11 Questions with the cast of See Me Now – Flynt

flyntFormer development executive Flynt (née Daniel Inglés, née Gabriel) was reborn in Paris in 2012 under the instruction of Madame Paula, a legendary Latina courtesan, following a slight misunderstanding near a towpath. After some time perfecting his craft amongst wealthy ladies around the continent, Flynt returned to his home town of London, where he had to relearn everything, because the English still don’t seem to know what they want. A bi-lingual, multi-instrumental, adventure-seeking polymath, Flynt lists his hobbies as mixing us the perfect pink gin, giving you foot rubs, and always remembering exactly where we left the car.

If you could only eat one ‘Penny Sweet’ for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Probably Jelly Beans. A least there’s variety.

What is one common misconception about the sex industry you would like to change?

There is nothing seedy or wrong about paying for sex, as long as your provider has made that decision for themselves. Though I appreciate that ‘decision’ in many contexts is a complicated issue, which is why these things need talking about, and not be buried under bizarre legislation or moral posturing.

What is one thing you would like people to know about sex work? 

It comes in more flavours than there are Jelly Beans. I didn’t appreciate that until I got to know my fellow cast members. We all appear to have found our respective niches and then worked the hell out of them for whatever reason, be that good or bad. But sex work does seem to be necessarily solitary. It sounds like a contradiction given the physical exchange of the job, but there you go. And yes, many of us care very much about our clients – the nice ones, anyway (so I guess that’s more than one thing).

Is this your first time working in theatre? What’s it been like?

I’ve worked in both television and publishing, but never theatre, which forces collaboration like no other. Your deadline is a live space, and the feedback from audiences is immediate, and unpredictable, and intoxicating.

Describe the See Me Now rehearsal room vibes in three words (or emojis).

“Shitload of doors” (You really need to see the show to understand this!)

What did you want to be growing up?

A writer, actor or director. Professionally speaking, I have accomplished the first two, and only one of those also involved having sex for money …

If days were 28 hours long, what would you do with the 4 extra hours?

I’d cook! I love to cook and I never have time. My beautiful fiancee is from the Brazilian state of Bahia. She produces the most fantastic quick food with cheap ingredients and a pressure cooker. I need to get back in the kitchen.

What’s your favourite song and why?

It changes all the time, but in the show I play the blues piano for Dee, another cast member. She’s a pleasure to accompany, has a phenomenal voice, and her tune is really catchy. We all go home humming it.

What’s your favourite play or movie you’ve ever seen? 

Macbeth, Jaws, The Book of Mormon, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Big Leboswki .. a lot of the usual suspects. But I remember having dreams after seeing The Cherry Orchard  as directed by Sam Mendes with Simon Russell Beale in about 2009, that really affected me. I have a BA in English Lit but Chekov was a bit lost on me until then. My guiltiest pleasure is And Then There Were None  by Agatha Christi, which I saw as a fourteen year old boy somewhere in Ontario, Canada. It still amazes me that she could employ such broadly wooden characterisation and murder almost her entire cast in quite silly ways over ninety minutes or so, yet modern audiences, myself included, remain credulous and hypnotised. Theatre magic.

If you could have one supernatural power which would you choose and why?

Flight. But only while invisible.

Do you think you will want to continue being involved in theatre after this production?

Yes , at least with the Young Vic. It is a remarkable place to work, a worthwhile place to think, and has a fine bar in which to make friends and people-watch. Should it not happen, I will cherish the memory.

Flynt stars in See Me Now  which runs 11 Feb – 4 Mar in the Young Vic’s Maria. Tickets for this production are all sold out but you are welcome to join our returns queues from an hour before each performance. Find more information on See Me Now here

Behind See Me Now – Interview with Imogen Brodie and Kirsten Adam

A version of See Me Now was originally performed as part of The Brolly Project in August 2015, a Young Vic Taking Part project. The team worked closely with outreach projects across London to find a company of participants who have, or do work in the sex industry. The aim was to make an original performance created by the company, formed by whatever they chose to share.  The project has been developed over the last 2 years, and is now playing as See Me Now in the YV Maria.

