The National Youth Theatre (NYT) Rep Company Was Born A Decade Ago Thanks To The Initiative of The NYT CEO & Artistic Director Paul Roseby OBE. And To Mark The Ocassion It Is Staging Four Celebratory Productions And ‘Much A Do About Nothing’ Is One of Them.
There Was Much To Love On London’s Duke of York Stage (Thirty Years After Hollywood’s Denzel & Keanu Rode Into Town As Two Very Different Shakespearean Brothers With Two Very Different Missions)!
Formed In 2012, For The Last Decade The National Youth Theatre Rep. Co. Has Provided An Alternative Pathway To The World of Acting For Those Who Would Otherwise Be Unable To Afford It. As A Result, Audiences Exceeding 100.000 Have Had The Phesbian Pleasure of 30 Subsequent Creative Productions Over Half of Which Have Been In The West End. All Were Funded With The Help of Bursaries Totalling Over A Million Pounds. Such Is The Free Arts Assistance Provided To Would-Be Actors, Producers, Directors And Theatre Technicians.
Last October This TheatreArt Organisation Announced It Will Stage Three New Productions As Part of Its Ten Year Anniversary Celebrations. These Are:
Gone Too Far! Written By Bola Agbaje & Directed By Monique Touko (Theatre Royal Stratford) www.nyt.org.uk/gonetoofar (March 24 – April 1 2023)
Bakkhai Written By Anne Carson & Directed By Maisie Newman (NYT’s Workshop Theatre) www.nyt.org.uk/bakkhai (May 2-6 2023)
Much Ado About Nothing Written By William Shakespeare ‘Remixed’ By Debris Stevenson & Directed By Josie Daxter (Duke of York Theatre) www.nyt.org.uk/muchado (Feb 7 – 10 2023).
This Latter Performance Begins Tuesday February 7 2023 With Tickets Available From www.nyt.org.uk/whats-on For Its Very Short But Very Impactful Run of Just Seven Performances Over Just Four Days.
Paul Roseby (www.paulroseby.co.uk) Artistic Director & CEO of The NYT Who Started The REP. Co. 10 Years Ago Says It Is Necessary Now More Than Ever Given The Cost of Living Crisis And The Reduction of Art Classes In Schools. In Light of This The Organisation Makes A Point of Providing Affordable Theatre Tickets. For Instance For This Production There Are Over 1000 Tickets Available Priced Just £10.00 Each @nationalyouththeatre
The Rep Co. Is The Little Sibling To The Main Theatrical Establishment, The NYT, Which Was Established In 1956. Helen Mirren (@helenmirren) Is Among Its Alumni. Just As The Director of The Pending Remix of Much Ado About Nothing, Josie Daxter, Is An Alumni Too (www.josiedaxter.com)
Tuesday February 7 Evening Performance Only. From 7.30 pm
Much Ado About Nothing
- No Matinee Tuesday Feb 7th 2023
- Wed 08 February 2023 02:00PM
- Wed 08 February 2023 07:30PM
- Thu 09 February 2023 02:00PM
- Thu 09 February 2023 07:30PM
- Fri 10 February 2023 07:30PM
- Fri 10 February 2023 02:00PM
Happily We Were Invited To Speak With Maverick Maestro Stevenson In Between Rehearsals For Her New Production of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Honoured & Interested We Found Out How She Overcame Her Dyslexia And Dealt With Shakespeare. Subsequently We Believe The Mneumonic Learning Model Needs To Be Considered Nationally As Part of The Education System
TheOrator.Press (TO.P): So How Did You Get Into Acting?
DS: “Acting Is Something That Came Later. I’ve Always Been Performing In A Community That Did Not Necessarily Have Routes To Training. So I Didn’t Necessarily See It As Acting. I Was Just Doing One of The Art Forms Most Immediately Around Me As A Dyslexic Person Who Struggled A Lot With The Page. And It Was A Style of Writing That Came From The Body. It Came From Those Memorising Techniques And Just Made A lot of Sense. So I Started Off As A Rapper, That Led Into Poetry, I Was Then Working Within The Education System For Quite A Long Time. Then Went Into Theatre Using Rap. Then Went Into Television. And More Recently Have Gone Into Acting In A More Straight Sense.”
