Brighton Festival welcomes Bernie Sanders for special Festival Extra event
Former Democratic candidate for President of the United States Bernie Sanders will speak about his new book Our Revolution at a special Brighton Festival Extra event on Thursday 1 June, with tickets on sale from Wednesday 3 May at 10am (members pre-sale Tuesday 2 May at 10am).
Bernie Sanders will join Brighton Festival’s diverse Books and Debate programme, which includes Gary Younge discussing the role of guns in Trump’s America; Tariq Ali on his portrait of Lenin, and how we might challenge capitalism today; Palestine’s leading writer Raja Shehadeh on the Israeli occupation of Palestine; celebrated novelist Hanif Kureishi looking back on a career in which he has explored identity, cultural difference, and religious fundamentalism; and Democracy Debate: What Comes Next? in which Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee chairs a panel of top thinkers and politicians to debate the future of our political system.
Bernie Sanders stormed to international headlines after running an extraordinary campaign for the Democratic primaries that saw over 13 million people turn out to vote for him, and changing the global discussion surrounding US politics. But how did a complete unknown and an avowed socialist make such waves?
In Our Revolution, Sanders provides a unique insight into the campaign that galvanized a movement, sharing experiences from the campaign trail and the techniques that shaped it. And it wasn't just his use of new media; Sanders' message resonated with millions. His supporters are young and old, dissatisfied with expanding social inequality, struggling with economic instability and who rebelled against a political elite who has long ignored them. This is a global phenomenon, driving movements from Syriza in Greece to Podemos in Spain and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK.
Drawing on decades of experience as activist and politician, Sanders outlines his ideas for continuing this political revolution. He shows how we can fight for a progressive economic, environmental, racial and social justice agenda that creates jobs, raises wages and protects the environment. Searing in its assessment of the current political and economic situation, but hopeful and inspiring in its vision of the future, this book contains an important message for anyone tired of 'same as usual' politics and looking for a way to change the game.
Bernie Sanders ran to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States. He is currently serving his second term in the U.S. Senate after winning re-election in 2012 with 71 percent of the vote. Sanders previously served as mayor of Vermont's largest city for eight years.
Bernie Sanders Our Revolution: A Future to Believe in is coming to Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Thursday 1 June.
Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival Members pre-sale: Tuesday 2 May at 10am. Tickets go on general sale: Wednesday 3 May at 10am
An exclusive concert celebrates the luminous music of Monteverdi for voice and orchestra
Hearing a sublime singer has always been one of the most thrilling live experiences, in both popular and classical music. The concert with Les Talens Lyriques with Christophe Rousset at this year's Festival, showcasing works by Monteverdi, is a fine opportunity to hear the musical voice as pioneered by the highly influential 17th century composer.
Les Talens Lyriques will have just performed the works in Holland with the Dutch National Opera in the week preceding this concert, so a lot of thought will have gone into the action and drama of the pieces. This show is the only time to hear them perform this work in the UK this year: this is therefore an exciting gig on many levels, be it for the chance to see an in-demand conductor in Brighton, to celebrate the work of a magnificent composer in his 450th birthday year, to hear a rare combination of Monteverdi's works, or to see an internationally lauded ensemble in Brighton Dome's Concert Hall perform some stunning music.
The concert will feature a combination of singers and musicians without any operatic staging, which gives a clear musical focus to the performance and gives you the chance to hear some superb singers without the often intimidating cost of the opera hall. The bill is a selection of madrigals, which is a fascinating form in musical history. A madrigal is a secular vocal composition for a number of different voices, and Monteverdi strove to illuminate every shade of emotion in the poetic works by introducing music to the form (early madrigals were a capella).
You don't have to be a historian or musicologist to appreciate the concert however, just try any of my Spotify playlist to sample some of the beautiful music you'll get to hear. I've selected a punchy, fast-paced Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, because I love how the pace can hurtle along (like it does around the 6.50 mark) and then crawl down into mournful tones with a drone-like backing. It's irresistibly gorgeous, but the riveting twists and turns might take a few listens to unpack for anyone unfamiliar with early music.
You can then switch from the tragic tale of Tancredi mistakenly killing his lover Clorinda in Il combattimento to the more danceable, sprightly Il ballo delle Ingrate, which shimmers with a prominent harpsichord and decadent orchestration. Il ballo is beautiful in a more lustrous, languid and opulent manner to Il combattimento, and I've included a link to a sharply recorded version that handily breaks up all of the smaller movements to give you a taste of the diverse short bursts of the whole piece. The Overture alone is expansive and enveloping, and directly melodic in the bold way that early music can be: immerse yourself in it now to reap the musical rewards on the evening.