Imogen Brodie , Director of Taking Part, and Kirsten Adam, Two Boroughs & Directors Program Project Manager, talk about the process behind the project below.

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Peter and company in See Me Now –  Photography by Matt Humphrey

How did the concept for See Me Now come about?

Imogen Brodie (IB): The first thing was that we had been thinking about how to do a project alongside Measure for Measure which was in the Main House a couple of years ago. We did a project with Look Left Look Right at the Maudsley (Hospital), and it came about from conversations we’d had about wanting to make a show with sex workers. And the fact that the representation of sex workers in Measure for Measure, well it’s Shakespearean, so it’s really old and abusive, and quite comical.

Kirsten Adam (KA): And sex workers don’t have a voice in it at all. They’re an integral part of the story but they don’t have a voice, so it was an interesting way to flip that and give them a voice.

See Me Now and Now We Are Here have both been TP community/parallel shows that have been opened up to the public, Why do you think it’s important to share these stories?

IB: I think with both of those plays they’re very marginalised groups of people, that everybody feels they have knowledge of. Particularly with sex workers, and more recently with refugees, people think they know what the story is, but really the stories are much more broad, and rich, and individual.

KA: Sex workers are depicted a lot in fiction, in films and TV and things, but very seldom are those stories developed from real experience, or they’re developed from one experience. One thing we were really keen with for See Me Now in the first place was to go there is not one story, there is not one ‘this is what the life of a sex worker is’, but to look at the range of experiences and opinions.

IB: And also remembering people who are part of a group are just people. They happen to be a refugee or a sex worker but they’re just people with all of the same concerns as people who don’t fall into those categories. We wanted to show that as well, that is was about the humanity of people who happen to work in the sex industry. That we have all of the same life issues like paying bills and sorting out their tax.

KA: A lot of See Me Now is about work that’s actually not specific to sex work. It’s about what it’s like to earn a wage, and a lot of it’s about life. As we went through the process a lot of the stuff that was interesting and that we found most revealing, wasn’t about sex work, it was about people as human beings.

IB: I think we also found out that the group felt there were kind of two stories, it was either Happy Hooker or Trafficked Victim. And that the majority of them didn’t fall into either of those categories and wanted to say that there’s more to it than that. That actually it’s a profession that will be around forever and ever but that you can’t say you’re a sex worker as a valid life choice. That you still have to keep it hidden and a secret, we wanted to expose that.  Also the group are very keen to decriminalise, that’s the only unifying thought amongst them. Like any group they have lots of different opinions, but that one thing about safety and decriminalisation is really important to communicate as well.

How did you go about finding the participants for this kind of project?

KA: We worked with a lot of partner organisations such as SWISH and the Terrance Higgins Trust, Ugly Mugs, Praed Street Project, and we worked with a woman called Emily Elgar who had been an outreach worker at SWISH. So we did lots of work going to sexual health clinics, or support services. Meeting people in those places, so that we were coming to them rather than expecting them to come to us straight away. There was quite a lot of interviewing people in those places, especially the more vulnerable or street based sex workers, who are not living lives where they can come in and do a workshop every Saturday. Imogen went to an outreach service.

IB: It’s this really brilliant service called Open Doors and they particularly look after street sex workers. From 10 o’clock in the evening till 3 o’clock in the morning they drive the streets of Hackney, and they know everyone, so they stop at everyone who’s working and give out condoms, Kit Kats and tea – just things that will keep everyone going. That service has now been cut, the funding has been cut for it, and so has another amazing service called Praed  Street Project, their funding has been cut and also some of SWISH.  It’s one of the hidden things that have happened over the last couple of years, since the Tories have got their claws in, those services are disappearing really fast.

KA: There’s a lot of amalgamating those services with services for those who were trafficked or with alcohol and drug dependencies. And there is a lot of cross over but being a sex worker doesn’t mean you are a drug addict or trafficked. You can be a sex worker and still need the support that those services offered. But it’s just a way to balance the budget really rather than to do what’s best by the people.

IB: Emily was brilliant because she’d done that job herself of supporting people. She already had a level of trust in those services. So it meant that our way into that was based on good faith.