“I Often Have Mixed Feelings That Maybe If I Had Grown Up Somewhere Different I Would Have Had Acting Training When I Was Younger.”
Yet, On The Other Hand She Also Says:
“I Played Mary Twice In The Nativity, As A Kid. I Once Played Jesus. And I Played Joseph. All The Protagonists. I’ve Done A Version of The Easter Story. I Was Always Very Involved In Anything Drama Related. There Just Wasn’t Necessarily The Routes To Industry. I Think Only Now I’m Older I Recognise That I Didn’t Realize How Much of A Disadvantage I Was In, Now Looking Back. But I My Identity As An Artist Is Through All The Different Things That I’ve Done.”
TO.P: You’ve Spent A lot of Time In Education So Can You Explain How That Came To Be Bearing In Mind You Struggled With What You Call ‘The Page’ And You Mentioned You Had A Very Recent Diagnosis of ADHD.
DS: “I Was On A Radio Show Recently Talking About The Fact That There’s No Agreement What Reading Is Neurologically. Like Is Braille Reading? Are Audio Books Reading? There’s Much Discourse In Academia About What Reading Is.”
“My Mum Is Dyslexic As Well And She Would Read Us Books. She Went Into My School And Read Books To Us. I Feel Like I Live In A Whole Family of Story Tellers. There Was A Really Strong Oral Story Telling Tradition. My Grandad Would Like Call Up The House And Just Start Reciting Poems. He Was Very Eccentric.”
“I Just Didn’t Interact With Books In That Sort of…You Know. I Was In The Library All of The Time. My Mum Always Used To Take Us To The Library. She Was A Child Minder. So She Was Always Trying To Find Things To Do. So I Had The Relationship With Words And With Stories. My Brother Was Like Matilda. He’d Read Every Book In The House. By Juxtaposition To That, I Felt Like I Was Stupid. And Really Those Binary Narratives [Such As Being Called “Bookish”] Fed Into This Idea That I Wasn’t Smart.”
Self-Expression, Grime And Pirate Radio
“But Actually I Ended Up Being Sent To A Secondary School That Was The Worst Secondary School In The Area In An Academic Sense. But In Many Ways It Was The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me. Because:
We Had To Workout How To Form Our Own Education. And For A lot of Us That Was Grime At That Time. And I Saw All of Us Disenfranchised Facing Different Barriers In Different Ways And Having Very Little To Make Anything From. And Growing Up In The Inception of Grime Music And Seeing This Art Form Being Created From Nothing, From Teenagers In Their Bedrooms With Play Stations, Become This National Phenomenon – And A Decade Later It Became A Global Phenomenon – Was Quite Empowering For Someone Who Had A Different Brain. And I Think Also Our School Was So Chaotic – The Things I Saw Happen There – I Was Working Really Hard To Understand My Mind.
And I Felt Very Trapped At Home. You Know My Parents Are Mormon And Those Were Religious Views I Did Not Subscribe To In This Really Small House. I Was Bullied For The First Couple of Years At School. I Didn’t Really Have Any Friends. And That’s Very Similar To Grime At It’s Inception, Like You Have Nothing.
When You Look At Pirate Radio, The Media Didn’t Understand That These Young People Were Risking Their Lives To Create Radio Stations. It Wasn’t Because of Drugs, I Wasn’t Because of Crime (The Narrative That Was Being Peddled). By The Way If There Was A Pirate Radio Station, Statistically It’s More Likely That Crime Stats Would Go Down). It Was For The Art.”
“This Is All I Have Right. [So] I’m Just Going To Learn How To Do This.”
She Continues “And I Think Teachers Really Responded To That. The School That I Went To There Were A Few Teachers, One of Whom I’m Still In Touch With Today, Even Though She Lives In Canada, That Really Went Out To Bat For Me. My School Literally Ran The Whole Art A’Level Just For Me. And It Was A Big School. Nearly 2000 Kids In This School. And The Head Teacher Came Out And Saw My GCSE Art Work And Said Only Two People Want To Do The Art A’Level, We’re Going To Run It Anyway. The Other Person Dropped And So It Was Just Me And My Teacher For Two Years.”
