Thank you for talking to Break A Leg, do tell me about Maggie and Pierre, what can the audience expect from the production?
They can expect to learn about the incredible true story of Margaret and Pierre Trudeau’s relationship and see how that played out through the eyes of a nation. They can also expect to see all this done by one performer in just over an hour, so it’ll be a mean feat to watch!
How does one go about putting on a one-woman show like this? Can you describe the process from page to stage?
It’s pretty much the same as any other rehearsal process. We began the first week with analysing the text around a table; going through it, asking questions and feeding in any research that might be relevant. After that it’s just a process of playing with it on its feet and trying out different ideas.
As Kelly Burke (our actor) has to play three roles, sometimes simultaneously in one scene, we’ve also brought Jonnie (movement director) and Nina (voice and dialect coach) on board. They provide expertise to help Kelly in creating the vocal and physical distinctions between the three characters.
The main difference with this piece and another is that it’s just Kelly and me in the room together the whole time. So we make sure we’re being communicative with each other to check in on how things are going and try and keep things light and fun.
How are rehearsals going, any surprises coming out at this point?
Lots, but in a good way! As a director I love this part of the process, you come into rehearsals with a set of ideas and thoughts on the piece and then hand those over to the actors. It’s so exciting to have those ideas worked with, challenged and then realised as a new and better thing.
What were you looking for in the actress that you were casting?
I was looking for someone with experience in doing one person shows but also someone who has warmth, charisma and a personal connection to the text and what it’s saying. Kelly has all that and more.
What led you to a career in directing and what has been your highlight to date?
It was a bit of a journey, but as with a lot of people, it started with acting. As a teenager I started off doing musicals at The Wycombe Swan Theatre in the summer and subsequently decided to take A-Level Theatre Studies. However, it was really at Warwick University where I discovered directing through the drama societies, from there I went to Birkbeck University where I did a masters in directing and I’ve been working since then.
As for my highlight to date, it’s quite hard to pin down; there are so many different experiences that have been rewarding in their own right. My top three would have to be putting The Globe’s touring production of King John into Salisbury Cathedral, working on The Lorax at the Old Vic and directing my own production of A Tale of Two Cities on the BRIT programme over in Tampa, Florida.
What are your ambitions as a director?
It’s something that’s always changing but I think career wise I’ve always wanted to be Artistic Director of a building. I love the idea of constructing a relationship with an audience and it’s community; engaging them through all the different varieties of work and programming a theatre does.
Any advice for budding directors?
Keep positive, stay critical, see as much work as possible and make as much work as possible.
Finally, what would you say to encourage audience members to come and see the show?
This is not just a show about a famous Canadian Prime Minister. It’s a play about mental health and the effect of celebrity politics on a nation, a family and a lover. At its heart it’s a love story about how a nation and woman fell in love with a man who couldn’t live up to the perfect image of him they had created in their minds.
Thanks to Eduard for chatting to Break A Leg, sending all good wishes for the run.