KA: We had quite a gentle beginning. The first thing we did was have a tea party for the people that might be interested, that was back in April 2015, that was a chance for them to meet us, Mimi and Molly and find out what it might be like. Because for anyone, this is not specific to sex workers, anyone who hasn’t worked in theatre before ‘come and do a workshop’ doesn’t mean anything.  What’s a workshop? So we did that and had nice baked goods and then we started the series of workshops.

IB: I don’t think we talked about sex work for about 3 months. Everyone knew that’s why we were together but the stuff we did was much more about getting to know each other, working out what people were interested in in terms of writing, performing or what things they wanted to share with the group. The first version of this show, when it was Brolly Project, had much less about sex work in it than See Me Now does because I think that was the last thing that came out. So all of those relationships were made before the sex work questions happened.

KA: I think a lot of the sex work stuff when it did come up was a lot of us just talking. We did an exercise about ‘What were health and safety instructions for your workplace?’. So that was about the sex industry being their workplace, but it wasn’t about going ‘So tell me about…’. We met someone early on who said the first thing people always asked her was how much she charged. And she said ‘Would you ever ask someone how much they earn the first time you meet them?’. It’s just so rude.  So I think we wanted to get know people and actually see what the show could be coming out of that. It could have been that the first version had nothing about sex work in it. If that’s what they’d wanted to say, that’s what we would have played.

You’d talked about trust and relationships, how did you build those?

IB: It’s about being interested in other people. Making sure that when they come here, the experience they have is comfortable and friendly. That you’ve got all the things that make you feel welcome: food and drink, and an atmosphere that feels like we’re all in one thing together. The breaking down of the hierarchy in that room was really important. Because one group of people in there have a certain experience and another group of people in there have a completely different one. Sharing experiences that we do have in common was really important; being children, being parents, being partners, being all of the things that are unifying. It was a very open space. We did a lot of work particularly with this group about anonymity and about us not sharing it outside the room. I think that made a big difference. I think we just got on very well, it was about it being fun and not asking people to relive trauma. Sometimes that happens, because that’s what people want to talk about but that wasn’t our driving force.

KA:  We did a lot of other stuff around the workshops. Going to see shows here, going to see shows other places, and just keeping people involved in what we were doing. Especially after the Brolly Project had been on, that was on in August 2015 so there’s quite a big gap between then and now. So we’ve all worked really hard to keep in touch.  That might be just having a cup of tea with people or chatting on the phone or walking the dog in Battersea Park.

IB: It’s about being aware if you want people to carry on working with you that you have a responsibility to them. We don’t feel like we’re giving anything to them, we’re in a dialogue and it’s a two way relationship. We’ve done loads of fun things together and I think that really builds a foundation. We went to Latitude together, to do a really early version of Brolly and we went to HighTide last year. It’s about the consistent friendship, which obviously has some boundaries but is very generous on both sides. I think because they’re naturally such a generous group of people it was really easy for us to do that. But certainly needed to be consistent; doing little gatherings, making sure that when they came to the theatre they were always invited together so that it was easy to keep in touch with each other.

KA: And we’ll continue you do that after the show as well. You have such a downer after a show finishes anyway, and I imagine a lot of them will just go back to whatever they were doing before, so you want to feel like it has a legacy rather than just going ‘Thanks guys, see you later’.

IB: Also we started the development for See Me Now really early on. We’ve been working workshops and development sessions since July last year, and since then we’ve met most Saturdays.

And is that a different process to other TP projects?

KA: Not really. Just over a longer period of time, because we’ve had the two incarnations.

IB: But the form and the structure’s the same. I think we really hit a rich vein of storytelling with this group of people. Because of the work they have done, they’re very open minded and good at socialising. They have to be good at making other people feel comfortable, that’s part of the job that they either have done or still do.

KA: And they’ve all been very naturally good performers, which is not that surprising really. When you think about working to make someone else feel comfortable, that’s kind of what they’re doing with an audience.

IB: So it has almost been an easier process.

Is there anything else you want to say about the project?

KA: It’s been really jokes.