TO.P: Wow! That’s Like Bespoke Education.
DS: “It Was Because My School Was So Bad In A Way. There Was So Much Going On. This New Head Teacher Had Come In To Turn Everything Around. And Here’s Me, No One’s My Friend, And There’s This Woman That I’m Trucking With And I’m Just Trying To Work It Out And I Remember My Art A’ Level Teacher Calling Me ‘Tenacious’ And Not Knowing What That Word Meant.”
“And I Think Back As Someone Who Now Works In Education A lot, And Big Bit of Feedback As To [The Question] “How Am I Going To Make It?”…
You Know What – “Just Show Up.”
“And People Don’t!”
“If You Show Up, On Time, And You Do Your Research And Show An Active Interest And You Have An Appetite.”
“Like I’ve Worked In Other Countries Where People Will Show Up. We Could Have A Whole Other Session on Why That It Is (Even When It’s Free).”
“If Anything For Me, I Need To Rest More. Rest Does Not Come Instinctively To Me. I’m Naturally Like “I Wanna Do It. I Wanna Make It Work.”
“The Teachers Really Responded To That!”
I Always Had A Special Teacher In Primary School And I Hated That. I Hated Having Someone Sit Next To Me And Tell Me When I Was Wrong, Out Loud In Front of Everyone Else. So I Was Always Seen As Special Needs.
When That New Teacher Came Around I Was Put In Bottom Set English And Then I Moved Up 5 Sets In 5 Days.
DS: At This Point I’d Not Been Diagnosed With Anything. And In My Final Year I Got Put In A Special Set For Science. And I Was Like “Why Are You Here” (To My Best Mate As She Was Really Smart) And She Was Like This Is The Special Set For Clever Kids. And I Was Like “What?” (When I Was In Year Nine).
And Grime Was A Big Part of That.
And Then I Started Getting Quite Positive Feedback. Often I’m Quite Slow At The Beginning. And Then Once I’ve Built A Foundation I’m Very Very Quick. Once I Figure Out How I Learn (And The Was Different To Most Other People) Then I Was Fine. I Could Work Things Out Myself. And The Same Thing Happened When I Was At University To Be Honest [Later On].
I Didn’t Do Very Well For The First Couple of Years. But Once I Understood What The Rules Were I Started Doing Really Well. And It Wasn’t Until My Head Said “You’re The Only Person On Track For A First…”
TO.P: Where Did You Go To University & What Degree Did You Get?
DS: I Went To Nottingham University For My BA [Creative & Professional Writing; A First] And Loughborough For My MA [Creative Writing With A Poetry Specialization; A Distinction]
TO.P: So For A Girl Who Wasn’t Diagnosed With Dyslexia Until You Were 21 That’s Quite Miraculous.
DS: Yeah. And I Wasn’t Diagnosed For ADHD (Attention Deficet Hyper-Activity Disorder) Until A Month Ago.
The Separation Between Boys And Girls Being Diagnosed Can Be As High As 1-To-12. Whereas In Adulthood It Evens Out To 1-To-1.
There’s A Real Gender, Class And Race Bias When It Comes To Our Perception of ADHD And It Really Affects How It’s Being Diagnosed.
[Referring Back To Being At School And Suddenly Being A Top Science Class…] And Then I Started Going To A School That Was So Different – Like There Was No Set Way of Doing Anything. My Brothers Didn’t Go There So I Was Away From Them And Their Genius-ness. They Both Went To Grammar School.
Actually I Remember Getting My A’Level Results Back For English And I Got A’ A’ A’ And An E’ In One of My Papers. And My English Teacher Was Like “You’ve Just Written This In Such A Strange Way. It’s Such An Unusual Unformulaic Way Some Could Just Assume You’re An Idiot.”
And I Think That’s The Story of My Life. And That’s Why I Don’t Conform To Language Such As Stupid. Idiot. Smart. It’s Not As Binary A Spectrum As We’d Assume.
