Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Clickbait Dramaturgy: Milly Thomas and Holy Race Roughton @ Theatre503

Clickbait by Milly Thomas
The Latchmere, 
503 Battersea Park Road, London SW11 3BW

Tuesday 19th January – Saturday 13th February 2016

Clickbait is a darkly comic new play about society’s attitude to porn and the women who make it for themselves. 

From the exciting all female writer/director team behind A First World Problem (Milly Thomas and Holly Race Roughan) comes this blistering study of how pornography is
changing women's relationship to sex in the 21st Century.

What was the inspiration for Clickbait? 

Milly - I first got the idea after reading a news story a while back about a young girl who had gone on holiday to Magaluf and performed a sex act in a club in exchange for a holiday. I remember being particularly shocked at the bile that ensued and for some reason the story wouldn’t let me go. 

It made me look at myself and my sisters and friends and wonder about us all. About what we’d do. I had a conversation with Holly that turned into a first draft which then grew and turned into a story about sisters, the porn industry, the world of business, the internet and sexual politics. 

How did you go about gathering the team for it? 

Holly - Milly and I worked on her debut play A First World Problem last year at 503. This production was a turning point for me as a young director as it was the beginning of a real sense of who I was as an artist and having an exhilarating clarity on my aesthetic taste. 

I had a great team of peers working on this show, including the actor / movement director Katie Payne, JMK Award designer Frankie Bradshaw and the brilliant recently graduated producer Jessica Campbell. After Milly sent me the first draft of Clickbait earlier this year I was determined to reassemble this inspired female team. Milly’s writing to me is pulsing, youthful and often outrageous, and it demands bold decisions from its Creatives. I can’t wait to see what we all make together. It’s a generation Y play with a generation Y team!

What made you decide on Theatre 503? 

Holly - Theatre503 has supported Milly and I as a pairing for the last two years. It has become a safe space for us to make bold choices, and to develop as artists. Having been Assistant Director / Associate Director at the NT, RSC, and Royal Court in the past two years, there is a feeling of coming home to be back on the fringe, but in such a well-supported environment. The artistic team at this venue have such integrity and a rigorous attitude to new writing. Theatre503 has had a great year, and we are excited to be kicking off 2016 for them.

Was your process typical in of the way you develop a play? 

Milly - I would say this has been particularly unusual process in that while it is subject matter I’m chomping at the bit to talk about, this structure is somewhat of a departure for me, but feels right for this. Holly is an excellent dramaturg and I always leave sessions feeling fired and wanting to shake it all up. It’s been exciting to watch it grow into something that Holly and I proud of that we can’t wait to share.  

What do you hope the audience will experience? 

Milly - I honestly don’t know – but I hope whatever they do experience gets them talking about how they feel. Auditioning for Clickbait was fascinating as we had so many people come in with such extreme reactions to the script which was really exciting. Some people said they felt empowered, others said they felt horrified, so I’m really looking forward to seeing people’s reactions and hearing the discussions. 

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?

Milly - I feel very lucky to be a playwright right now. There is a current wave of voices that make me so excited about British theatre. It feels pressing and immediate and it gets people talking. Writing is my way of documenting the world as I see it and my way of having discussions with people and making some noise. The creatives on our team, Holly, Jessica Campbell, Jack Sain, Katie Payne and Frankie Bradshaw are all young people with vision and guts. I’m thrilled to be working with them all again and getting messy. 

Are there any other questions that might help me to understand the meaning of dramaturgy in your work? 

Holly - Dramaturgy to me is a shape-shifting role - it comes in so many different forms and is completely different for each writer I work with. Sometimes it is just about reading the near finished draft and asking the right questions, and at other times it has taken me and the playwright days of knocking the play around with actors in a room.

Milly and I have a very personal and practical dramaturgical relationship, we tend to roll our sleeves up very early on in a process and discuss what Milly wants the play to be, and we go through many drafts. Scenes get cut and then added back, the play goes through different structures, we discuss the characters, their relationships, then we cut characters, add new characters, and we have been known to change whole sub plots. It is extremely collaborative and intensive process, but thrilling. It is underpinned by a long friendship that allows a shorthand and trust between us. 

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