Director Hannah Hauer-King is currently working on Fury, which opens at the Soho Theatre in July. It has been described as ‘a chilling, modern Medea.’ I caught up with her this week to find out more about it…
(Interview by @AmieAmieTay)
AT: Tell us a little about you, how did you come to be a director?
HHK: Like many directors I actually first got into theatre through acting, but unfortunately I was pretty awful… In my first year at college in the US, a director had the guts (and wisdom) to break this fact to me gently! But she also extended the olive branch by then offering an assisting position on her show. I absolutely adored being on the other side, and went on to direct throughout college with student theatre companies, as well as assisting professionally in DC. I even ended up deciding to do a performing arts degree alongside theology, which was totally unanticipated! From then I ended up moving back to London to work at Soho Theatre as a resident assistant director, eventually followed by my first professional production.
AT: And tell us about Damsel Productions, how and when did you form as a company?
HHK: Damsel came about around the time of Dry Land, a show I directed at Jermyn Street last year. Kitty Wordsworth (co-founder of the company) came on board as a producer, and we set up a company to support the project. It happened quite coincidentally that I had assembled a creative team that was almost exclusively made up of women, women who I thoroughly enjoyed working with and felt would work well as a collective for future projects. We decided from then that we wanted our company ethos to be about addressing gender imbalance in the arts, as well as putting the female experience centre-stage of all our productions. It’s interesting because I had always imagined I would set up an LGBTQ female lead company, (and would have expected that a solely all female company was broad or ‘already done’) but I couldn’t have really anticipated how much interest the Damsel concept has generated. It’s been beyond rewarding to connect and meet with female artists around the country who are excited by our ethos and keen to collaborate, but also shows just how much work still needs to be done.
AT: Fury comes to the Soho Theatre this July, what’s it about?
HHK: The phrase has certainly been repeated… but a “chilling modern Medea” is a good way to describe Fury. The play centres on a young single mother called Sam, living alone with two children in an estate in Peckham. Left by the father of her children for another woman, bored and dissatisfied she strikes up a friendship with Tom who lives in the flat above. Unfortunately the relationship evolves dangerously; and as the play progresses Sam becomes increasingly alienated by the world around her, a world represented by a modern Chorus who guide us through her journey. However, Sam eventually takes control and makes an ultimate decision about both hers and her children’s destiny.
AT: And why was it important for you as a company to stage this piece?
HHK: Though I fear my synopsis may suggest the contrary, one of the reasons it’s important for Damsel to stage this play is because it puts a female character at the epicentre of action, one that totally deviates from any ingénue model and is impulsive, fierce and refreshingly flawed. It’s also both exciting and integral for us to collaborate with talented young female artists such as Phoebe Éclair-Powell – though we are not limited to new writing, our focus for now seems on emerging female playwrights.
AT: How have rehearsals been so far?
HHK: You’ve caught me on the first day! We had a read-through of the piece and did some early stages table work. There hasn’t been an actor mutiny so hopefully I’m doing ok…
AT: Describe the piece in 6 words…
HHK: Atmospheric, unrelenting, engaging, painful, thrilling, provocative
AT: Anything else?
HHK: Hope to see you there! It’s only 75 minutes and there should be some good post-show debate in the bar.
On at The Soho Theatre 5th – 30th July