Closing ourÂ Spring 2017 Season, new playÂ Why Not Us? arrives at the Space from 18th April. We caught up with Rebekah Harvey and Sandy Murray, co-creators and co-stars, to tell us a bit about the show…
First, can you begin by just telling us a bit about Why Not Us? What would you like us to know?
Why Not Us? is a multidisciplinary piece of theatre at gender equality from the perspective of both men and women.Â It was created out of 9 months of research and development and looks at some of the issues that we found were most affecting men and women living and working in London; work, relationships and the media.
What are some of the main things you want audiences to take away from Why Not Us?
Sandy: I think it’s really important that people realise that is isn’t about striving to be on top, or pushing others down. What’s important is that we give ourselves permission to be ourselves and just talk to one another. Talk and listen. Because without that it’s not an ‘us’.
Rebekah: Yeah we seem to be in the middle of a feminist war and a masculinity crisis. The play is not about fuelling the conflict, but encouraging understanding and empathy towards one another.
Rebekah and Sandy, this is a show about gender equality and that began with a collaborative writing process. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Rebekah: We really wanted to make sure that this play had a male and a female perspective, so having a collaborative writing process between a man and women was important. It was interesting because we didnâ€™t always agree and that just became part of the debate that we explore.
Sandy: Yeah, several bits were scrutinised a lot because one or other of us felt attacked or unfairly spoken against. It allowed us to more deeply think about why these issues are issues in the first place, and why they persist even when we know they are there. It stopped the play from being one sided and allowed us a more balanced view.
Looking at the creative team, there is a composer, graphic designer, and visual artists listed. How do all of these elements fit together within the context of the play?
Rebekah: We have a conventional narrative but we incorporate music, visuals and movement. For example, there might be a monologue with visuals happening simultaneously or moments where we take the audience into fantasy worlds.
Sandy: The music does a really important job in reflecting different moments in the journey of the piece, and the movement tries to build on that too. At key moments in the play it’s nice to stop, pause and reflect and , for us as a company ,exploring how this manifests itself in us physically can drum up a lot too.
What has been your favourite part of working on Why Not Us?
Sandy: It’s so easy to go day by day ignoring really important issues just because they are what they are. To actively think about these things, and face up to things you haven’t admitted about yourself can be incredibly cathartic.
Rebekah: I thought that my favourite part would be empowering women, and that has been amazing, but I have surprised myself with how much I have enjoyed releasing and empowering men. Allowing vulnerability throughout the creative process has been incredible.
Which theatre artists (current or past!) are you most inspired by?
Sandy: For me, Kneehigh’s storytelling is amazing. Always loved watching their stuff. And the way Frantic Assembly create powerful pieces using a true combination of physical theatre and text.
Rebekah: So many! Simon Stephens is doing some great work at the moment as a playwright and, as clichĂ© as it may be, I wouldnâ€™t be the actor I am today without good old Meisner.
Whatâ€™s next for you?
Sandy: For me, a new play I’m looking forward to exploring called Sleep. It stars me, a pillow, a duvet, and it lasts at least 8 hours! I cannot wait to get started.
Rebekah: I struggle with this concept of sleep. I want to take the play to new places and create some new and exciting work. Maybe a film next time! This is where Sandy and I differ. Come to think of it, I think Sandy once participated in a writing session whilst still under his duvetâ€¦
Visit the team’sÂ website atÂ www.whynotusproject.com
Book tickets for Why Not Us?