Lamento d'Arianna meanwhile sounds more aria-like than the other works, rendered all the more sparsely striking in Anne Sofie von Otter's performance on the playlist. The fragment from a lost opera is imbued with the grief of Arianna who longs for death in words non-Italian speakers might not understand, but the powerful, emotive vocal part is devastatingly moving regardless.
Musical Director Christophe Rousset is a renowned harpsichordist and conductor, who will conduct the upcoming production of early Mozart opera Mitridate, re di Ponto at the Royal Opera House in the summer. You can hear him conduct Les Talens Lyriques performing the work via this Spotify link if you want to hear if Rousset and his ensemble play to your liking!
Whether you're a classical muso or a music lover of any stripe, this concert presents a highly affordable opportunity to hear some of the earliest, most moving writing for voices ever composed, performed by some of the world's best singers and musicians. The works will have been carefully honed over six performances with the Dutch National Opera in the week before the Brighton gig, and it will be thrilling to hear the fresh interpretations that Les Talens Lyriques will bring to the Concert Hall.
Words by Joe Fuller
Andy Smith on writing and directing Summit
Andy Smith’s play Summit has its preview at Brighton Festival on 8 & 9 May. Here he gives an insight into the creative process.
Up to now, most of the theatre that I make has involved writing things for me to perform. I have always said that at some point I would like to write a work for other people, but I have never quite managed to find the opportunity to do it.
Then sometime in 2015 – influenced by a few things – an image appeared in my head of someone performing in sign, of someone just standing and performing a text in sign language. Someone doing something I don’t have the capacity to do.
In the same year someone wrote about how my work uses the space of the theatre as one of meeting. This chimed with conversations that I was having at the time about difference, difficulty, and diversity in the space of the theatre, as well as the wider world.
Soon enough these thoughts all started talking to each other, and they became the starting point for a new piece of work. Encouraged and supported by the team at Fuel, and after a week meeting and exploring how to work with in this way with a diverse group of people at HOME in Manchester (the most people I have ever worked with on an Andy Smith text), these ideas have become this play. With the help of Royal Conservatoire Scotland in Glasgow, some of the text is about to be translated from English into BSL and the piece will be performed integrating these different languages.
Summit is a new play that, in three different ways, tells the story of a meeting. A meeting that is held at a time of crisis. A meeting organised to deal with a potentially catastrophic event or set of events. It will preview on the 8th and 9th of May at The Brighton Festival and there will be three performers onstage – one signing, two speaking. The other delegates at this meeting are played or represented by the people who are sitting in the audience. For the first time ever for a piece of writing by me, this is where I will be.
Hope to see you there.
Festival Hot Seat...The Big Song
The Big Song is a celebration of singing and its central role in the universe and our own civilisation by poet, actor, political activist and dramatist Heathcote Williams, with arrangement and musical direction by Kirsty Martin and narration by Roy Hutchins, who tells us more about the piece.
Can you tell us what your show is about?
The show celebrates song. Why do we sing and how did singing begin? The show looks at how the universe sings – the comets, the planets, gravitational waves... We look at birdsong in depth and demonstrate why it has such a pull on our senses. Prehistoric and Neolithic song-lines are excavated – and a question is raised as to whether the origins of civilisation itself, Stonehenge and the Pyramids for example, were literally ‘sung’ into place. Singing as a tool for social justice is evoked through the Civil Rights Movement and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Finally, the piece looks at the physiological changes that occur within us when we listen to music or when we sing and how music acts as a catalyst for the generation of oxytocin, a kind of ‘700 million year old designer drug that makes people smile at each other’.
How and where will the work be staged?
At Brighton Dome. They’ll be a hundred-person choir comprised of the Hullabaloo Community Quire, Raise the Roof and RISE Up Singing. This choir will be conducted by Kirsty Martin with percussion from Rosie Bergonzi. I’ll be narrating the text alongside a BSL interpreter.
Why should someone come and see your show?
