INTERVIEW WITH PLACE TO BE: THE GYM WRITER FREYA HANNAN MILLS
Hey Freya, first of all, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m from the Wirral, which is a Ferry across the Mersey from Liverpool. Liverpool has this wonderful openness, if you sit in one place more than five minutes you will know everyone’s life story – it’s as if there’s a compulsion to tell stories and make connections.
What was the first thing you ever wrote?
I remember writing a short story about Lady Jane and my English teacher at school being really disparaging about it, saying it was “too flowery” and being cross that I hadn’t use her plan – I was really thrown and when a teacher is very negative it can affect you entire confidence – Fortunately shortly after that the same story won a National competition and Daunt Books published it. My Mum, who was a Lecturer in English, then decided to home educate me. Being home educated for two years gave me the space and time to really develop my writing without the constraints of a school curriculum.
What was your experience at The Gym and your inspiration for your play ‘Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine’?
I joined a gym on the Wirral- it is a ladies only gym and does a lot of yoga and pilates and chair based exercise, it is not trying to compete with the sparkling new gyms that have just popped up and maybe because it is all women everyone seems to talk very openly. I listened to some amazing stories. My inspiration for Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine came from my Mum’s friend Sue who first took me to the Gym. At the time my Nana was terminally ill and Sue used to collect me to do a ‘bounce’ class together. Sue is a carer and we talked about grief and how it can hold people in a vice grip until you are ready to release it.
How are you feeling about having your work performed at VAULT Festival?
I am really intrigued by the concept and how the pieces will blend together especially as we have all started from the same point – for me its been a very satisfying process and I am so looking forward to seeing the work.
What’s the best piece of theatre you’ve ever seen?
I was very lucky to watch Andrew Scott in Hamlet last year. I thought it was an incredible production, a piece which really examines grief and Andrew Scott gave us this pent up, edgy version of Hamlet being pushed to move on and just not being ready – it was when I first began thinking about how death affects people.
Who are the people you look up to in theatre? Whose work do you admire?
I worked as an actress with Kirsty Housley from Complicite on a devised piece called Seen and Not Heard. She is a Director I really admire, she calmly teases out stories and then masterfully weaves them into really moving and meaningful works which sort of live with you for a long time after. I was also fortunate to have Sean Holmes direct Jude Law in the piece I wrote for the Lyric Hammersmith Gala – Sean has this incredible energy and charisma that makes you kind of tingle, it is as if absolutely anything could happen in that rehearsal.
The actors I most admire are Denise Gough and Patsy Ferran and of course Andrew Scott, I think they all share this ‘edge of the seat’ unpredictability and I just find them all compelling to watch. Simon Stevens mentored me and that was incredible, he pushes you hard but he also has this energy and enthusiasm and it makes you believe you can do anything.
THE SLEEPER HAS BEEN SELECTED FOR THE BRIGHTON FRINGE ARTS INDUSTRY WINDOW!
As Brighton Fringe put it on their site:
WINDOW is Brighton Fringe’s Arts Industry showcase created to develop and encourage artists ready for the next step in their career. It is a platform for high quality, ready to tour, new work to be highlighted during the first days of Brighton Fringe, from 4 – 10 May 2018.
With the buzz of activity in one of the UK’s most popular cities, both established and emerging artists have the perfect opportunity to showcase their work whilst also developing their professional networks.
WINDOW is marketed to visiting Arts Industry Professionals, through the Arts Industry Service at Brighton Fringe. The visiting AIPs come from diverse backgrounds, but include: Venue Programmers, Festival Programmers, Development Agencies, Talent Agents, Freelance Producers and Directors, Casting Agents and Film & TV producers.
The 2018 WINDOW selection is:
- Me & My Bee, ThisEgg
- Ensonglopedia of Animals, John Hinton
- Land of the Three Towers: Vol II, You Should See The Other Guy
- Luke Rollason’s Planet Earth, Bright Buoy Productions
- The Sleeper, Anima Theatre Company
- Form, Rendered Retina
- S/he/it Happens, Purple Theatre
- Gender Euphoria, James Lorien Macdonald
- Fast, Digital Drama
- Witt ‘n Camp: SWAG, Witt ‘n Camp
PLACE TO BE IS HEADING TO VAULT FESTIVAL!
LAUNCHING IN OCTOBER AT THE ROSEMARY BRANCH THEATRE
THE REVIEWS ARE IN! AND IT”S 4 STAAAARS!
Edinburgh Festival Fringe: A very British girl in her pyjamas is making a complaint on the night train, deep in the dark, somewhere in Europe. Karina, played by Michelle Fahrenheim, has been spooked by a pair of eyes in her couchette bunk; she demands it be dealt with, though what she’s sneakily hoping for is actually an upgrade to first class.
The perfectly European train guard, George, with a flawless manner and accent delivered by Joshua Jacob, asks her if she really wants him to intervene. Jacob perfectly conveys the character of the official whose eyes have seen more, know more, than he tells; he’s been here before, on the “train of second chance”.
He warns her repeatedly that if she persists, if she can’t handle the problem herself, “we have to follow the procedure”. Karina wants to find the whole thing hilarious; only slowly does she open her eyes to what she’s done. This three-hander in the tiniest space at the top of Jury’s Inn is an exceptional piece of theatre-making, and a powerful, understated examination of the moral choices amid Europe’s refugee crisis.
The performances, including Aya Daghem as the silently beseechful, proudly disdainful Amena, are subtle and skilled, as is the stage choreography, as the drama evolves on a repeating loop. The play is written and directed by Henry C Krempels – a journalist who brings his own considerable reporting to bear on the piece.
WE’RE HEADING TO EDINBURGH!
THE TRAIN OF SECOND CHANCE
Communication Workshop with Anima Theatre Company and Arcola LAB
Set on an overnight train somewhere in Europe, The Sleeper, will be a singular exploration of prejudice, language and identity. Weaving together a mix of real-life testimony from Syrian refugees, fiction and personal experience, Henry C. Krempels draws from his unusual story, The Immigration Train, commissioned by Vice Magazine in the summer of 2015, at the height of the immigration crisis.
The Sleeper describes a situation familiar to thousands of refugees over the past few years who have become stuck somewhere between leaving home and starting a new life. The play follows Karina, a British traveller, innocently reports a woman sleeping in her bed on the overnight train. Drawn together by this simple action, the group become enveloped in the tension that exists between absolute strangers, where the less they reveal about themselves the less obvious their differences will become.
Anima Theatre Company is a group of European writers, directors and actors focused on experimental theatre and new writing. As a company, we are interested in inclusive theatre, giving voice to those who struggle to be heard and always attempting to bring people to theatre who may never otherwise come into contact with it. Our aim is to promote collaboration, conversation and connectedness.
If you think you might be interested, would like to know more, or you know people who might be interested we’d love to hear from them. Email us at email@example.com. The project is free and we’ll pay travel costs for those based in London. We are hoping to do this in the next month so do let us know as soon as possible if you wish to be involved.