Monday, 30 May 2016

Screwed Dramaturgy: Kathryn O’Reilly

Screwed by Kathryn O’Reilly
Theatre503, The Latchmere, 503 Battersea Park Road, London SW11 3BW
Tuesday 28th June - Saturday 23rd July 2016
Ticking time-bombs Luce and Charlene are 30-something binge-drinking soulmates. They clock in after a heavy night out on the tiles, popping caffeine pills and downing miniatures on the factory floor, boasting about last night’s sexual conquests. When you're living for today it's hard to think about tomorrow.

Screwed is a gripping and hilarious portrait of a dysfunctional friendship. This powerful play is a debut drama from Kathryn O’Reilly and is directed by award-winning Sarah Meadows (Where Do Little Birds Go?, VAULT Festival and Edinburgh).

This new play explores a variety of taboo subjects including socio-economic status and current attitudes to diversity in a setting that highlights ladette culture, the pervasive insidious nature of alcoholism and violence amongst women.
What was the inspiration for this performance?
Screwed developed out of a two-hander poem I’d written for actress Eloise Joseph and myself that we used to perform at various events. Very basically it was two women, best friends who always fantasied about their ideal man whilst out on the pull. But, one of the two already had her ideal man. However, one night she found out that behind her back the ideal man was sleeping with her best friend. It was funny and a bit crude.

Once I decided to write the poem into a play, partly prompted by director Ramin Gray, it began to reveal itself to me. And as it grew, it got deeper and darker. The two women became more raw, volatile, harder. They became ladettes, promiscuous, binge-drinking alcoholics. Especially with the introduction of the fourth character Doris, I further explored gender roles, sex roles and gender identification.
I’m really interested in what it means to be human. How we live and survive the life we have been given. How we treat each other and ourselves. Particularly how relationships change, distort and breakdown. How boundaries not just between one another but between one and one’s world are blurred, crossed and broken, and through one wrong decision everything can change.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
Different people have come and gone, come and stayed, but all of whom have been very generous with their time, skill, talent and support. The current team is the result of the plays journey over the past five years involving readings, work-shopping and development.

It all started in 2011 with a sharing at Arcola which lead to an industry reading later that year at Ovalhouse, by which time I had created the character Doris, and Rikki Beadle-Blair and Gary Beadle have both worked on the part. From that reading Cassandra Mathers who was then at Pleasance Theatre and Hannah Eidinow offered space for further development and an industry invited reading to take place there in 2012.

I first worked with Neil Grutchfield on my writing in 2010 and thought he was just brilliant, he is so clever and insightful. From the start Neil had seen the readings of Screwed and I knew I wanted to work with him on this so in 2013 I asked Neil if he would be the dramaturg, together we have been working on the script ever since, through many drafts! In 2014 Theatre Delicatessen very kindly offered space, and so myself, Neil, Eloise, Tas Emiabata, Nathan work-shopped the play with director Lucy Allan. Tas has been a major part of this project and is the educationalist for our accompanying workshops.

I always used the lack of money as an excuse to make it not happen, as I’d always been resolute in the fact that people had to be paid.
I guess I was always waiting for someone to go ‘I’ll put your play on and here’s 25 grand to do it’. After a discussion with Rikki Beadle-Blair I made the decision to produce Screwed myself and get funding. So I organised a final reading in 2015 in order to invite venues and get another producer to work with. 
I had met Philip & Christine Carne whilst I was at LAMDA and they supported me through my final year, and have never stopped supporting me. All through Screwed development they have been there and when they offered very generous financial support to get it on, that really encouraged me and boosted my confidence in getting more funding.  
Also all along Out of Joint and Max Stafford-Clark have very kindly and generously supported me and this play, Max has also has read many drafts and given me feedback and guidance. The final reading was at Out of Joint and I invited Sarah Meadows to direct and Stephen Myott-Meadows to play Paulo. Sarah’s agent Colin Blumenau then kindly offered support from The Production Exchange to help organise the reading.

Sarah, Stephen and myself had all worked together on a brilliant play by Mark Wilson called YOU, at Brighton Fringe Festival where we picked up three awards. I loved working with Sarah and Stephen so much I knew I wanted to work with them on Screwed.
However, after the reading it became apparent to me that I no longer wished to act in it, and be a producer and writer, it was one role too many. From that reading producer Maeve O’Neill came on board. For the production Eloise, Sarah and Stephen stayed, and Rikki Beadle-Blair was not available and so we began casting for Charlene and Doris. The designers, Catherine Morgan, Jamie Platt, Benedict Taylor and assistant director Monty Leigh are regular collaborators of Sarah’s and so she brought them onto the project. 
How did you become interested in making performance?

As a teenager I was part of a Saturday morning youth drama group, and the drama leader Nic Paris was directing a pro/am production of West Side Story. He cast me a Jet girl and it was thrilling. I was an amateur looking at these professionals and loving every minute of being in rehearsals and being on stage. Nic also gave me my first opportunity in performing my own poetry on stage. And so the journey began. Over the years I have worked as stage crew, a theatre technician, produced, ran drama workshops all the while pursuing writing with a dream of becoming a writer and having my work performed one day.      
Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
Yes, I think I seem to take a very long time to finish things or see things to their completion.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope they will enjoy themselves. We are very fortunate to be able to make theatre and go to the theatre. It’s an invaluable tool for education and a great place in which to loose oneself, be entertained and inspired. I hope it’s a rollercoaster of a journey, I want the audience to be gripped, chewed up and spat out. I hope they laugh and are moved by the story, challenged the characters and the themes that are highlighted.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I guess it’s about making the characters and their situation as real and as truthful as possible, within the world you create for them.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition? 
I wouldn’t say it falls neatly into any bracket. However, I would say my writing at the moment in terms of story is very much in the realm of kitchen sink drama. Which I love. 

Domestic situations of the lower middle class and working class people to explore social issues. Where characters are victims of their own circumstance. Which we could say we all are. Within all that you’ve got the multi-layered intricacies of human relationships and interactions. Also with this play, there is a lyrical element to the dialogue, a rhythm to the writing, and a type of poetry. I love magical and dream like elements. 

At the same time it’s heightened, and stylised. I also break the forth wall with direct address. I also hope it also in-yer-face theatre. So I think ultimately that Screwed plays with different forms.
Writer Kathryn O’Reilly comments, My aim is to engage and challenge audiences in a way that’s both artistic and personal. I want to shine a spotlight on current issues that aren’t going away and put these stories on stage.
This production, accompanying workshops and post-show discussions will offer a platform for discussion, stimulating the debate surrounding gender, class, binge drinking, violence and promiscuity among women and its cultural impact on society. 

Screwed is more pertinent today than ever before with more than 2.5m people drinking more in one day than the 14 units recommended per week (Financial Times, March 2016). As a result of habits like these, there has been a rise in alcohol binge related deaths and hospitalisations from violence by and towards women.
Kathryn O’Reilly is better known as an actress and will be starring in A View from Islington North at the Arts Theatre this June.
O’Reilly was a member of the Royal Court Young Writers programme. Her play Scarred was long listed for the Bruntwood Prize. She has been developing Screwed over the past few years. 
Performance Dates Tuesday 28th June – Saturday 23rd July 2016
Tuesday to Saturday, 7.45pm

Notes Ages 14+
Location Theatre503, The Latchmere, 503 Battersea Park Road,
London SW11 3BW,

Box Office Tickets are available priced £15 (£12 concessions)

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