Interview with Goblin Baby & Co. On 'Foreseen': Camden Fringe 2014


An interview with the producer, writers and one of the directors of FORESEEN
(Goblin Baby Theatre Co. at the Camden Fringe)
Victorine Pontillon (director of The Appointment & Processed)
Claire Booker (writer of One of our Robots is Missing)
Tilly Lunken (writer of Processed)
Amy Bethan Evans (writer of Lucy and the Beasts)
Tessa Hart (writer of The Appointment & producer)

'Foreseen' is a collection of post-apocalyptic short plays. Intriguing! What, do you think, it is about Endism (exploring the apocalypse) that has audiences & creatives currently captivated?

Tessa: For me it’s not so much about the end of the world or the end of human life in a negative way, but the stories are about the end of the world as we know it. FORESEEN imagines scenarios of what our current world could lead to if everything changed but humans kept surviving. I think it’s that survival that’s captivating and how people cope and adapt or don’t cope and adapt to these new worlds.

Claire: Endism is really only ever about the present - the faults and strengths we see in ourselves now, extrapolated into the future. Writing a post-apocalyptic play is like setting up a virtual experiment in your own head to see how we pan out.

Tilly: The politics of people and where they live, where they end up and where they can go is already so toxic it can only get worse. Refugees come from everywhere but cannot go everywhere and our world has these places where people can go to be 'processed' but if there isn't anything else (a joy, a dream, a future) what do you have?

For the Writers; what inspired you to write your piece?

Claire: I was inspired to write 'One of Our Robots is Missing' after hearing an item on radio about how some elderly Japanese parents have hired actors to visit them and play the role of being their children. It struck me that loneliness might be one of the worst aspects of being one of the 'saved' after a nuclear holocaust. That got me thinking about the practicalities of a bunker - what it might be like to spend years under ground; the monotony, the terrible food, guilt about the dead. Plus how there might be different grades of bunker - including ones manned by robots. In the play, I also tip my hat at Orwell's Animal Farm. Robots appear to be taking over the devastated world, while human survivors remain stuck in their bunkers. Will robots create a more equal world, or will they simply repeat human mistakes?

Tessa: I got inspired after reading about how China’s one child policy led to areas where there is now a massive shortage of women as male children were traditionally considered more valuable. Whilst my play is not about China or this specific policy, ‘The Appointment’ explores the idea of a world where this has developed into an extreme and women have almost become extinct.

Amy: To be honest, I found this quite a difficult brief as endism isn't something that immediately inspires me. I'm much more of a naturalistic writer. However, other people's opinions on the end of the world intrigue me, particularly ideas of good and evil that as humans we can't possibly know the answer to. However it’s still important to have ideas of good and evil or we would never have anything to act on. My nemesis has been getting this idea into 10 minutes. We'll have to see if I pull it off!

Tilly: I’m interested in how the “issues” we have today will manifest in the future. The numbers of refugees that we will have to process will only increase as our climate changes and the rhetoric that surrounds these people now is already troubling. I wanted to write something that engages with the present but in a futuristic context. I think all of the plays address contemporary things through their post-apocalyptic lens.

For the Director; what challenges have you faced in realising your creative visions?

Victorine: The greatest challenge has been working with such a limited time-frame. It was a great fear of mine that we wouldn't be able to really delve into the plays, and make something very detailed and specific, but the first rehearsal with the actors was very reassuring as they're very quick, creative, and playful.

What makes these short plays unique?

Amy: I would never go as far as to call any of my plays unique. Plays are only as unique as the ideas of the people writing them and these ultimately boil down to our often quite similar educations and upbringings. I don't feel disappointed when comparing my work to other work. I take the positives in the work to which it's similar and try to build on it. It's often quite reassuring to find out that someone has slightly similar ideas to you as it means people might like them. Having said that, I haven't seen anything similar enough to my piece to reassure me yet. If anyone finds anything please send it my way.

Victorine: Each play has a different voice, and a different vision of the World post-apocalypse, and I think that when you put them side by side, they somehow all fit, or perhaps echo each other. It's that dissimilarity and cohesiveness that makes them stand out to me.

Do you think these plays are feminist? If so, why?

Amy: I don't think my play is particularly feminist other than it uses 2 female actors as opposed to one male actor. It's not intended to fall down on any political side especially, rather it emphasises the importance of having a side in the first place. Obviously people are free to see it as whatever they wish though. I'm sure there could be a feminist reading of it and I wouldn't be averse to hearing one.

Claire: For a change, I don't consider I've written a feminist play - it's a humanist play, perhaps. About how easy it is for ego and self interest to exploit more vulnerable members of the community. Oh, perhaps it is a feminist play then!

Tessa: Well my play is about a world where women seem to have become almost extinct, so I guess there are certainly feminist ideas in there. It’s all rather tongue-in-cheek than being too serious about it though and there are also a lot of other themes... I think I’d also rather have people see what they want to see in it instead if me imposing something.

Victorine: I don't believe they are feminist, no. There are some feminist themes that underscore some moments, but I feel that each playwright has given us a World to ponder on, not ten minutes of preaching or ideas.

What do you hope the audience will gain from the 'Foreseen' experience?

Tilly: I think audiences can connect with how stories can change in meaning how they can offer things to different people – comfort, hope, connection. We might not understand how people must leave their homes with nothing have to travel long distances, but we can feel the loss of the journey and the relief of a ‘happy ending’.

Amy: I hope the audience will have thought-provoking fun. It's a difficult balance and I hope we strike it.
Victorine: I hope they'll have a fun and entertaining evening that will keep them thinking for a while.

Proudest and/or most defining moments during the process so far...?

Amy: I am quite proud of myself in the sense that I have completely re-written this script based on feedback more times than I have ever written anything. And by that, I don't mean a made tweaks. I have completely re-written it about five times. I'm very sorry to the people I kept giving it to, but very proud of myself for being so ruthless with my own work.

Victorine: The first time the actors ran a play on their feet, and I realized we were going to do some amazing work together.

Finally... What's next?

Tessa: We’d love to take FORESEEN to further venues or fringe festivals. But next up for now we’ve got an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s One-Act-Farce ‘The Proposal’ as a same-sex prenuptial comedy from 7th to 11th October at The Hen & Chickens again!

(C) Goblin Baby Co. 2014.

Show information:

FORESEEN – It’s the end of the world as we know it!!!

Four dark, comic & thought-provoking new short plays, imagining possible post-apocalyptic futures, based on our current world.

Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th August 2014 at The Hen & Chickens Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe

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