IB: Really hilarious, full scale hilarious, the whole way through. So resilient and so fun. Super smart. Anyone who’s had to navigate the sort of experiences they have has to be proper savvy.  They’re all really interesting on a really deep level as people, so it’s just been fascinating and I feel really privileged to have worked on it. It’s been such an incredible experience and we’ve learnt so much about sex and sexuality.

KA: And the span of people’s sexuality. It does make you reassess your own prejudices  – about the clients I would say more than the workers. Even a lot of people who are very open minded about sex workers, still go ‘Oooh clients = bad’.  But actually, they’re so generous about their clients and honest – there are awful people but also people that they are building a relationship with.

IB: It’s shifted all that understanding and that’s what I hope it does for people who watch it. Shifts the understanding of sex, sexuality, relationships and people.

See Me Now  runs 11 Feb – 4 Mar in the Young Vic’s Maria. Tickets for this production are all sold out but you are welcome to join our returns queues from an hour before each performance. Find more information on See Me Now here

 

11 Questions with the cast of See Me Now – Ric London

I am a sex worker and comfortable with it. Some say this makes me an interesting person. Others are shocked by the number of friends and acquaintances that know what I do. Some even regard me as brave. I came to the UK longer than I want to remember, on my own, diving into the unknown. I had many jobs; most bad, some nasty, a few were OK, none well paid. I am good at most things men are not meant to do, my ability at it has given me more recognition than my intellect ever did, although I think the latter is better, and still want to be a rock star. All I aim is to achieve happiness because in the end that’s the only success that is worth such name.

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If you could only eat one ‘Penny Sweet’ for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I much prefer savoury.

What is one common misconception about the sex industry you would like to change?

That we are all forced into it and are disgusted by it.

What is one thing you would like people to know about sex work? 

That some of us enjoy it.

Is this your first time working in theatre? What’s it been like?

No, it has been great.

Descibe the See Me Now rehearsal room vibes in three words (or emojis).

Energy, synergy, fun.

What did you want to be growing up?

Film director or Rock star, and I still want to.

If days were 28 hours long, what would you do with the 4 extra hours?

I want to think I would write more, but probably I would waste them surfing the net or listening to nonsensical people.

What’s your favourite song and why?

‘Love me till I die’ (Prom night 1980). It’s the perfect piece of music. The lyrics are rubbish though. It’s groovy, uplifting and makes me feel good. Better than Prozac!

What’s your favourite play or movie you’ve ever seen?

Helsinki Napoli (an obscure German film from the 1908s). Law of Desire.

If you could have one supernatural power which would you choose and why?

Ruling other’s minds with mine.

Do you think you will want to continue being involved in theatre after this production?

Sure!!!

Ric London stars in See Me Now  which runs 11 Feb – 4 Mar in the Young Vic’s Maria. Tickets for this production are all sold out but you are welcome to join our returns queues from an hour before each performance. Find more information on See Me Now here

Just announced: A Midsummer Night’s Dream + See Me Now

We have just announced 2 exciting new shows for 2017! Joe Hill-Gibbins returns to the Young Vic with a dark production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream designed by Johannes Schütz. And See Me Now shares the true stories of sex workers – a collaboration between Young Vic, Look Left Look Right and HighTide.   

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (17 Feb – 1 Apr 2017) 

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Joe Hill-Gibbins returns to the Young Vic with a thrillingly nightmarish take on Shakespeare’s Dream.

The dark heart of Titania and Oberon’s domain is explored as Joe Hill-Gibbins returns to the Young Vic’s Main House stage with a bold new production. In a world of grotesque transformations and sexual provocation, repressed conflicts between young lovers and their parents are released. There’s no magic in this place – manipulation leads to complications and desire becomes dangerous.

Design and light for A Midsummer Night’s Dream is by Johannes Schütz, with costumes by Michaela Barth, sound by Paul Arditti, movement by Jenny Ogilvie and dramaturgy by Zoë Svendsen.

