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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Governess Elizabeth 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.

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

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

 

Go Between | Taking Part

Go Between was a Taking Part community show inspired by Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope. The beautiful collaboration between director Anna Girvan, writer Archie Maddocks and participants who are currently homeless or have experienced homelessness in the past explored what home means to all of us.

The show was inspired by the 30 members of the “creative, passionate, witty and optimistic” company and their own experiences, drawn together through workshops and sessions over 4 months, since September 2016.

Go Between also featured a photography exhibition by Jordan Lee, a photographer who spent 3 months with the company documenting the process from devising and rehearsals to the full production. The stunning exhibition was open to all at Platform Southwark and was visited by audiences and participants alike.

Anna said, “We hope that this production will give an insight to how we are all just people, people who want to love, live, experience life, shout, stomp, sit in silence, be challenged and listened to, respected and deserve that basic human right; a home.”

YV’s arms are open – we are a Theatre of Sanctuary

The Young Vic is proud to be a Theatre of Sanctuary. Our doors are always open to refugees.

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In 2016 we at the YV extended our commitment to raising awareness of the plight of refugees with our Horizons season which will continue this year with Taha in July and The Suppliant Women in November.

Also last year we became the first London Theatre of Sanctuary, as awarded by City of Sanctuary.

David Lan, our Artistic Director, said of Horizons: “We are responding to the world as it is now. People in distress need help and they need to be heard. We want to provide a powerful means for audiences at home and abroad to connect with the political, social and human realities refugees face.”

We hope that being a Theatre of Sanctuary will help us to encourage more of our new neighbours to visit our theatre, making the Young Vic an important part of their new home.

In order to become a Theatre of Sanctuary, the Young Vic had to show written evidence of three key principles: that as a company we had enhanced our knowledge of asylum issues,  that we had embedded a culture of welcome into our professional community and that we had shared our learning with others.

City of Sanctuary is a movement committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for refugees seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. Their motto is: “Wherever refugees go, we want them to feel safe and find people who will welcome them.” – an important philosophy in these times.

Find out more about City of Sanctuary and how you can help here.

11 Questions with the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Michael Gould

You may remember Michael Gould from our recent smash-hit “superbly acted” 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟(Metro) A View from the Bridge. Now he’s back playing Theseus/Oberon in Joe Hill Gibbins’ dark and nightmarish take on Shakespeare’s tale of betrayal and desire, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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Michael Gould with Mark Strong and the rest of the A View from the Bridge company at the YV in 2014

Describe your character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in three emojis?

🗣 ⚡️ 💩

What’s it been like working with Joe Hill-Gibbins?

Fascinating and terrifying!

Which Dream character would you pick as your Valentine ❤ and why? 

I would pick Cupid, just to get his take on the whole Valentine thing, I know it is a busy day for him but it would be great to chat.

What was it that first got you interested in the theatre?

Believe it or not, a Young Vic production of Troilus and Cressida in 1975 (or so). I didn’t understand everything but the staging and the words were thrilling!

What is your favourite play (seen, read or worked on)?

A View From the Bridge at The Young Vic.

You’re hosting a dinner party. Who are your 3 dream guests? 

I would like to invite three characters I have played and find out how the show was for them, did we miss anything, did they feel represented properly etc, did they have any opinions about our interpretation, questions they wanted to ask, did other actors get closer to their truth… – so Alfieri, Iago and, why not, Theseus/Oberon (I know that is four really or is it…?)

There’s a common conception that hearing about other people’s dreams are boring. Tell us about your least-boring dream. 😴 zzzz

Don’t be sad, it is a long time ago but my Dad died on Christmas day. That night I dreamt he hitched a ride in Santa’s sleigh, asking to be dropped off at a resting place in the sky!

If you hadn’t become an actor, what job would you be doing now?

Teaching has always appealed. I have done a bit and I always enjoy it.

Who is your ultimate hero and why?

I am not really a hero kind of person. I think we are a little bit too obsessed by individual glory. I admire great teams, so the 2016 Hockey team I would say are my heroes (currently) and, of course, the glorious ensemble company that is the A Midsummer Night’s Dream Team.

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

Very happy to be able to inhabit Oberon’s Invisibility at the moment, I hear some great gossip and I can influence events in a truly intriguing way.

What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

On this show probably having a wee as we are going to be on stage throughout. I did the same on A View From The Bridge and I should probably list “bladder control” as a special skill on my CV.

Young Vic Directors Program

The Young Vic Directors Program has been running for over ten years, offering emerging directors a unique opportunity to exchange experiences with peers and be part of a network of talented directors, theatre-makers and designers working and living in the UK.

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Intro to Directing session. Photo by Helen Murray.

As the only scheme of its kind, the Directors Program provides proactive support for professional directors at the early stages of their career, offering a range of opportunities to help directors develop their craft. These opportunities and activities include skills workshops and projects, including paid assistant directing roles through the Jerwood Assistant Director Program and Boris Karloff Trainee Assistant Director Program on Young Vic productions, and our online network, the Genesis Directors Network.

There are also two opportunities, supported by the Genesis Foundation, aimed at developing directors at different points of their careers. The Genesis Future Directors Award enables us to identify, support and nurture a director to explore their craft and stage a production in the Young Vic’s Clare Theatre. The Genesis Fellow is a two year role at the Young Vic where they work alongside YV artistic director, David Lan.

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The Young Vic’s Genesis Fellow, Gbolahan Obisesan, leading Intro to Directing.

In the last two years the Directors Program has expanded its activities with Reach Out, to ensure directors based outside of London across England and Wales have the chance to access the same opportunities.

Past directors who have been part of the Directors Program include; Rufus Norris, Carrie Cracknell, Natalie Abrahami, Joe Hill-Gibbins, Matthew Xia, Gbolahan Obisesan and Tinuke Craig. Current directors include Ola Ince and Bryony Shanahan.

You can hear more about some of these directors’ experience and how the Directors Program has developed their careers on our Off Book podcast, available on Soundcloud and iTunes.

Directors and Designers can join the Genesis Directors Network by signing up online.

11 Questions with the cast of Once in a Lifetime – Amanda Lawrence

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Amanda Lawrence in Once in a Lifetime. Photography by Johan Persson.

The “hilarious” (★★★★ – Metro) Amanda Lawerence “plays a stormer as a crazy receptionist” (Daily Mail) in Richard Jones’ classic Broadway comedy set in 1930s Hollywood.

She joins us in the hot seat for today’s 11 Questions…

Can you describe your character in Once in a Lifetime in three words?

Forgetful, loyal…

What’s it been like working with Richard Jones?

A joy. The rehearsal space is driven and happy.

If you could be in a room full of any one thing, what would it be?

Trees.

What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

A poo.

What is your favourite play (seen, read or worked on)?

Constantly changes!

What is your favourite midnight snack?

Nothing. I love sleeping.

What was it that first got you interested in the theatre?

A TIE company coming to my comprehensive school when I was 11.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Think I’d love Norway – I have to go.

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

Sleep.

If you could have been born in any era, which would it be and why?

The Stone Age.

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

To fly, of course!

Catch Amanda and the rest of the cast in Once in a Lifetime until 14 Jan 2017. Book now: youngvic.org/whats-on/once-in-a-lifetime.