I Wasn’t Diagnosed As Having Dyslexia Until I Was 21 When They Described It As The Clearest Case of Dyslexia They’d Ever Seen.
I Wasn’t Diagnosed As Having Dyslexia Until I Was 21 When They Described It As The Clearest Case of Dyslexia They’d Ever Seen.
Are Unimaginative, Exclusionary, ‘Old School’ Methods of Teaching Skating On Thin Ice In A Society With Greater Neuro-Divergence?
Borachio ~ Played By Dalumuzi Moyo
Leonato ~ Played By Jessica Enemokwu
Hero ~ Played By Thuliswas Magwaza
Benedict ~ Played By Daniel Cawley
Conrade ~ Played By Tomas Azocar-Nevin
Don John ~ Played By Jasmine Ricketts
Margaret ~ Played By Nathaly Sabino
The Friar ~ Played By Hannah Zoe Ankrah
TO.P: So What Age Where You When You Got Into Grime?
DS: Probably About 11/12. Hearing Bits And Bobs Through My Brother. So Really Really Young. And One of The First Things I Did Was Memorize. I Remember There Was A Clash On One of The Pirate Stations Between Asher D’ Now Ashley Waters And Dizzie Rascal – And Just Memorizing All The Lyrics.
DS: I’d Say Them Out Loud To Myself. On My Way Home. Over And Over Again. This Is A Real Central Part of My Practice Now. It Was Just This Different Way of Learning. When The Words Come From The Body (As Opposed To From The Page). When We Think About Song And We Think About Poetry They Come From These Mnemonic Techniques. For A Long Time To Learn Stories And Poems People Would Recall Things From Memory And That’s How Songs And Poems Were Created. It’s A Rhythm And A Rhyme. As Someone Who Is An Actor But Often Doing Monologues or Dialogues or Poems or Something, I Can Tell You Poems And Songs Are Much Easier To Memorize Than Any Other Form of Text.
TO.P: So How Did You Get Through Two Degrees And The Currently Established Formal Way of Learning. Because The System Is Not Set Up For Mnemonic Learning.
DS: I’m Really Good At Articulating Myself Out Loud. But My Comprehension & Reading Speed Is Probably Just Below Average. It’s That Gap That Creates A Very Profound Disability. Because It Feels Like In One Way I Can Sprint And Then It Feels Like I Hit A Body of Water As Soon As I Look At Book…And I Can’t Swim. That Creates A Very Frustrating Experience For Me Because I Can’t Understand Why I Can Do All These Other Things And I Can’t Do This Thing. It Also Created Quite A Hostile Learning Environment For Me Because Teachers Would Often Assume I’m Lazy And Say Why Can You Do This Here But You Can’t Do That There.
TO.P: So How Did You Beat The System
DS: Well Firstly There’s Been A lot of People on My Journey That Supported Me. Just By Chance The BA Which I Did Was This Very Interesting And Innovative BA That Started off In The Education Department That Was All About Widening Access And The Majority of The People On My Course When I Did It Were Not 18 Year Olds. They Were Like In Their 70s, In Their 40s And Doing The Course Over A Ten Year Period To Accumulate A Degree. And It Was Only The Year That I Went In That They Let A Few Undergraduates Who Have Come off A’Levels On To The Course. That Was Really Great For Me. That I Was On A Course That Was Not Normal.
TO.P: What Year Was That?
DS: 2008. It Doesn’t Exist Anymore. It Ended Three Years After I Graduated. I Was Teaching On That Course When I Was 21. They Let Me Design A Whole Module. I Was Doing A Full Time Career As A Writer Before I Graduated. I Was The First Person To Come Out of That Course To Have A Career Before I Graduated. That’s Why They Pulled Me On To Teach On It. In A Way It Was A Very Radical Course. Particularly For University That Did Not Used To Be A Polytechnic. Very Unusual For A Redbrick. They Don’t Really Have The Funding And Support To Continue Doing It. Just Thinking Dynamically About What A Degree Should Be And Questioning That, I Nearly Went To East Anglia And They Have The Most Notorious Creative Writing Courses In The Country And If Went To Norwich And Did A Normal Creative Writing Degree I Might Have Dropped Out. I Don’t Know That Would Have Worked For Me In The Same Way. Lots of Luck Was Involved And Things Beyond My Control.
