-media story-telling session, a format which can be entertaining but in this instance struggled to amuse.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery

Edinburgh Zoo

4th-9th April

18:15 – 20:00

Dr Stirlingshire's Discovery - credit Pete Dibdin (6)

Script: three-stars  Stagecraft: five-stars Performance: four-stars 

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Yesterday evening, as I stood on the hoary slopes of Edinburgh’s zoo, the animals slipping into slumbers on every side, my spirit sang a silent lament for what we have lost. In these our modern days, the conventional  theatre-goer will settle in their comfortable seats, in their correctly-angled rows, while before them only the stage manager’s choice of set design makes a relatively futile attempt to transport said theatre-goer to a place rather different from the last time they were at the theatre. Yes, we have devolved a long way since the birth of drama, when in the mystery rites of ancient Memphis & Eleusia the high priests would lead their acolytes in procession through a series of divine scenes; following rivers, climbing mounds, entering caves….

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So, a A great credit must be given to Edinburgh based Grid Iron and Lung Ha theatre companies for attempting something at least as expansive, whose zookeepers, Tom & Geena, lead their chilly but jovial audience from scene to scene across Edinburgh Zoo in the telling of their tale : Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery. The story involves the return of Dr Vivienne (played by Nicola Tuxworth), back from the dark continent with a hitherto unknown mammal. Also on the scene is her brother, Henry, which provides a familial subplot of conflict & reconciliation. He is played by the bearded Anthony Strachan, a perfectly formed Graham-Norton/Oliver-Reed hybrid, whose eloquence & acting ability outshone all others.

Dr Stirlingshire's Discovery - credit Pete Dibdin (20).jpgAlongside the principle parts, the supporting roles have been taken by other members of Lung Ha, conducted with unadulterated passion. They work, & work well; a Herculean effort of man-management, perhaps, but well worth it. Lung Ha’ speciality is discovering & excavating the creativity in people with learning disabilities: & this time they have excelled even their own startling efforts of the past.

But was it any good? Eccentric & erratic, colourful & cordial, surreal & sweet, Morna Pearson’s script contains a ‘zany concoction of characters’ which are perfect for the children, whose long wait to see the mystery animal would receive its denoument with touches of excellent stagecraft. As for the adults, just being there is a pleasure, & the Monty Python moments rather enjoyable. Heartwarming also was the sheer professionalism of the performance, lending a sense of tender universality to the proceedings. This play is indeed for everyone.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

 

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Glasgow

Thursday March 23rd, 2017

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Script: five-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: five-stars 

Shakespeare’s poetry is beautifully brought to life in a wonderfully physical and energetic production. The audience barely has time to draw breath as the rich comedy unfolds. It is an ensemble piece bathed in shades of light that warm the heart on a cold night in Glasgow. Each actor pours sinew and soul into their performance: gesture, comic timing and focus are all interwoven with a forceful precision to produce a highly polished theatrical event. The set verges on the minimal but is easily sufficient, letting the language and poetry of the play breathe its magic; lighting, costumes and music enhance the text and performances without intruding, indeed, they form a theatrical whole that is a pleasure to experience.

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Mathew Miles’s Bottom and Isabel Palmstierna’s Puck are excellently comic, while Rebecca Robin’s Hermia and Emma Beth Jones’s Helena are strongly portrayed with a fine balance of humour and gravitas. Ryan Wilson’s Lysander and Will Underwood’s Demetrius play off one another skilfully. Joseph Emms’s Oberon is accomplished and authoritative, rendering the Bard’s magic utterly believable. Lily Cooper (Hippolyta/Titania) and Honey Durruthy (Egeus/Sung/Fairy) give fine supporting performances, as do Madison McLean (Quince/Fairy), Verity Mullan Wilkinson (Flute/Fairy) and Veronika Smit (Starveling/Fairy).

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The play raises questions on many levels: the role of women in society, power relations between classes and social groups, and, the power of propaganda and social customs in forming behaviour patterns to name but three. As with Iago in Othello and the witches in Macbeth, Oberon, Puck and the Fairies somehow manipulate the minds of the lovers with only Hermia remaining true to herself throughout the play. In distinction to what we are generally led expect from drama, that events and conflicts change the consciousness of a character, Hernia is the only character who remains as clear sighted at the end as she was at the beginning. And the conclusions to be drawn from this are no doubt many and varied. Never the less, the cast performed with such verve that the deeper considerations came later and during the performance the audience were immersed in a spellbinding comic dream.

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The best use of a wheelie-bin in any play ever can be witness here. This a fine production, especially if you like the lines delivered quickly and the entire space occupied by the actors to full effect. As entertainment it is excellent: a performance poem for many voices delivered seamlessly with the force of DV8 physical theatre production.

