Monday, 22 January 2018

Your Dramaturgy: Sarah Meadows @ Vault Festival

YOU by Mark Wilson

VAULT Festival (The Pit), The Vaults, Leake Street, SE1 7NN
Wednesday 14 – Sunday 18 February 2018, 19:45 (Sunday Matinee, 16:45)

“You still have the clothes, don’t you; the ones they let you keep? Still in that drawer in the upstairs room, and the piece of faded blue card with his birth-weight and the time – blue for a boy.”

Longsight Theatre presents the award-winning YOU, a powerful play about adoption, by BBC Radio 4 writer Mark Wilson. YOU stars Kathryn O’Reilly (Our Country’s Good for Out of Joint, ITV’sLewis, BBC One’s Call The Midwife) and Stephen Myott-Meadows (Hoax: My Lonely Heart for the Manchester Royal Exchange, Channel 4’s Hollyoaks) and is directed by Sarah Meadows (Where Do Little Birds Go?Mr Incredible).

What was the inspiration for this performance?

As the director I was compelled to direct this for a number of reasons. The first and most personal being that I myself am adopted and when Mark and I connected, I had not had much contact with other adopted people, as is often the case. I was sure of how potentially powerful us coming together to make the show could be. Particularly as the show explores the adoption story mainly form the mothers perspectives. It is important to me that honest adoption narratives are shared and reach the adoption community as there is often a shroud of shame around it which must be lifted and public understanding changed.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

As above, it is a vital public discussion. More and more people are adopting and fostering so it’s essential we talk about it. We are working hard to reach the adoption community as much as a general audience and to create public conversation, such as this as much as possible.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I originally trained as an actor and very soon found that my instinct was as a director. The ability to make choices and unearth and share stories is such a gift.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

I decided early on to stage the show in traverse, with the audience in two sides, facing each other. This for me was about creating a connection between the audience and performers and starting a conversation. The performers take on numerous roles within the adoption narrative and the approach is more like storytelling than anything with the intention of allowing everyone in the room space to really think about the implications of what happens.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

I don’t think I have a usual production style, apart from perhaps stories and ways of telling stories that aim to confront something in all its messy truth.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope they enjoy it mainly! We’ve got a wonderful creative team bringing it to life and a great home for it at Vault Festival. I hope it gets them talking. The themes within the play resonate much broader than the adoption community and anyone with a family will get something from it. I do also hope that it gives many people a platform to see their story being told regardless of the adoption narrative they may connect with.

This ‘monumental play’ (Fringe Guru) was first performed by Longsight Theatre at the Brighton Fringe Festival in May 2015, where it won the Brighton Festival Award for Theatre, the Argus Angel Award for Artistic Excellence and Fringe Review Outstanding Theatre Award.
Kathleen sits anxiously waiting for the arrival of a man whom she had given up for adoption thirty years before and who has now traced her. Years spent insulating herself from the pain of separation and loss fall away as she begins to recall the events, the relationships and conversations – both imagined and real – with a clarity that brings each of her story’s characters to life.

Mark Wilson’s YOU is a stark exploration of the hopeless exhausting rage of rejection, self-acceptance, love and forgiveness. The play encapsulates all the raw and complex emotions of the players in an adoption narrative, giving a powerful insight into how complicated and painful it can be for all involved.

Writer Mark Wilson comments, ‘Looking back now I see YOU, just perhaps, as having come from a need to hear my own mother, hear her story; a need to conjure her as a way of managing the loss I realised I was feeling. It would have been so obvious for me to have told the adopted person’s story. That was my experience after all. But from the beginning it was her story that started to be told. Her voice. I think, too, there was an overwhelming need to forgive or self-accept… there’s no blame; no ‘goodies and baddies’. It’s simply peopled by characters trying to do their best which, I think, is what most of us, knowingly or otherwise, wake up each morning intending to do. So, yes, it’s about adoption, definitely, and for me it’s also much more.'

Both writer and director are adopted, and Sarah Meadows continues, ‘This play gives both Mark and I as adoptees and theatre makers the opportunity to communicate the complex reality of adoption; to reach out to the adoption community but to also start a conversation universally about how we publicly understand and talk about it’.

Longsight Theatre makes award-winning, brave, intimate theatre with a focus on new writing.

Performance Dates 
Wednesday 14 – Sunday 18 February 2018, 19:45 (Sunday Matinee 16:45)
Running time 
1 hour
VAULT Festival (The Pit), The Vaults, Leake Street, SE1 7NN

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