Song is central to our identity and our purpose and yet we rarely get an opportunity to reflect and celebrate its very existence… so here’s that chance. The evening will bring together collective voices to explore the evolution of song and as such, it’s an emotional experience, primal even. Songs act as vehicles for sadness and pain, anger and joy and it’s likely that you’ll experience all of these emotions throughout the show. At the same time, you’ll be navigated through the story of The Big Song, by a writer whose ability to celebrate natural history (this is, if you like, the natural history of song) is second to none. Heathcote Williams’ adeptness in crystalizing complexity with elegant prose and delightfully potent images, is wonderful to hear in itself; when underscored and brought to life by a hundred voices singing for the sheer joy of it, the experience becomes even more extraordinary and unique.
Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
During my last show, another collaboration with Heathcote Williams, I started working with choral activist, Kirsty Martin, who provided choirs to illustrate how poetry has been turned into song – songs that have been instrumental in bringing about change and social justice. Both Heathcote and I became fascinated with the power of song and why people sing together. I suggested to Heathcote that this might be the starting point for a new show; a show with which we could work closely with choirs to illustrate, this time, the powerful effect that singing has on us all. Heathcote immersed himself in the subject and a few months later sent me through his thoughts - a paean to song. Once I had completed the stage adaptation, Kirsty devised and scored the text by drawing on her extensive knowledge of both contemporary and traditional songs from all over the world. The result is a hybrid fusion: powerful lyricism, underscored with a wonderful song cycle and brought to life by a glorious choir.
Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
Our lives are a song cycle… lullabies are sung to us when we’re born, nursery rhymes teach us to clap and sing, and songs become integral to us finding our identity as adolescents. As we grow older we compile our own ‘desert island discs’, played at key moments in our lives and then also perhaps, at the end of our lives. We pass these songs on… but what is less well known is that the universe itself is, in a way, continually singing and that the cosmos has a ‘voice’. It beats through us at 7.83 hz and is known as The Schumann Resonance. Not being exposed to the ‘Earth’s heartbeat’ can unsettle us - astronauts needed Schumann Resonance Generators to be placed aboard spacecraft in order to prevent space sickness. With this cosmic beat pulsing around us all the time, it’s no wonder that songs and music are central to our existence and purpose, and that songs can unify us in a way that little else can. As Williams says, ‘When the world itself is out of joint and has dementia – singing can restore harmony.’ Life without song is hard to imagine – and this show seeks to explain why.
What sort of person is going to love this show?
The sort of person who has eclectic musical tastes. The sort of person who believes that art is for everyone, not just the few. The sort of person that delights in the artistic fusion that occurs when artists and participants passionately engage on a creative journey together. A free thinker. The sort of person who likes radical discourse which is emotionally and intellectually upfront and wears its heart on its sleeve. Lovers of song and choirs of course, but also lovers of natural history and the sky at night. People who love pre-history, politics and protest. People who want to sit back and hear a great story told with great songs. People who love to be surprised by our extraordinary universe - and want leave with a song in their heart.
What’s going to surprise people about this show?
The behaviour of sand dunes. Why Gorillas hum. The songs of Mickey the Singing Mouse of Devonport. Male Mexican free tailed bats. Mercury’s chirping. What happens when two black holes collide. The origin of amen. The extraordinary marsh warbler. A bird’s syrinx. How singing began. What the Latin word ‘cantare’ originally meant. The effect of singing to babies. The story of ANC freedom fighter Viyusile Mini. How songs can be a stealth weapon. The speed with which sound comes out of our mouths when we sing, and finally, the Suya’s unusual creation myth for the advent of song.
What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
Firstly, I’ve lived in Brighton for most of my life – so it’s always an exciting yearly event. In 1980 I was runner up in the Festival’s Opportunities for Young Playwrights competition; so aged 20 I had my first play produced by Brighton Festival. It was a significant moment for me; a moment that made my aspiration to work in the arts real for the first time. Since then, I’ve had a number of productions premiered at the Festival – most of them collaborations with Heathcote Williams (Whale Nation and The Poetry Army for example). To still be working for Brighton Festival and premiering work after 37 years feels like an achievement (actually, one that I haven’t thought of before writing this). Time flies. I suppose what’s great now, is that I’m able to share my excitement about performing for Brighton Festival with with so many others – in this instance a one hundred person choir, who have been an absolute joy to work with.
Do you have a favourite Festival moment?
