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Heather Kelley on The Thrill of the Chase

February 8th, 2012 No Comments

As promised, we are sitting down with the wonderfully talented individuals who are responsible for the upcoming production of The Thrill of the Chase, a magnetic new play by Philip Gawthorne.┬áRemember to get your tickets early as space is limited. You can get your tickets by following this link. Make sure you ‘Like Us‘ on Facebook and get the code for discounted tickets for our family and friends. You can learn more about The Thrill of the Chase here.

Check back everyday leading up to opening night as we talk to the actors, director and playwright of this biting new play by one of UK’s most talked about young playwright.

 

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Today, we are discussing this play with Mad Dog’s Literary Manager, Heather Kelley. Heather generously gives us an insight into the selection of the play, its context, Mad Dog’s dedication to new work, and why she thinks you should come join us at The Thrill of the Chase.

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What drew you to The Thrill of the Chase?

Its sensibility. I could tell immediately that Philip has a keen ear for dialogue. His characters sound like real people; you might eavesdrop on them in a bar, or at a dinner party, and yet they are aggressively theatrical. I read so many plays that aren’t able to strike a balance. They are either so stylized they run the risk of sounding academic, or so pedestrian you wonder why they were written at all. As an actor, you’re always answering the question: why now? Why is this day different from any other? What are the consequences for it being so? Playwrights juggle so many things; it’s not surprising, as with acting, a sense of immediacy is often the first thing to go. With Thrill of the Chase, you’ve got a play that, perhaps, on the outside sounds familiar: it takes place in an apartment in New York, and examines the friendship between two men who are seeming opposites. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of plays about that: plays that explore men, their relationships with other men, and their identity as men. I see these plays, and no matter how good they are, as a woman, it’s hard to feel engaged. And yet, Philip’s play stood out to me. It was braver, asked more questions than it answered, and – despite some of its characters’ behavior – didn’t feel misogynistic. It took what has become a cliche for me and turned it on its head in the best possible way, and this is a testament to Philip’s superlative storytelling.

Where does this play fit on the spectrum of work Mad Dog has already produced, or hopes to produce?

I think, as with All The Way From China and This is Not the Play, we see that experience is the prism we view the world through, and this affects our communication with each other. And it really can’t be otherwise: our own life is our only reference point. In China, grief was the prism; grief colored how each character dealt with one another and made decisions, albeit in very different ways. In This is Not the Play, the prism was the individual’s experience of race, both his or her own and other people’s, and how this experience either confirmed or defied stereotypes. In Thrill, personal histories again have a profound impact on characters. They determine the course of relationships, the magnitude of emotions that character might feel, and are both the source of a character’s greatest strength and greatest weakness.

Since its inception, Mad Dog has championed new work. Why is this, and what are some of the challenges of producing new plays?

Art, at its best, serves a purpose. It does something. It provides a service. There are plenty of “old” plays – plays that have been produced before, and perhaps for hundreds of years, like Shakespeare – that are still relevant, and do still resonate with contemporary audiences. And while theatre as a whole is underfunded and not produced often enough, these plays are more likely than new ones to get a shot; they’ve already proved themselves as “successful,” however modestly. New plays are perceived as more of a risk; they are considered less financially viable. Mad Dog believes that new stories attract new audiences. We are interested in a dialogue – as human beings and as artists – that reflects the world we inhabit, as it evolves, now. Philip’s play is a perfect example of this. These characters are of this moment: they are a product of it. I can’t wait to hear the audience recognize themselves (or their friends or their enemies) onstage!

What, if anything, would you tell the audience about what they’re going to see?

I would just challenge them to consider the playwright’s point of view. Is he condoning his characters’ actions, or criticizing them? Are you, as an audience member, comfortable with what you’re seeing, or appalled? And I don’t know that there is a right answer to either of these questions. I hope we get as many varied responses as there are people in the audience.

Really? That’s all you’re going to tell us?

A play is called a “play,” after all. How much fun would it be if I spoiled the game?

 

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