Reviewer : Jim Ferguson

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An Interview with Vlada Nebo

 

This week, Theatre Paradok will be presenting THE NETHER at the Checkpoint,

The Mumble caught up with its director, Vlada Nebo for a wee thespian chat

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THE MUMBLE : Hello Vlada, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
VLADA : I was born in Moscow, but moved to Switzerland when I was in my early teens and mostly grew up there. After high school I moved to Edinburgh to study English Literature, and am very happy to still be here, even if just for another few months.

THE MUMBLE : So how are you finding Edinburgh?
VLADA : I don’t think there is a single thing I don’t love about Edinburgh, even the constant wind and rain, and the city descending into darkness at around 4pm, kind of grow on you. Although, more importantly I love how vibrant the city is. There is always something going on, new projects are started up all the time, and it’s very easy to find like-minded people to work with you. At the same time, Edinburgh is not overwhelming like Moscow or London, people here actually have the time to be polite and welcoming. I think Edinburgh is just perfect.

THE MUMBLE : What is it like to study the literature of another country in another language?
VLADA : I am genuinely not sure how to answer this question, because I’ve never thought of it before. I mean, it’s literature. You read books. You chat about them. You write essays. It’s great, I love it. I think this question throws me off so much because I grew up in an international community and a lot of people in such situations develop an identity that’s not culture-specific. You absorb a bit of everything. We live in a world where globalisation is more and more prominent, so cultural barriers are only as relevant as you want to make them. More to the point, a lot of the works we study here revolve around specific events in British history that I have had to study up on in order to be able to draw the full significance of the works in question out, which has been very interesting. Also, I suppose to an extent, as a foreign speaker, you have a more acute awareness of the language – the patterns and irregularities of it in particular works of literature.

THE MUMBLE : When did your love of theatre come about?
IVLADA : I’m struggling to point the exact moment, however what I do remember is telling my mom, sometime during my teenage years that I have decided I do not like theatre as it’s not a worthy art form. She reminds me of that every time she gets a chance, which is a lot, because I never shut up about theatre.

THE MUMBLE : Can you tell us about Theatre Paradok?
VLADA : Theatre Paradok is one of the University of Edinburgh student theatre societies, but it is very open to students from other universities and non-students. There is a misconception that Paradok specialise in physical theatre and while they do have an interest in it, they are also keen on theatrical productions that are experimental and different in other ways. They have been an absolute treat to work with – the committee is friendly and very supportive. If anyone has an interest in theatre, but getting into the theatre community seems scary, Paradok is defiantly a good place to start.

THE MUMBLE : Can you tell us about ‘The Nether’ as a play?
VLADA : The Nether is a sci-fi thriller, set in a world where virtual reality has become our contextual framework for being. The play asks what happens when humanity begins to redefine what we understand as reality; whether we can legislate against people’s dreams and whether morality really is a concept set in stone. The dialog is very beautiful, but also very clever. Jennifer Haley, the playwright, pays incredible attention to detail, both in crafting the world and in setting up the dilemmas in it. There are small, story-defining details that took me months to notice. The other important thing is that there are two ways of looking at The Nether: there are the poignant philosophical questions that are the first thing that jumps out at you, but there are also the strikingly complex character stories. All of them are troubled in their own way and you can’t help but feel sympathy for each one of them, to a certain extent. Today, most things happen over the internet – even this interview. It opens a world of possibilities, but it also brings out a whole range of issues of the kind that humanity has never had to deal with before. Jennifer Haley captures that dynamic very effectively. I can talk about this play for hours; however, I can never do it justice, because it really is something you have to experience.

THE MUMBLE : Is it challenging to direct & if so what are those challenges?
VLADA : Apart from feeling like everything is on fire all of the time? I think the biggest challenge is remembering why you are doing this in the first place. You get so caught up in sorting out the little crises and brushing out technical details that it’s very easy to lose sight of why you started this whole project in the first place. You started it because you love this play madly. You started it because you wanted to say something and felt like you have an interesting way of doing it. That’s something you need to constantly, consciously remind yourself of throughout the directing process.

THE MUMBLE : What emotions do you expect The Nether to stimulate in the audience?
VLADA : Curiosity, above all. The Nether is not a didactic play, it does not pretend to give you any answers but provokes a lot of questions. I very much hope that this comes through in the way that we have put the production together.

THE MUMBLE : What does the rest of 2017 hold in store of Vlada Nebo?
VLADA : I am trying not to think about it much. This year is going to be one of those transition years, and they are never easy. For now it’s about doing the best I can with The Nether, typing up 10 000 words for my dissertation (which, believe it or not, is also on The Nether!) for the 11th of April, and then… we will see. I have a couple of vague plans, like catching up on all the videogames I had to miss, actually finding the time to watch the shows my friends put on, maybe getting some sleep. I would also really love to go to a theatre school.