A short while ago I was giving a foyer performance at Brighton’s Jubilee Library. After the reading a woman came up to me, saying that she recognised my voice. She asked if I had given a performance at Brighton Festival around 25 years ago… a piece about swimming with a wild dolphin off the coast of Ireland (Falling for A Dolphin, written by Heathcote). I said that I had, whereupon she told me about the impact that the show had had on her and how her life had changed, for the better, as a result (Heathcote’s writing often has this effect). It is, if you like, a post-festival favourite moment but it’s important because I’d like the choir to know that the show we’ll be performing could well have a profound and lasting effect on some our audience. Brighton Festival is a special festival, one that can and does change lives.
What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
Depart looks great. The choral element is directed by Kirsty Martin who, if she brings half the dynamism and energy to their choir as she has done for The Big Song, will make it worth going for that alone. It looks wonderfully atmospheric. It is set at Woodvale Cemetery at night; with aerialists, acrobats and video. It seeks to look ‘at the space between life and death’ – and yet it uses few words. After spending months immersed in the elegant text of The Big Song… this will be just the show for me to see, a complementary show to our offering, and yet linked by the evocative and ethereal sounds of a choir in full voice.
The Big Song is at Brighton Dome on 22 May
Assistant Producer Rob Jones on FK Alexander's (I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow
Assistant Producer Rob Jones, one of our Brighton Festival programming team, caught FK Alexander’s performance (I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow at Edinburgh Fringe last year, and says Brighton Festival audiences are in for a treat.
Firstly, wow. I Had no idea what to expect with this show as I had only heard through a friend that this was an artist not to be missed. I’d never come across FK Alexander, a Glasgow based performance artist, equally mysterious as she is prolific.
We were taken down to the basement in Summerhall where we received an admission ticket along with simple instruction on how the piece would work. We were led to a room where the FK stood centrally hands on hips staring straight ahead with a band behind her, poised and ready – there was also a massive X marked in the middle of the floor of the room. The piece begins when an audience member stands on the X.
I should also mention that there is a thick wall of sound as the enter the room which engulfs you, it feels like the cross between a drone and static white noise, it is loud but not abrasive and it puts you into an almost meditative state. It’s a loving sound. Once on the X, FK takes that audience member’s admission ticket and cues a recording of Judy Garland’s final performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow at Carnegie hall. This is the final recording of Garland singing this song.
FK then embarks on a routine where she dons costume items travels to the X to hold hands with the audience member and begins to sing the song in perfect unison with Judy’s vocals through this wall of static sound. What happens here is very unusual, the performance becomes part one-to-one and part to a wider audience. FK serenades the audience member never breaking gaze through the entire song, this ends with an intense strobe and drone and then the whole thing starts over with a new audience member taking their place on the X.
Something really tender and beautiful happens within this piece as time goes on; participants have different reactions to the serenade and the majority are deeply moved. You get this real sense of willing for things to be better and wanting things to change, the audience are allowed to move around so you can watch from the performer’s and the audience member’s perspective. There’s also something terribly sad within the context of the song which has so much history and followed Judy Garland throughout her entire life, at first it feels hopeful blissful and romantic and then with further examination it feels like a haunting, cyclical elegy for the role of the artist. This is an extremely powerful piece of performance which works on many different levels for audience members all powerfully driven by FK’s resilience.
This festival FK Alexander will be bringing her haunting powerful performance to the Spire to share with the people of Brighton. This is unlike anything we have had at Brighton Festival before and is something that I would urge everyone to experience as it really is something special – words don’t do it justice, it creates an incredible feeling of closeness, wonder and sadness combined. Everyone can get something from this and should.
(I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow is at The Spire 26-28 May
Lulu.com, sponsor of the Storytelling Army, launches a short story competition on the theme of Everyday Epic
Lulu.com, sponsor of Brighton Festival commission the Storytelling Army, has launched a short story writing competition inspired by Guest Director Kate Tempest’s theme Everyday Epic.
Lulu.com’s short story competition is open to all Sussex residents over the age of 18. Writers are asked to respond to the theme selected by Kate Tempest for Brighton Festival 2017, Everyday Epic. From extraordinary moments amongst the ordinary, to the little victories against the odds, writers are invited to reflect on the observations and achievements of our daily lives which we piece together to celebrate and share our common humanity.
Four lucky competition winners will be announced during the last week of the Festival. The winning stories will be combined into an anthology, alongside stories from the Storytelling Army, and published as a paperback book. UK based marketing and PR company Authoright will also be supporting the book with a publicity campaign once it is published; ensuring the Everyday Epic stories reach as many readers as possible after the competition ends.
