Spotlight On… Writer of Curl Up & Die, Anna Longaretti

New Play: “Curl Up & Die”

It’s blue-rinse murder at the last chance salon!

London, October 2016: Anna Longaretti, has followed up her highly successful debut play with her second play “Curl Up & Die”. The new farce, directed by Bryony J Thompson, will play for six shows at The Questors Theatre, London W5 from Tuesday 15 – Saturday 19 November, 2016.

Curl Up & Die is an original play about 32-year old Ruth who inherits her Aunt’s antiquated hair salon, and the elderly clientele who come with it. Ruth knows the salon’s survival is dependent on a complete make-over boost, which she hopes can be funded by winning the big cash prize of a prestigious hairdressing competition.

On the day of the contest Ruth’s best efforts to keep the blue-rinse brigade from their weekly shampoo and sets, are thwarted. The judge, deputy editor of FAB HAIR magazine, arrives and realises too late the photographer sent to photograph the model is a regrettable holiday fling: and worse, he is keen to rekindle the ‘Sangria’ flame; the surprise inspection by the Westminster Health and Safety officer throws everyone into a lather; and a client is found dead under the hairdryer.

Can the salon’s faithful senior ladies save the day?

For more than two decades, Longaretti worked as a hair and make-up artist with fashion photographers David Bailey, Mario Testino and Nick Knight; Hollywood legends such as Faye Dunaway, Omar Sharif, Miranda Richardson; and contemporary stars including David Beckham, Drew Barrymore, Helena Bonham Carter, Jonathan Ross and Vinny Jones.

London-born/based Longaretti is realising a long-held ambition to make her mark as a playwright. She began honing her craft in 1992 by studying with renowned playwright Bernard Kops. Anna released her first play in 2013 directed by James Barry called Sex Cells, which has since been published by Samuel French, translated into Greek and performed in mainland Europe, Australia, New Zealand and USA. Two monologues were chosen from Sex Cells to be included in Lawrence Harbison’s book ‘The Best Women’s Stage Monologues 2015’.

Venue: Questors Theatre, 12 Mattock Lane, London W5 5BQ

Dates: Tuesday 15-Saturday 19 Nov – Evening 7:30pm/Saturday 19 Nov – Matinee 3:00pm

Running time: Aprox 1 hour 13 minutes with a 15 minute interval. Tickets: £15-£17, £13 concessions.

I chatted to Anna about the play and what the audience can expect from the piece.

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Anna. Tell me about the piece and your inspiration for it…

I set myself a challenge to write a farce that would rival ‘One Man Two Guvnors’, yes I did just say that. But I wanted mine to be from a woman’s perspective and a real dilemma. No points for guessing where I got the inspiration for that particular topic, I am a woman, when I last looked, and I am ambitious – see opening line.  So Curl up and Die is about Ruth, a hairdresser (I used to be one of those too) who was bequeathed her Aunt Vera’s dilapidated Salon and the octogenarian clientele that comes with it. If she tries to fulfil her dreams then the clientele will have no place to go, a fact that torments her. Her feelings of guilt and loyalty versus a desperate need to discover what she is capable of achieving – what she is truly made of.

Was it easy to put it all down on paper?

The initial draft wasn’t hard, but the subsequent drafts were like unravelling spaghetti and trying to put it all back on the plate exactly where I’d found it. Ten characters, often on stage at once, I can only say that it was hard keeping track of what they were saying, what they were doing and where they were doing it. What they had overheard, what they knew and what they weren’t meant to know. At one stage I thought that I should build a set out of cardboard and place the characters in it; but in the end I managed to keep the whole befuddled mess in my addled brain.

Is it translating well from page to stage?

The surprising answer to this is, YES!

How is the space lending itself to the piece?

We are rehearsing in TheatreN16 as I don’t have the budget to rehearse at the Questors. We have made doorways with two chairs making a gap, and vaguely measured where things will be. My director, Bryony Thompson is marvellous at so many things, but she is especially good at seeing the thing as a whole. I also have a very funny and talented cast who are enthusiastic and committed to making it good. In that respect I’ve struck gold.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

I’ve sat in some right, royal uncomfortable theatres and seen some, what seemed to me, pointless plays, praying for the final curtain. So I know what I don’t want for the audience. These days, we multi-task, looking at our devices and screens whilst eating and watching TV. It’s not new to say that our attention spans are shorter, but I’m not sure the world of theatre is taking note. Perhaps I’m a philistine, but if so then that’s what informs my approach. I believe it’s my job to try to keep the audience absorbed and guessing; and that if I call it a farce, it had better be funny. I may be setting myself up for a fall here, but you did ask. Perhaps my answer should just be that I hope they have an uplifting experience, one that they couldn’t have had at home.

Finally, any advice for budding writers?

Borrowing from Winston Churchill: ‘just keep buggering on’. It’s really that simple and that hard. I can’t tell anyone how to keep the seat of their bum attached to the seat of their chair, it’s a challenge. And the biggest challenge is the inner critic, ‘this is crap’, ‘who would want to see this’, ‘who do you think you are?’ ‘It’s not about a refugee or a banker so it’s worthless’. And then there’s the housework, ‘if I just put a white load on’, ‘that front step looks like it could do with a scrub’.  Err! …. If I’m the only one who goes through that, this could be a case of over-sharing. Come and see the play, you’ll have a laugh, I promise.

Thanks to Anna for a great interview, it sounds like a terrific show!

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