Interview: Creators of ‘The Days In Between’26 April 2017
CONTENT WARNINGS: TRAUMA, SEXUAL ASSAULT
Madeleine Johnson interviews Sara Laurena [writer], Karla Livingstone-Pardy [director] and Freya McGrath [producer] of Four Letter Word Theatre’s ‘The Days In Between’.
MJ: So, Sara, first things first: tell me about your creative process in writing this piece.
SL: I began writing this show in the subject Scripts for Contemporary Theatre in 2016. What was workshopped in that class was an entirely different piece, but the feedback from classmates shaped the concept this show now explores. I found all the commentary focused in on the melodramatic portrayal of sexual assault, despite the story being about life after this gendered trauma. In a bit of a light bulb moment, I realized the stigma around representing trauma in theatre was misconstrued and sought to poke holes in it.
MJ: What’s something that’s been really challenging in writing this?
SL: It’s been a challenge validating why I’m writing it in the first place! However feeling like you need to justify your work or stories or voice is also in part the reason I pushed myself to applying the piece with Four Letter Word.
MJ: How has it been to watch Karla bring the piece to life with the cast?
SL: Karla is an incredible director and her vision for this show is beautifully poignant. It’s been really heart-warming seeing her work with the cast, bringing her own integrity and honesty to the piece. I sit in on rehearsal, but my part in this collaborative process has been very much a sounding board for all the ideas in the text and what they inspire in Karla; it’s been enlightening and joyful handing my words over to her creative hands.
MJ: Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
SL: Only that in coming to see the show, and in leaving the show after, I would suggest that every person walks out of there ready to look everyone they encounter in the face and be open to what they may not show externally. And maybe understand that people have layers. Like an onion. Only people taste better.
MJ: Um, ok. Onwards. Could you introduce yourself, Karla?
KLP: I am Karla, and I am directing this show. It was very exciting when I saw that the work that was being put on was a new work by Sara, who I was already familiar with. I was really drawn to it because I trusted Sara’s voice and ability to convey something that can be really difficult to understand in a more interesting way.
MJ: What’s something that’s been difficult for you in putting this together as a director?
KLP: I’ve had a few moments. I think again, at first, I was so excited and then I got offered the role and then I was very scared or putting on a new work, [particularly] one that I know is personal to the writer. I felt quite a big responsibility to do it justice and do it in a way that served the writing and also what Sara wanted from the work, so it’s been really wonderful having that collaboration, that’s made that a lot easier. But I was worried about that process because I didn’t know how to approach a new work that I knew so much about and I was passionate about and balance having my own vision with that of the writers’. Also I think the content is just difficult to work with, not just for me, but for everyone involved. It’s a hard show to do.
MJ: When you’re typically doing a work, the director doesn’t have much to do with the writer at all, because either the writer’s been dead for five hundred years or is just not involved, how has that experience been for you? How has that compared to work you’ve done in the past as a director?
KLP: It’s really different. I feel really lucky to have been able to work with Sara on it, because sometimes I just don’t know if something looks good, or I don’t know if it’s serving the writing quite right, and then I can just be like “Hey Sara, can you come in and just like check, what you think?” And sometimes we agree, we pretty much always agree, but like there have probably been a few moments where I’ve decided to go a slightly different direction, but it’s been really nice to have that contact.
MJ: What’s been a really fun part of the rehearsal process?
KLP: Um, our cast are really funny. And I think the fact that when I was casting it, my priority was not only on bringing people in who I felt like there could be chemistry with other actors that we were casting, but on bringing in people who weren’t just necessarily dramatic actors. A few of the people in the cast I think I’ve only seen in comic stuff before, and I really wanted to bring that brevity to the show. Like working on the funny scenes has been my favourite part, because they’re so funny. The cast are really funny!
FM: They are! Even just my experience of them is just like: you guys are a riot.
KLP: And then I get caught up in it! And they’re like: you need to direct now, and I’m like: oh, yeah.
MJ: Why should people come and see the show?
KLP: Because it’s a new work, and supporting new work is really important and exciting and we’re not doing something by a dead white man, which, you know, always a plus! And also because it’s talking about something that I think the arts sometimes has difficulty representing. I think it’s a way of listening to survivors, and listening to people who have a mental illness and I think it’s important to do that as well.
SL: Without casting a judgement on them, either.
MJ: Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
KLP: Yes! Four Letter Word got an access grant, which is very exciting, and we decided that the best way to use that would be on the captioning. We’ve worked with a creative coder/graphic artist to develop this system which is projections and images as well as the captions, so every show is going to be captioned because the idea was to have that as an actual aesthetic part of the show. And we’re also having a relaxed performance and a tactile tour.