1. What inspired you to establish Aequitas Theatre?
I suppose everyone at TISCH was starting their own companies so it seemed like the right thing to do! Aequitas is so incredible because we kind of fell together. As I wished for a company that broke barriers, the industry seemed to want one too so I started one. And as I auditioned more and more people who told me this is what was needed, I realised it was about so much more than me. We are in the process of becoming a collective so as to collaborate more freely and so at a point where we are evolving which is exciting to be a part of!
2. What sort of issues/ theatre does Aequitas Theatre focus on or passionate about?
Aequitas is simply passionate about storytelling effectively and simply. We haven’t done a musical but we wouldn’t be averse to it! (There’s s pun there somewhere...) I think most recently with myself directing, we have become more political in our theatre but as others in the collective direct they will tell their own stories. Interestingly they will still have something to say because one key element is that there must be a reason we are telling this story or re-telling it!
3. What have been some of the highlights in the development of Aequitas Theatre?
Highlights... we did a piece called What’s Your Issue at the Cockpit which made a statement about body image and starred some incredible actors. We’ve explored tech in our work (most notably by using Twitter for characters on stage to communicate in real time with the audience). And of course, we can’t forget Fear and Misery at the Jack Studio Theatre. It usually comes down to the talented actors we have worked with. It’s hard to call anything a highlight as we are still so new relatively speaking.
4. What was the inspiration in developing and adapting this classic, Antigone?
I think it came from the political angle. I’m a really politically minded person. I love debate and watching anything to do with politics, really anywhere in the world. I had no idea about the Miners’ Strike really at first. I just wanted to put something in the 80’s. And then I thought of a classic I could adapt and Antigone has been a favourite of mine since I studied it in secondary school (I made a terrible school presentation with a friend where we played all the parts even though we were supposed to be discussing theme. We got an excellent grade but I think it was because the teacher was tired of essays). So, I thought about it and the political situation of the time and it clicked somehow. Of course, there’s always a way however subtly to try and relate it to today, but I won’t say more so as not to spoil it.
5. Any highlights & stumbling block in the general development of Antigone?
The biggest stumbling block has been the time period. We have had to find clever ways around branding problems on a budget—for example there are often things we use that were rubbish like empty cans and cigarette packs and no one has kept this from 1984. So, we have had to find ways around this which I think we have.
Highlights have been researching the music (always my favourite part!) and working with such a brilliant cast. As director they really challenge me and push me which is so exciting because I love a collaborative spirit and I’m so glad they feel comfortable enough to take risks and ask questions. Ultimately it makes for a great show!
So, I have an incredible team behind me. Roman Berry as movement director, Sydney Aldridge: Casting director (if you want to know how I got such a brilliant cast). Lighting design: Holly Ellis, Sound: Annie May Fletcher, Set: Geraldine Cooper (who has built me an elevator mine shaft). I’ve got an incredible lady Natalie Durkin doing my marketing (she has transformed our social media and it is beautiful) and Nathan Allcock doing graphic design, creating our 80’s fonts and looks. Then of course a brilliant stage manager Mimi who simply gives everything to the show. I couldn’t do this without them.
7. What attracted you to stage this production at The Bread & Roses Theatre?
There’s a huge surprise here for the audience so I can’t say too much but there’s a strong link between a play about unions and a theatre above a pub named because of them.
8. Call someone out by name: who should see this production. Be brave :)
Oooh. This is so hard. I mean everyone should see it (of course I would say that). But specifically, I would love someone like James Graham to see my work. I’m obsessed with his plays at the moment. Or maybe Headlong? Go big or go home right? Come see the show folks! I’d love that.
9. What do you think the state of British Fringe Theatre is right now, and how does Aequitas Theatre fit into it?
There’s so much exciting work out there. We see everything from classics to musicals and tons of new writing. I have a heavy influence in my work from political situations and for me political theatre needs to exist (and works so well on the fringe). And as a company we hope that by making theatre that creates conversation in our audiences we can join the innovative companies out there!
10. What next for Aequitas Theatre?
Aequitas is becoming a collective. We are hoping to launch an entire season about identity and different ideas surrounding that. We are first embarking on a fundraising programme because to do work at the scale we plan to we need to raise enough. But after a few months of raising funds we are planning an incredible season of theatre with something to say! Please follow us on Twitter @AequitasTheatre to find out more and keep your eyes on the upcoming identity season!
Aequitas Theatre's ANTIGONE is on until 22nd September, 7.30 pm.