A play for the internet generation
With opening night right around the corner, I had the opportunity to interview the show’s Writer and Director, Ariel Hebditch. Here, she tells me a little about the process of creating a play…
So, what is Hooded about?
A: The premise of the play is that three female students decide to kidnap the CEO of a worldwide social media platform and hold him to ransom with the idea that they’re going to get his money and then distribute it to all of his workers, who he pays unfairly.
Could you tell me a bit about the characters in your play?
A: So first there is Leigh who is very headstrong and she’s very much a self-appointed leader of the group and she’s aggressive in her carrying out of the plan. Sophie is very much having second thoughts. She’s doubting what they’re doing and throughout the play becomes more empathetic towards Brian, who is the billionaire. And finally there is Robyn who lies somewhere in between and tries really hard to keep the peace between her friends.
What inspired you to write this play?
A: Well I’ve written shorter pieces before, for example short sketches or monologues, but this is my first full length play, and it’s really a piece that stems from life and some of my some anxieties which are playing out in the world that we’re living in. I use my phone so much and I’m always on social media as I think we all are, and it made me think, is there any way we could somehow stop that? Is there any way we can stop these people from always accumulating more and more money? It’s especially pertinent as a young woman hearing about lots of men in power who are using young women and abusing their authority, and I wanted to imagine a situation where the young women are in control and see what that might look like.
I noticed the social media company in Hooded is called Voyeurme, which was something that stood out to me. What made you choose that name?
A: Obviously it comes from voyeurism, and I wanted to explore the way I think everyone is so focused on appearances, so focused on the way they present themselves in real life and on social media. It’s like we have to be constantly alert and switched on, ready for anyone to be looking at us at any one time, so I wanted to indicate that with the name of the company.
The play is being shown at the Corpus Playroom, which is a very small and intimate stage, and I was wondering how you have used this space and your actors to tackle something as large and expansive as the issue of social media?
A: It’s definitely something that I thought about a lot when staging the play. It’s set in a hotel room and I think it’s quite nice having the intimate space of the Corpus Playroom because the audience is so close and it feels so familiar. The women in the play have to be in a close proximity with this captured man for a long period of time. We’re going for quite a naturalist staging so it’s going to be interesting to see how the audience react.
Do you have a favourite moment in the play?
A: That’s a difficult question because I don’t want to give too much away! I think one of my favourite moments has come out of the rehearsal process. It’s right at the beginning, as the play opens with Brian lying face down on the floor with a bag over his head and his hands tied behind his back. There are two people stood over him, and I think it’s a fantastic image.
Following on from that, what do you hope the audience takes away from your play when they come and see it?
A: What I want to really highlight is just how involved these billionaires are in our lives, I think we don’t spend enough time with just recognising like how insane it really is. I want to show the destructive power of men shaping our society as we know it today. Female empowerment is really important to me, but it’s also important to show these women as imperfect, as I think a lot of women in the media and on stage are portrayed as a very picture-perfect version of women, whereas women are really just people too.
If you had to describe Hooded in three words, what would they be?
A: I think I would say power, money and fear. Power is really key to the play, it’s the central reason why these women are doing what they’re doing, and I think in that respect money is also very important. It defines quite a few of the characters and their desires in life.
Thank you so much for chatting to me about your play! Finally, is there anything you would like to add that we’ve not covered so far?
A: I’m asexual and I get really annoyed about the lack of asexual representation in the media, so I made a point to write in asexual characters into my play, and I’ve been really lucky to get asexual actors to play the characters as well, which is just great as I think it is so important to get visibility for something that not many people know anything about.
Hooded promises to be a darkly comic, but thought-provoking play. It is a piece of new writing that you will not want to miss!
Hooded is showing on the 10th – 14th of May at 7:00 pm at the Corpus Playroom. Book your tickets here.
Feature Image Credits: Michael Kabasele