And I Need To Give My Mum A Lot of Credit As Someone Who Is Deeply Neuro-Divergent.
I See Her Around Babies. She Just Really Meets Kids On Their Level. Like “How Do You Want To Interact With The World. And How Can I Enable You To Optimize That. I Often Look How Confident Me And My Brothers Are And Confidence Makes A Huge Difference To How Likely You Are To Succeed In Education Systems.
She Explains What She Calls The Hands Up System‘ Means Only 20% of Students Will Receive Positive Assurance Compared To Up To 80% Who May Have Negative Experiences As They Get Picked on For Not Putting Their Hands Up.
“I Remember My Head of Year Sat Me Down In My Second Year When I Thought I Was Doing Quite Badly, And Saying “If I Look At The Trajectory of Your Grades…” (In The Beginning I Was Getting Low 2:2s Even In Poetry Modules) “If You Look At It, Where You Are Now, You’re On Course To Get A First”. “If I Track All Your Grades You Are Slowly Getting Better And Better And Better”.
“And I Think I Realised This Isn’t About Being Smart. It’s About Working Out What I Want To Achieve. And Working Out What They Want From Me. And Finding The Meeting Point In The Middle.”
TO.P: Wow! That’s Beautiful. With Loughborough, How Did You Navigate That? Was It A Similar Thing?
DS: No. That Was Much Harder. My MA Was A Bit of A Nightmare. I Was Working Full Time At That Point. Lecturing At Nottingham University Already. On The BA That I Graduated From. I Did A Lot of Touring That Year. I Did Eight States of America In Eight Weeks. I Went All Over Europe. Maybe 15 Countries In Europe That Year. I Really Wanted To Get A Book Out. I Also Got A Pamphlet Out Whilst I Was There (It Was Called Pidgeon Party). I Really Struggled With That.
You Used To Be Able To Go BA – PHD. Whereas Now You Have To Do An MA To Do A PHD. And All The Money Really Comes From The BA Students And All The Research Comes From The PHD Students. I Feel Like There’s This Weird Middle Ground Where No One Really Cares About You. The Teachers Don’t Really Have Time To Spend Time With You.
It Kind of F**k*d Up My Dyslexia Support. It Meant That In One Particular Module I Did Really Really Badly. I Nearly Failed That Module. You Can Only Get Pass or Distinction At Loughborough. And I Got 70.2%. I Was Really Proud of That. And For My BA I Think I Got Something Like 88% (Way Over What I Needed To Get To Get A First). But It Was Like That’s The Perfect Life/Work Balance.
“Some People Have No Leverage To Beat The System. I Think You’ve To See It As A Bit of An Assault Course. You’ve Got To Work Out What They Want From You.Even Down To Different Tutors Who Will Be Grading Your Paper”
“What Are They Telling Me Is A High Grade Thing? You Actually Have To Think About It Like That Because It’s Really Like That At University. And It’s About Trying Not To Lose Yourself In The Process But To Gain Something.”
Cast And Rehearsal Photos By Helen Murry
Claudio ~ Played By Jez Davess-Humphrey
Don Pedro ~ Played By Jack D’Arcy
Balthazar ~ Played By Jerome Scottt
Who Also Plays Hugh Oatcake
Beatrice ~ Played By Isolde Fenton
Doctor Dogberry ~ Played By Eleanor Booth
George Seacole ~ Played By Olivia Ng
Played By ~ Chloe Cooper
Who Also Plays The Sexton
(Churhyard Maintenence Attendant)
Verges ~ Played By Kira Golightly
The Power of Books, Film, & TV Converge To Make A Maverick Re-Mix Decades After Some Denzel Magic
A Turning Point In Stevenson’s Career Was The Question of Who Decides Who or What Gets Recognition
So What Is A “Re-Mix” In The Theatrical Sphere?
