03 October 2016

OS performance of BASH

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Sevenoaks School was delighted to welcome back Thea Mead, Sasha Doulerain Jr and Remi Pfister who performed their award winning Edinburgh Fringe Festival interpretation of Neil LaBute’s ‘Bash’. Their play consisted of two different mono-duet dramas, the first being ‘medea redux’, where a young girl recalls the sexual relationship she had, at thirteen, with her high school teacher and the lonely struggle she encounters due to her pregnancy. The story is powerful and Thea Mead incredibly portrays the young woman’s neurotic inner mind through repeated, subtle movements (such as scratching at her forehead) and the change of tone in her voice when she admits to killing her young child. In this powerful drama, although set in what could be an interrogation room, the audience is transported to her world and becomes a part of her story.

The second mono-duet drama, ‘a gaggle of saints’, depicts the story of a young couple, John and Sue, attending a fancy dress party with friends in New York City. The couple address the audience alternately, which shows the audience their individual perspectives of the evening. After the party, the men, including John, go to Central Park, where they encounter two middle-aged gay lovers. The men proceed to follow one into the public bathroom and savagely murder the man before offering a short eulogy for him. Following this they reunite with the women and John proposes to Sue with a ring stolen from the dead man. This distressing play leaves the audience in shock as they have been drawn into the story and feel sympathy for Sue, who was unaware of her husband’s violence. Sasha Doulerain Jr perfectly captured the psychotic man who showed so much anger and hatred for something he did not understand.

After the thrilling performance I got in touch with the talented actors who kindly answered my many questions. Sasha Doulerain Jr explained to me that they “spent about five weeks rehearsing, with about 3-6 hours of rehearsal each day.” When returning to Sevenoaks, they explained to me that “it felt like the perfect way to end the show’s run.” This is because when they were students they spent “pretty much all the time in and around the theatre.” Sasha described it as a “wonderful sort of closure to the show we made.” Impressively, the entire show was directed and staged by the two aspiring actors and Remi Pfister, the Tech Manager. Sasha explained to me that, for him, collaborating with Thea was incredible. She was a “legend in Sevenoaks, [he] always looked up to her as an artist and the decision to work with her on a show was a no-brainer for [him]”.

The most interesting part of the interview was Sasha’s valuable advice to aspiring actors and directors. He explained that one must “read a lot, watch everything, meet as many new people as possible. The trick to playing any character is to recognise and understand familiar traits within his/her personality, so meeting people of different personalities and backgrounds, reading books about places alien to you, and watching films about life that you haven’t yet lived, will help you understand the character, and will make your performance authentic, as you will then approach the performance from an internal understanding of the character. In other words, do research all the time, on people, places, ideas, everything.”

He also gave advice to aspiring directors: “research is just as, if not more, important but practically it’s important to be able to place the production above everything in your life; the best directors in the world, living or dead, were all slightly insane, so there’s that as well… if you want to be a good director, don’t ever make artistic decisions out of non-artistic reasons, and always be ready to get yelled at.” For students interested in creating plays to be put on in Sevenoaks he explained that it’s crucial to “make something unforgettable and crazy. Don’t play it safe with anyone, or anything, ever, especially now, because it is the time to experiment and be provocative.”

This extraordinary production had the Sevenoaks audience on the edge of their seats and I think this is one of the most exciting plays I have ever seen. I cannot wait to see what these incredible actors will create in the future.

Hannah Saint

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