Actor Natali Servat and director Roman Berry talk about ‘Little Did I Know’ by Doc Andersen-Bloomfield, a powerful story of one refugee's search for freedom and safety.
by guest interviewer: Tessa Heart
What attracted you to this production?
Natali: As an actor, doing a one woman show is an incredibly appealing thing and I love the challenge of it. But the heart of it, of course, is the story of Little Did I Know. I am a child of refugees, my mother escaped the civil war from El Salvador, my father, the Iran-Iraq War and they went to Sweden. Essentially they did it to survive. It's incredibly hard to leave everything and everyone you know behind and this play really shows that in a beautiful way. It's told with compassion, heart and humour.
Tell us more about the play!
Roman: As part of the Top 3 Bread and Roses Playwriting Award, it’s a play that sheds light on the current Refugee Crisis especially from Syria. The story is about a young girl, Aaneseh, who escapes from war torn Syria, pretending to be a boy and meets different characters throughout the journey. Her main aim is to reach England, with just a pair of boots and lots of determination.
What is it like being on stage for a one-woman-show?
Natali: The role requires a lot of stamina and energy. Scary. But it is such an incredible challenge for me as an actor to do. I'm so grateful to be given the opportunity. It's a great pleasure to work with Roman Berry, as he gives me a lot of freedom to devise it myself and help find the right emotion for such a challenging piece. It is intimidating to do a one woman show, I'm not going to lie, but I am looking forward to it. It is a very important story to tell.
What has the rehearsal process been like?
Roman: First, we had a long discussion about the nature and the world of the play. Natali and I talked a lot about the refugee crisis, trying to understand this major human catastrophe. The beauty about Doc Andersen-Bloomfield's writing is that, it allows to devise and to adapt to the different scenes. There is a hint to utilise different forms. There's scope for music, dance and physical theatre, which I love. Dance and movement direction is my core background and we're utilising some of these to explore the storytelling of the piece. The wonderful part about Natali is that she launches herself and makes different offers, each time we negotiate a scene. So there's a bit of everything, I call it hybrid performance arts approach to the text. I use rafts that have been tested and experiment along the way. It's been a lot of hard work, yet an exciting rehearsal process. It's definitely an important story to tell and to me. Theatre plays an integral part in probing and creating debate, more importantly, understanding the current refugee crisis.
A lot of plays about the refugee crisis have been focused on the male perspective, what makes this production different?
Roman: The play is different because, Little Did I Know's narrative revolves around a young woman named Aaneseh and her opinionated grandmother. It's the women's voices, survival and adventures that really drive the story. It is also written by a woman, Doc Andersen-Bloomfield.
What were the biggest challenges in bringing this to the stage?
Roman: Directing a one woman show is a major challenge in itself, but having Natali Servat take the character head on, just makes a big difference to creating Aaneseh's world. We also have multimedia, as well as original composition written specifically for Little Did I know by Elliot Clay, to weave into the show so having collaborators and designers helping out makes the process easier.
And what can audiences most look forward to?
Roman: Audiences hopefully get inspired by Aaneseh's story.
LITTLE DID I KNOW by Doc Andersen-Bloomfield
Directed by Roman Berry
6th to 10th February at 7.30pm
The Bread and Roses Theatre, 68 Clapham Manor Street, Clapham, SW4 6DZ
Tickets £10 I Concessions £8
This powerful one-woman-show is told from Yarl’s Wood Detention and Removal Centre for Women Asylum Seekers in England. Aaneseh recounts her horrendous and sometimes amusing journey as a teen refugee, pretending to be a boy, and all those she meets along her journey from Syria to England.