The Cast and Crew get us yenergised for this controversial Play!
Firstly, congratulations, sold out show, why do you think Yen has appealed to the student body to such an extent pre-performance?
Hetty: ‘It’s different, it’s not very theatrical, it’s about real life. I think it appeals to students because the characters are of a relatable age but from a very different situation.”
Alice: “Not to mention publicity has been great! (Shout out to producers Megan Jamieson and Katy McCrae, and Gregor Petrikovic for some great photography).”
What drew you to Yen initially?
Hetty: “I wanted to write something that orientated around notions of nature and nurture and choice, and came across Yen while I was researching and just figured, well I can’t do it better than this guy…”
Alice: “I hated it initially (Hetty nods knowingly), it was so alienating and intense, but you learn to look beyond the shock to the reasoning behind everything.”
What has been the greatest challenge during the rehearsal process as directors?
Hetty: “Avoiding caricature, we have put a lot of effort into making sure the characters have enough depth. Also making actors feel comfortable. Getting to the crux of what their actors mean has helped avoid discomfort.”
(Without giving too much away) What are the elements of the play you are most excited and nervous for?
Hetty: “In terms of excited for, definitely seeing the reaction to the build and the climax and then the downfall!”
Alice: “And to the see talent and hard work of the actors pay off. But in terms of what I am most nervous for, probably shock factor, I feel I may be normalized to it all, I’m not sure how others will react. It is an isolating play, considering its naturalism, however, after the first reading or during performance, you realise the reason they are speaking in the manner they do is because of their surroundings…also, the actors getting hypothermia.”
Hetty: “Also its funny!”
Alice: “Yeah, it will be one of those things where if anyone laughs it will break the tension.”
First, Boys, now Yen and with Posh on the horizon, what is about texts that orientate around male adolescence and young men, that fascinate you as directors?
Hetty: “I don’t think it’s necessarily a gender thing I like to tackle work with characters of that age, their emotions, motives…”
Alice: “It may be boy centric, but it is written by women, which is really motivating for an aspiring writer not to mention a predominantly female production team and two great female actors.”
Hetty: “There is a lot of stigma around masculinity and theatre, but its an interesting and current topic, even "Posh" explores the extent of male emotions, which is something that can be portrayed in theatre but not in real life. I think it is important for all genders to see.
Both: “We like to make lads act…”
Lastly Hetty and Alice, directing, your degrees, social lives, how do you juggle it?
Alice: “As long as you keep it all under one roof its fine. (Glances suggestively at Hetty).”
Hetty: “What Alice means is if you don’t do the degree, everything else just falls into place.”
There are certain parts of the play that many student actors would consider “awkward” playing-how have you prepared and coped with these parts?
Gayaneh: “The obvious awkward scene for me is Hench and Jennifer’s first sexual encounter. Their naivety and excitement can make it quite a funny and endearing scene, so evoking the humour in their lack of experience is how we’ve got around the awkwardness.”
Danny: “We just kind of did it in the rehearsal, so it was alright. I genuinely think that’s the best way to do it, don’t overthink it, just get on with it”
Jack: "There have been challenges regarding some of Bobbie’s darker character traits. Portraying his racism, homophobia and sexism, for example, has been a little tricky since these are obviously things that I am neither familiar with nor try to acquaint myself with. I found that trying to be horrible like that was best achieved through emulation of dickheads and people you may have met who are dickheads.”
What would you say is the most unique feature of the Hetty/Alice double act?
Gayaneh: “They’re not afraid of making us redo a scene or a line again and again until it’s perfect, which is so key. Also they just understand how people work, which is why naturalism and the Alice/Hetty duo go together so perfectly, and how their plays are always so starkly realistic.”
Louisa: “When I’m watching rehearsal from the wings, Hetty stares at the actors onstage with a total poker face but Alice has such expressive reactions – she makes it painfully obvious when she doesn’t like something but fully weeps when she’s happy with us…”
Jack: “Alice shrugs a lot and is very health and safety conscious. Hetty on the other hand hurts people with props and set pieces; I believe this is sourced from a deep hatred within. The personality and directorial balance is something quite awesome to behold.”
Danny: “I like how as a directing duo you see both the big pictures and little pictures that make up the whole play. It’s fun to come to rehearsals.”
Fourth Wall Theatre presents 'Yen' by Anna Jordan will be running 8th-10th of March @ The Assembly Rooms Theatre