On the day I met Violet for the interview about Eigengrau, the next studio production she is directing, she had just found out that she has got into Bristol Old Vic drama school and she was buzzing with excitement and battling with who she needed to share the news with first. I felt rather over-whelmed and emotional hearing her news and a strange feeling of pride, especially as it was the first time we had properly met, but I could tell how much the news meant to Violet, as it does with many of her peers in Big Spirit who work so hard to get the places in colleges and universities they so richly deserve.
However, we soon settle into talking about her current venture and directorial debut; Eigengrau. I start by asking Violet to tell me about the play as the title doesn’t give much away to a prospective audience member. Violet herself doesn’t giving too much away either as she tells me that the play is quite difficult to explain as it contains so many unexpected elements, but basically it’s about four people in their mid twenties, living in London, it challenges some modern feminist ideals, touches on sexual assault and grief, but overall and despite all those themes it is a very witty and fiery play and written in a very fresh and modern way.
Violet specifically chose this play as it doesn’t have a regular linear story line, with audiences expected to feel a certain way by the end. It’s much more a piece of theatre that audiences will watch and spark conversation, with them asking each other “What did you think about just happened?” and trigger debate about the rights and wrongs of the characters and their actions. Violet tells me that the debate is just as lively in the rehearsal room, with the cast often breaking off from blocking scenes to talk about the confrontation that’s happening, the subjects that are being covered, or the things that are being done by the characters. Specifically, the cast have spoken about the toxic parts of some media outlets infiltrating the lives of everyday people and the impact that has on them. The perceptions coming from the media on how people, specifically women should look, behave and act in society.
The plays tackles a few difficult subject matters and this has often been challenging in the rehearsal room, but Violet seems to have a few tricks up her sleeve to put her cast at rest, help them bond and to break down the social barriers – one of these is getting the cast to brush each others teeth, yes that’s right, she got them to brush each others teeth – see the pictures if you don’t believe me! Violet tells me this has been a great way for the cast to get to know each other and break down the boundaries as there are a few intimate scenes and some of the cast didn’t know each other.
As a new director Violet says that she has learnt a huge amount while directing this show and seen many things that she didn’t know happened from when she was just an actor in one of the productions. She’s heavily involved in many of the production aspects and amazingly things like the set don’t just appear the week before opening night, but she heartily sings the praises of Richard Wright, her stage manager, who sounds like he is her knight in shining armour bringing many aspects of props and set together and helping get everything ready for curtain up! Also Violet has had to adapt her directing style as she is used to working with children in the foundation group, Ensemble, but working with adults is very different and you have to be able to flex depending on who you are working with.
Finally, I asked Violet what she would say to convince someone to come a see the play… “It’s probably nothing like anything you’ve seen before, it has a super-talented cast and you will definitely go away with something to think about”
Eigengrau opens on Tuesday 14th June – with free drinks and runs to Saturday 18th June
Eigengrau/ [ay-gen-gr-ow]/ noun. Intrinsic light; the colour seen by the eye in perfect darkness.
Feminist activist Cassie is engaged in a fervent struggle against patriarchal oppression. Her new flatmate Rose believes in true love and leprechauns. Across London, Mark believes in the power of marketing. His flatmate Tim Muffin is engaged in a fervent struggle just to get out of bed. Mark goes home with Rose and meets Cassie.
When circumstance throws them together, all four have their beliefs tested to devastating effect in a biting black comedy about trying to connect in a city where Gumtree can sometimes feel like your closest friend.