Brighton Festival is working with nabokov theatre company and Guest Director Kate Tempest to assemble and mobilise the Storytelling Army: a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life - including those who are homeless and vulnerably housed – who will perform in unexpected locations throughout Brighton over the last weekend of this year’s Festival.
Nigel Lee, CEO of Lulu.com says ‘Since time began, we as a species have passed down our teachings from generation to generation through the medium of storytelling. From the camp fire to the soap box, from dusty books to the internet, storytelling is how we evolve, it is essential to our existence and vital to the fabric of our communities.
‘Everyone has a story to tell. Lulu.com has amassed our own story telling army of over a million authors in 226 countries. To get on the ground and be part of real-life story telling in Brighton and to publish a selection of those winning stories is a fantastic opportunity for Lulu to further its heart felt cause, freedom of expression and the right to share. The whole initiative speaks to our own ethos, share your story, without profit censorship, without manipulation from profiteers, without judgment.’
Entry is free and stories must be no more than 4,000 words (there is no minimum word count) and must be received electronically by midnight GMT on 15 May 2017. Entries must be submitted electronically as a word or pdf document and the document must contain: your name, your address, your age, your e mail contact details, the title of your submission, the word count, your twitter handle (if relevant). Entries should be emailed to email@example.com.
Interview: Tim Crouch on Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore
Brighton-based theatre artist Tim Crouch has a longstanding relationship with Brighton Festival (The Complete Deaths, I Malvolio). This year, he returns as director of Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore. Uniquely, the names of the three characters are the only words spoken in the play.
Can you tell us what your show is about?
We’re working with a script by an amazing playwright called Gary Owen, but Gary has been incredibly generous in the process in that he is aware, and we are aware, that we will discover things in rehearsal. So he’s given us the characters of Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore, the setup, and the events of the story, and our job in rehearsal has been to give flesh to those things, to find humanity, physicality and play in those things.
I think there’s a really good conversation to be had about subtexts, what’s being said underneath the words, and what do we get off people’s body language and facial expressions. Because that’s all these three characters really have to go on, they just have the energy of their expressions, the volume and the tone of their expressions, and the energy of their physicality, to communicate. That’s a really interesting subject for someone to take away from this show, really: if we remove language from the equation, how detailed we can still be in our levels of communication.
Can you tell us more about the characters?
So what we kind of have is three clowns, really. They’re not clowns like circus clowns, but they’re clowns in the European tradition of openness and idiocy and glorious stupidity and being in the present moment. We have a fantastic physical variety: we have a clown who is tall and lanky; and we have a clown who is short and bouncy; and we have a clown who is lovely and large and slow and cuddly.
Who will enjoy the play?
Well anyone who feels that sometimes their vocabulary is not as expansive as they would want it to be. It’s about trying to come to grips with the complexities of the world and having very few words with which to do it. And that’s a pretty clear state for a three or four-year old, five-year-old or even someone my age really – particularly for young people who are struggling because they have so much to say but they don’t yet have the words to say it with.
How do you hope audiences will react?
I think the thing to say above all else is it’s a really funny thing, a really funny play, it’s a play unlike any play I know, really. And when I first read it I was just aware of the hugeness of it, the scale of what it communicates. So, there’s lots in it, even though there is that limitation, there’s a huge amount in it about status, about how we coexist with each other, how we get on with our friends or our siblings, or mates that we love and sometimes hate and have difficulties with and sometimes can’t do without. It’s a joyful play, it’s a play in the true spirit of the word ‘play’. It’s not a piece of literature but it’s a piece of live theatre and I think it’ll be very responsive to the audience, to the children in the audience, to the laughter of the audience. With that kind of clowning you always play off the audience, you don’t pretend there’s a wall in front of you and the audience, you’re completely with them, in them; they affect, infect, change, influence what you do and you then have that same effect on them.
Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore is at Theatre Royal Brighton 8-9 May
Brighton Festival artist Hollie McNish wins prestigious Poetry Prize
Brighton Festival artist Hollie McNish has won the prestigious Ted Hughes Poetry Award for New Work in Poetry for her third collection Nobody Told Me.
Taken from McNish’s personal diaries, Nobody Told Me combines poetry and storytelling, describing her experiences of pregnancy and motherhood.
She was chosen over six other shortlisted artists for the £5,000 prize, which was announced at a ceremony on 29 March, and The Poetry Society’s Ted Hughes award judges included award-winning poets Jo Bell and Bernard O’Donoghue and singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams.