Joe Hill-Gibbins follows his Measure for Measure with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other credits at the Young Vic include: The Changeling (The Maria , Main House), The Glass MenagerieThe Beauty Queen of Leenane and A Respectable Wedding.  Joe was Genesis Fellow at the Young Vic between 2010 and 2012. Other theatre credits include: Little Revolution (Almeida); Edward II (National Theatre); The Village Bike (Royal Court); and The Girlfriend Experience (Young Vic and Royal Court / Drum Theatre Plymouth). His opera credits include Powder Her Face (ENO).

Internationally acclaimed set designer Johannes Schütz returns to the Young Vic theatre after Three Sisters in 2012. His other theatre credits include: The Merchant of Venice (Royal Shakespeare Theatre), Big and Small (Barbican); On the Chimborazo (Münich Kammerspiele); Mama and the Whore (Schauspielhaus Bochum); Katherine of Heilbronn, Summer Folk (Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus); Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, In the Greifswald Street (Deutsches Theater Berlin); Schiff Der Träume, Hysteria and Macbeth (Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus). Johannes also worked on numerous productions for the Salzburg Festival and Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe in Paris. His publications include: Stages 2000-2007 and Johannes Schütz: Models & Interviews 2002-2015. His opera credits include: Orpheus and Eurydice and Ariadne on Naxos, works by Brecht and Schiller in Bochum and Mainz.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare runs 17 February – 1 April 2017 in the Young Vic’s Main House. It is directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins with design and light by Johannes Schütz, costumes by Michaela Barth, sound by Paul Arditti, movement by Jenny Ogilvie and dramaturgy by Zoë Svendsen.

 

See Me Now (11 Feb – 4 Mar 2017) 

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Photo by Damien Frost 

A new Young Vic, Look Left Look Right and HighTide co-production, See Me Now is created and performed by those who have been, or currently are sex workers.

Based on workshops and testimony given by the performers, writer Molly Taylor weaves together a series of moving and funny true stories in a production directed by Mimi Poskitt.

Neither victims nor villains but everything in between, See Me Now challenges the stereotypes and stigma around sex workers and celebrates the group of male, female and transgender performers who share their stories on stage.

Director Mimi Poskitt said: “Sex workers are one of the most marginalised groups in the world. This project was born out of wanting to work with and understand more about who sex workers are. The industry is multi-faceted, often invisible, yet shrouded in controversy. Over the past year we have been fortunate enough to work with an awesome group of performers who have shared their own deeply personal histories. They are writers, teachers, musicians, cleaners, parents; they work in IT, in public services. By no means definitive, what they are creating reflects a kaleidoscope of life experiences; some touching, some tough, some hilarious.

A version of See Me Now was originally performed as part of The Brolly Project in August 2015, a Young Vic Taking Part project. The team worked closely with outreach projects across London to find a company of participants who have, or do work in the sex industry. The aim was to make an original performance created by the company, formed by whatever they chose to share. A reading of The Brolly Project took place in September as part of the 2016 HighTide Festival.

Molly Taylor is a writer and theatre-maker and an Associate of Look Left Look Right. Her other theatre credits include: The Neighbourhood Project (The Bush Theatre), What We Talk About When We Talk About Food (commissioned by the Wellcome Trust), My Desert Island (Old Vic New Voices) and Make We Waka (Lagos Theatre Festival/British Council). Molly developed her writing practice when on attachment at the National Theatre of Scotland; her one-woman play Love Letters to the Public Transport System had a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012 and has since been performed at the Royal Court and internationally.

Mimi Poskitt is the Founder and Artistic Director of Look Left Look Right. Her directing credits in theatre include work at the Royal Court, Roundhouse, Lyric Hammersmith, Covent Garden, Coney and the Old Vic New Voices. In addition, Mimi’s work has toured across the UK and worldwide including Sri Lanka, Australia and Nigeria. As an Assistant Producer for ITV and the BBC, she won a Royal Television Society Award for a documentary about 9/11 and was nominated for The Hospital Club’s h.Club 100, which recognises the most innovative and influential people in the British creative and media industries.

See Me Now created by Mimi Poskitt, Molly Taylor and the company and directed by Mimi Poskitt runs in the Young Vic’s Maria theatre 11 February – 4 March 2017. Sound is by Emma Laxton with music composed by Tom Parkinson.

Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday 28 September at 10am. You can become a friend and book today at www.youngvic.org