Reading Shelagh Stephenson’s Five Kinds of Silence at school inspired me to put this play on. Despite being written in the 1990s, it deals with a multitude of issues which are still prevalent in modern society. 1 in 4 women will deal with domestic abuse in their lifetime, with many facing it on a regular basis. The play portrays a mother and two daughters, whose lives are completely dominated by their controlling husband and father, Billy. The production shows snapshots of their family life, as well as simultaneously exploring Billy’s own abusive upbringing, whilst covering the somewhat more hidden side of domestic abuse: women against men.
I have been asked about why I chose to stylise the physical and sexual abuse scenes, especially as so many performances of this show choose to stage it more naturalistically. I believe that delivering these key scenes through physical theatre leaves far more to the imagination – arguably making the performance more haunting.
The show has a very minimalist feel, as props and complex sets can often distract from the actual performance. I do, however, rely heavily on careful musical choices, and spent much of my holidays prancing around my room delivering the various monologues to a range of tracks. I am a huge fan of the composer Dickon Hinchcliffe, who created the soundtrack for ‘Winter’s Bone’. As a result, a number of his tracks feature heavily throughout the show.
When directing, especially physical theatre, I believe whole-heartedly in collaborative performances. The cast and I watched countless DV8, Stan Won’t Dance, and Frantic Assembly clips to prepare for the physical theatre side of the production. We have had a particularly tight turnaround with this production, but with a committed cast, a phenomenally efficient producer (Alex Cartlidge) and a wonderfully confident assistant director (Rose Reade – who loves forcing us all to step outside of our comfort zones), I am so excited to see the finished product this week.
Five Kinds of Silence is running at the Corpus Playroom from Tuesday 28 January – Saturday 1 February.