McNish is known for her viral YouTube videos, which have collectively reached 4 million views, and her performance at Brighton Festival 2015 with Kate Tempest and George the Poet. She was UK Slam poetry champion in 2009, and has previously released two spoken word albums and a poetry collection.
Hollie McNish will be appearing at Brighton Festival this year at An Evening with Picador Poetry on Fri 19 May. The line-up includes Guest Director Kate Tempest along with Richard Osmond, Glyn Maxwell and Lorraine Mariner.
VIDEO: Choreographer and designer Theo Clinkard talks about This Bright Field
Brighton-based choreographer and designer Theo Clinkard spoke to Vámonos creative agency about dance, design and his new show This Bright Field which has its world premiere at Brighton Festival on 25 May.
'It's important to me as a contemporary artist to not be making work within an arts bubble, but to be responding to the world that we are living in, and this is a time of massive change. With the new work there's been something for me about not taking for granted some of our basic human rights'
Interview: Richard Nelson on The Gabriels
Tony Award-winning playwright Richard Nelson spoke to Edwin Gilson, Entertainment Writer at Brighton’s Argus Guide about his highly-acclaimed trilogy of plays, The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family ahead of their UK premiere at Brighton Festival
When did the idea for The Gabriels first come about?
I wanted to write about an American family with three plays all around the same national event – the election. Unlike with The Apple Family Plays [the trilogy Nelson brought to Brighton in 2015], which were about people moving to the little village of Rhinebeck and finding a home, this is a family of people who feel pushed out. These people are feeling like they are losing a home.
The play was written in real time. Does the fact that you were reacting immediately to the unfolding election keep the script alive?
Yes, I think so. The goal of the play, in essence, was to try and see the world through these characters’ eyes. I was constantly reading the news and trying to figure out what they might be thinking. I wanted to make it as immediate to the time of the play as possible. The last play is set, and was performed, between five and seven at night which is why the characters never know the result of the election. Each play I would write up to the opening night. They act as three snapshots in a year.
Would it be fair to say the play is more about people and their relationships than the election per se?
It’s not about who is going to win or lose. There are little to no arguments in the play and as a writer I’m not trying to make a point in any way. I just want to show how the familial, the personal, the financial, the artistic and political are all intertwined. The ambition of the play is to present the complexity of people. In each of the plays the characters cook a meal. When you’re cooking, conversations happen in a certain way that is very different to any other time. Human beings are the only animals that cook, therefore cooking is one of the things that makes us human beings. The play is about the complexity of human beings who centre around this fundamentally human activity.
What kind of people are The Gabriels? Where would you place them in the American social scene?
They grew up in this very small village but they are very cultured and play musical instruments. These are educated people who feel the pressure of a world in which they are being forgotten – at least in terms of economics.
The blurb for Women of a Certain Age, the third play, includes the line “the game seems rigged”. Is there a sense of determinism at play?
There is a refrain in the play that is quite significant in that sense; “what about us.” That feeling goes all the way through the play and it suggests a certain futility.
In an interview you said your characters are marked by a certain sense of “exile”. Can you pinpoint where this theme comes from in your work?
I think that’s accurate. It’s that sense of home, whether that’s feeling at home, homeless or in the process of losing a home. That theme is related to that feeling of not quite fitting in or being forgotten or lost. I also think my characters are resilient and there is a strength to them in the face of some serious problems, though.
Why did you take the decision to stop the narrative before Donald Trump was announced as winner?
Well, the play is not about the election in a news-like way. I’m trying to write about how the politics relates to people in both human and complex terms. I think that’s what’s not conveyed often in the news or television. It’s much more about the horse race and who wins and loses. That’s something others do – it’s not what the play is about.
How did you go about merging the personal and the political in a subtle way, without overstating the election narrative?
I think if any of us look at our lives, politics is involved. If there’s any kind of political event it’s going to be talked about by you and your family. It might not come up as the number one thing you have to keep talking about, though – it’s more incidental than that.
What was the audience atmosphere like in the election night performance of Women of a Certain Age?
It was an extraordinary night because the audience had no idea what was happening in the voting while they were watching the play. Everybody lived in that moment, in the present. We left and there was a party with big television screens so we could see the results. Everyone in the audience and those involved with the show were very, very surprised.
This interview was originally published in the Argus Guide. Visit the website for the latest news, in-depth interviews, features and reviews on the best events in Brighton, Hove and Sussex