Photo: Shakespeare (Public Domain)
TO.P: The Established Literary Wisdom (Rightly or Wrongly – But Currently) Is That Shakespeare And Dickens Are Our Two Greatest Classic Writers. Dickens Would Be Our Preference, Because He Was Clear And Acknowledged And Integrated The Existence of The Different Classes In His Storytelling. Upstairs & Downstairs. Rich & Poor. Middle Class & Working Class. (Plus One of Us Shares A Birthday With Him. Obviously In Different Years!)
Bearing In Mind Your Dyslexia, ADHD And All The Challenges You Had, Why Did You Choose Something So Challenging As Shakespeare Given How Convoluted He Is?
She Takes The Point About His “Convolution” But Explains Her Introduction To Him Was Through The Movie Much Ado About Nothing Starring Denzel Washington! (What Can We Say?)
And She Finds A Connection Between Shakespeare’s Dialect And The Dialect of Grime (We Are Not Sure We See It Ourselves But True Democracy & Education Is All About Different Perspectives And Broadening The Mind).
DS: My Access Point To Shakespeare Was The Movie Much Ado About Nothing With Denzel Washington & Emma Thompson. I Just Found It Really Funny And Loved It. I Watched It Loads of Times As Kid. To This Day It’s Still My Favourite Shakespeare Play.
I Don’t Know If Any Other Shakespeare Play Had Come In I Would Have Said Yes. At First It Was Because I Love ‘Much Ado’ And Know It off By Heart Anyway.
My Main Concern Was That I Can’t Skim Read And It’s Just So Much Text. So We Had Quite Extensive Conversations. I Was Given A Person For Neuro-Divergent Support Around The Project. I Can’t Do So Much Reading. And It’s A Lot of Reading.
So We Had A Lot of Back & Forth Between Us About How Best To Support Me Around That. And That’s Been Really Good.
It’s An Administrative Person. We Do A Lot of Voice Noting. Such As Can You Research This. Can You Find Sections of The Play That Do This. Can You…[Etc].
So That Was Really Cool.
Photo & Compendium: Owned By TheOrator.Press (Book Originally Published 1982.) 41 Years Ago. By #chancellorpress)
Photos: Social Observer, Commentator, Pioneer, Leader, And Mentor Charlie Dark @daddydarkrdc Helped Writer, Producer, Actor & Lecturer Debris Stevenson @debrisstevenson See The Literary Light When It Comes To Valuation, His-tory And Her-story.
TO.P: Listening To Some Rappers One Wonders How On Earth They Remember All Those Words. And Listening To You Today Explain Mnemonic Learning It Seems Clear That It’s Not Given The Due Recognition It Deserves In Terms of Being A Recognised Alternative Learning Method, Educational Skill & Personal Development Skill.
Director Josie Daxter @josiedaxter.com And Producer @debrisstevenson In Rehearsals
DS: Yeah. That Was A Turning Point For Me Which Charlie Dark My Friend And Mentor In The World of Poetry, Writing And Rap Helped Me With. He Says Who Decided That What Byron And Shakespeare Did Was More Impressive Than 16/17 Year Olds Memorizing Two Hours of Material In A Hot Sweaty Room Surrounded By People Shouting At You, Trying To Take The Mike Out of Your Hand, While The DJ You Can Just About Hear Is Going To Play Any At Any Time At 140+ Beats Per Minute And You’ve Got To Also Entertain A Crowd While Other People Want To Beat You?
And That Was A Big Thing For Me When I Was Teaching At University And A Resurgence of Grime Came About And There Was A Lot of Racist S**t About Grime Within The Media Which Was Hyper-Focused On The Violence. And I’m Not Denying There Was Violence Around It But There’s Violence Around A Lot of Things.
[As We Have Sadly Seen Again With The HORRIFIC Police Brutality Murder of Tyre Nichols By State Sponsored Thugs Trussed Up In Police Uniform For Whom Excuses Are often Made By Police Unions, Corrupt Politicians, And Contorted Commentators. Former President Trump Even Encouraged Police Brutality When He Was In Office And It Has Got Worse Since Then With Both The HORRIFIC Police Brutality Murders of George Floyd And Tyre Nichols Happening After His Statement At A Police Convention. And The Hammer Attack On Nancy Pelosi’s Husband. Even The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan Reported That Threats To His Life Reduced By 5 Times After Trump Was Banned From Twitter.
