Interview: Katherine Nesbitt

Although most of the action appears to be going on in Edinburgh throughout August, there's still plenty to get your teeth stuck in to in London, one such example is Boom, now showing at Theatre 503 until the 26th August.

"Jules, a marine biologist, placed a personals ad offering “sex to change the course of the world”. Jo replied and has come to Jules’ lab expecting a hot night of no strings sex. But this is no casual encounter, it has evolutionary significance and the future of the human race hangs in the balance.
Will they survive? Will we survive? What’s with the fish tank? And who is the strange woman in the corner?"

Directed by the brilliant Katherine Nesbitt, we're sure this will be of interest to some of our readers at FemaleArts. Amie Taylor caught up with Katherine Nesbitt last week to find out more about this piece.

AT: What was your journey in to the arts and how did you become a director?

KN: I went to Glasgow uni and studied theatre, which was quite an academic course, but it gave me a good grounding in theory and covered quite a wide spread of things. I did a lot of student theatre, but even then knew that I wanted to do directing. When I graduated a friend of mine that was a playwright and a friend of mine who was a producer, the three of us decided to use each other’s resources and work together. We formed a company called Makeshift Broadcast, and I did that for a few years in Glasgow, making work at the Arches and the Forest Fringe, and learnt our craft doing that.

AT: You’ve recently directed Boom, which is currently plating at Theatre 503. Perhaps you can tell us what about in your own words…

KN: It opens with two people’s in their 20s, a guy and a girl, who appear to have come together for a date, and the guy Jules promises sex to change the course of the world. Jo has come along thinking she’s on a date, but she’s also writing an assignment for uni about having sex with people you’ve met online who are strangers, and what that experience is. And Jules has an anterior motive because he knows something that she doesn’t about the end of the world. So they’re both coming together with ulterior motives. And at the same time there’s a character called Barbara who’s at the side of the stage, and we don’t know why she’s there, but as the play goes on we learn more about her.

AT: How did you get involved with this product?

KN: The production company Announcement had looked for plays that had been produced a lot in other countries, and I think it was between 2007 and 2009 this was one of the most produced plays in The States. I have a bit of a relationship with 503 from having produced there, so 503 put us in touch, and I loved it and wanted to direct it.

AT: So obviously having been heavily produced in 2007-2009 it must have been very relevant for that time, what messages do you feel have been carried through to 2017 and why’s it still an important piece for now?

KN: It’s held up really well, I mean it’s only ten years which isn’t that long, but obviously technology moves very fast, and actually there are times when technology is mentioned and with it being slightly older it really works, because Jules is actually quite an old fashioned character. And the themes of the play are looking at how significant we as individuals are in a much bigger context of the world and the meaning of life - which are themes that are always relevant.

AT: And what audience do you think Boom appeals to?

KN: I think it has a really broad appeal. It’s really nice to be doing a comedy, and I think that will appeal to a lot of people. And the playwright, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, is also a biologist. So it might bring in an audience that’s not necessarily such a theatre going one.

AT: How has your rehearsal process been?

KN: Once we got in to rehearsals we realised what a physical play it was, and we’ve had two different fight directors who have really grasped the physical comedy, what the play’s about and how to serve those moments really well. And it’s the first time I’ve ever worked with a fight director - I’ve worked with one as an assistant director, but never as a director. So that’s been a really useful experience for me. And it’s a fantastic cast - they are such a joy to work with, there’s some great comic stuff happening with those guys.

AT: What’s next for you?

I run a festival at 503 called ‘View from Here’ which is regional new writing from across the UK, and our next event is in Northern Ireland which is where I’m from, and we have some really interesting work to programme.

Book now to see Boom at Theatre 503 (London):

Author's review: