Sunday, 11 February 2018

Sea Dramaturgy: Tom Froy @ Camden

Presented by RED Company

The Sea is a new play by Tom Froy which explores isolation and disconnection from human contact in London.
An individual confronts their feeling of being alone in a city of 8.7 million others. They journey through London to see how other people ‘do life’, going to football matches and main squares, trying to overcome their sense of insignificance. Oxford Circus is too busy, you feel lost; Tottenham Marshes are too wide, you feel lost as well. Alone in a swarm of people; alone in an empty field.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I moved to London just over 18 months ago and immediately felt the sense of being just one individual among millions of others. Lots of people move to London because there’s so much going on, but then find that there’s too much going on: it can be hard to feel significant. ‘The Sea’ is about living in London and trying to feel like someone 
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Yes. Most theatres have bars attached and people hang around after the show and talk about stuff. Even if they aren’t directly talking about what they’ve just seen, something might have sparked a thought about something else.
I do worry that so many theatres charge so much to come and see their shows that theatre will remain a preserve of the upper middle class. How can you write a play about the nation or a movement and then only admit the richest classes? Do you really think you’re going to make a difference?

How did you become interested in making performance?
I’m primarily a writer, so I direct to get my work shown. But I am increasingly start to address the text as if I wasn’t the writer. I like to work with the cast to reinterpret the text. We are currently adding a lot of dance and physical theatre to what was previously quite a still, quiet text.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
 I think it’s very important to instil a spirit of equality between director and actors. We are all working together on the production. ‘The creative input of three is greater than that of 1’ is a phrase I use a lot
Does the show fit with your usual productions?
 Yes and no. It’s very simple- cast of two- and addresses mildly existentialist themes of communication, relationships and identity. That said, the introduction of dance is both a deviation and continuation of the norm. In ‘Hommo’, we used purely comic dancing as a variation on the straight medium of acting. This time we are blending both to complement each other. I am bit scared of saying this is a dance piece, because I’m not a choreographer (and neither should I be, anyway) and I don’t want to say it’s ‘physical theatre’ because that’s something much bigger. So it’s different because there’s some ‘serious dancing’, as oppose to previous productions, when there was ‘comic dancing’.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Well I always hope the audience have a good time. Even if a play addresses tough themes, or drifts into Theatre of Cruelty, it should still be fun. You shouldn’t leave the theatre thinking that in no way did you have a good time.
I feel like writing plays is like asking the audience ‘Do you feel like this as well?’. So I hope some people will say ‘I feel like this too.’

Social media and digital communication seem to provide an escape. So many more bars, restaurants, cafes, galleries, parks, pubs, novelty pop ups to discover and explore. How could anyone feel lonely in a city where there are 3615 pubs, 245 night clubs and 108 cinemas?
Could you call London a community? All we’ve got in common is that we’ve never met and likely never will. If every seat was sold in the run of this play, the audience would constitute 0.00002% of the population of the city. 60 individuals shared the same space for an hour and a half on one night. How could that feel significant when there are 8787832 others?
Does digital communication overcome isolation? Are we more or less connected? Is the urban environment damaging our happiness? Can anyone really feel like someone in a big city?
8.7 million people live in London: why would anyone feel significant?

About the company

RED Company is a new theatre company based in Upper Holloway. Our plays deal with themes of loneliness and communication.
This is Tom Froy’s fourth production. Previous credits include ‘Hommo’ (2017), ‘Feelings of an Almost Human Nature’ (2017) and ‘Their Significant Other’ (2015).

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