So It Is Arguable That Just As Not All Police Officers Are Corrupt And Violent, Neither Are All Grime Artists.
As Stevenson Pointed Out Earlier, For Some The Inception of Grime Was About The Art And Expression of Feelings Within An Unaccommodating System. Not The Violence. [And Also Innocent Endeavours By Black Working Class Males Are Often Demonized Instead of Being Given A Chance To Thrive, Develop, And Display Their Good Side And Potential For Better]
Police Violence Is Deadly, Destructive, Devestating, Decades And Centuries Old. Generations of Certain Politicians And Police Unions Have Repeatedly Failed To Effectively Deal With The Evil Poisonous Problem. Until They Do Campaigners, Demonstrators, Protestors, Mothers, Fathers And Families Will Keep Calling For Police Reform & Restructuring. @vp Vice President Kamala Harris
Photos: Charles Dickens (Public Domain)
DS: Once I Got In The Room And I Started Actually Playing With The Text I Realized Oh My God, This Is So My Wheel House. I Think In Poems Anyway. I Think In Rhyme Anyway. These Plays Are Written With Mnemonic Technics.
Once We Found The Right Framing For It Which Was Reality TV, Love Island Kind of Framing (That’s My Guilty Pleasure By The Way, Watching Those Kinds of TV Shows. I Have A Fascination With Them. Mainly From An Anthropological Perspective Anyway) And Building Lots of Devising Techniques To Give The Ensemble Room To Play With Them, It Made More Sense To Work With Them.
Pigeon Party By Debris Stevenson (Who Identifies Inter-Alia As Queer Ex-Morman, White, Italian, Jewish, Grime Poet, Hybrid Writer, Grown Up With Many Aspects of Black British Cultural Experience) Is A Collection of Awesome, Authentic, Edgy, Earthy, And Outrageous Urban Poetic Stories. Published By Flipped Eye Publishing, May 2014 (Founded By Ghanaian Writer @Nii Ayikwei Parkes).
TO.P: Listening To You Speak About This Way of Learning, You Are So Articulate About It [Indicative of The Fact The “Hands Up System” Is Not Necessarily The Best Barometer of Intelligence]. DS: Thank You.
TO.P: It Seems There Should Be More Recognition Nationally of This Way of Learning And That It Should Not Just Be Down To Luck. Because There Will Be Lots of Kids Out There That Won’t Have The Luck You’ve Had (And That Art Course Was Some Great Luck!). And They Will Not Have Their Potential Discovered And Could Instead Fall By The Waste Side.
DS: Exactly. Just Cycling Here Today I Was Thinking There’s Something So Anti-Colonial About The Way We Are Doing This. I’ve Seen So Many Versions of ‘Much Ado’ Because I Love It So Much, Like The First Time I Went To The National [Theatre] It Was To See Much Ado.
And I Feel Like There Is This Hidden Set of Rules Like ‘This Is The Way You’re Supposed To Do This Shakespeare Play And You Have To Play Within Those Boundaries. And I Told The Ensemble Just Forget All of That.
The More I Get Into My Career And Senior Positions I Feel Like There’s Something So Radical About Me Being Neuro-Diverse And Saying I Don’t Know What’s Going On Here. I Don’t Know! I Don’t Understand! Me Being Open About My Lack of Understanding Instead of Coming From This Position Where I Need To Pretend I Know Everything.
TO.P: We’ve Never Heard The Term Re-mixing Before In Terms of Plays. Can You Please Explain?
DS: So Obviously There’s Bridging. There’s Adaptation. It’s Like Remixing A Song. I Feel Like It’s Way Beyond What One Would Do In An Adaptation.
“The Things That Were Problematic About The Play Were Also Things Problematic About Love Island.
We’ve Allowed It To Argue With Itself.”Debris Stevenson Talking to TheOrator.Press Late January 2023 During Our “Much Ado” Exclusive Preview Interview
Photo: @Maya Jama, New Love Island Presenter Courtesy of itv.x