Actors Centre Members go solo for the TBT's FIRST Festival
From 31st March - 16th April, the Tristan Bates Theatre presents its acclaimed annual FIRST Festival of Solo Performances. With a hugely varied programme, we thought we'd take a minute to spotlight some of the shows featured by Actors Centre Members.
We spoke to writer-performers and AC members Elisa King (BIRD WITH A TALE, Sun 3 April); Libby Liburd (MUVVAHOOD, Mon 11 April); and Ulrika Krishnamurti (ECHOES WITHIN WALLS, Sat 9 April) about their shows, and what it's like performing all on their own.
What can you tell us about your show?
Elisa King, BIRD WITH A TALE: It's essentially me wondering why I'm a feminist when some of my closest friends aren't. We're using devised theatre to piece together memories and true stories of sexism, some funny and some horrendous. I play my own parents, my ex-boyfriends and friends - that's rather weird for me! There’s research in there, and puppets and balloons too.
Ulrika Krishnamurti, ECHOES WITHIN WALLS: The show was written Sahar Beg and is based on a true story about an unwilling bride - sent to a foreign country and trapped at home, learning to survive in the midst of unspeakable cruelty.
Libby Liburd, MUVVAHOOD: It's a one woman, verbatim piece, exploring single motherhood in London today. I've conducted many hours of interviews with single mothers, researched key issues and included my own experiences. It also pokes fun at single mother stereotypes too - it's not all doom and gloom and struggle and strife!
What do you find exciting or terrifying about presenting a solo performance?
Libby Liburd, MUVVAHOOD: Creating a solo show is a real labour of love and a huge investment, and with that comes an increased vulnerability. I'm standing up there, saying yes, I am a single mum, this is my story too. I decided some time ago that MUVVAHOOD had to be a solo show; it's symbolic of the experience of raising a child alone.
Elisa King, BIRD WITH A TALE: It's terrifying because no one is going to rescue you on stage! And it's my first time. I also find it's harder to pace myself, there’s no one there to serve as an anchor.
Ulrika Krishnamurti, ECHOES WITHIN WALLS: What I've found most exciting is how much of a collaborative experience it's been with the writer and director. It's very much like devising from scratch, except that in this case we have the text to base our work on.
How has the process of making the show differed from creating an ensemble piece?
Elisa King, BIRD WITH A TALE: I think the main difference is that it’s a challenge for the characters to be genuinely affected by what’s going on. I don’t want to create a character who is 100% in control; but there’s no time to sit back while you let another actor’s great acting affect you.
Libby Liburd, MUVVAHOOD: It's difficult working without other actors. I miss the camaraderie, the opportunity to bounce off another person, so I've been incredibly lucky to work with an amazing director, Julie Addy. She's just fabulous and I've needed that outside eye to say 'no that bit's not working' or whatever. Particularly on the really autobiographical bits – just because it's real, it doesn't make it interesting! Julie's been really involved and instrumental with the development of MUVVAHOOD. Though it's a solo show, it still feels like a team effort.
Ulrika Krishnamurti, ECHOES WITHIN WALLS: There's a much greater need to meaningfully interact with 'things' in the space that aren't other actors (because it's a solo show!). I'm enjoying the process of doing that... there's a simplicity and complexity in it that's very different from working on an ensemble piece.
For more information and to book tickets for FIRST, check out the programme launch and download the brochure here; or browse the full line-up online here. Remember Actors Centre members get concession price tickets for all shows at the Tristan Bates Theatre.