Promising new company Missmanaged Theatre has a different way of doing things. As an all-female company Missmanaged, have set out to create a fully representational theatre, particularly focusing on taboo topics and under-represented voices. And that’s not all. We interview Artistic Director Rachel Harper (who is also the writer and performer of RATTLED) to find out more about this progressive company.
LPT: Hello Rachel, your debut play, RATTLED, explores childhood trauma and postnatal mental health. It’s described as a witty examination of mental health, self-preservation and human resilience. Where did the humour come from?
Rachel: I’m a big believer in using humour as a tool to engage an audience. I’d probably say that no matter how deep and dark a moment of my life has been, I inevitably try to find the humour in it! I think it’s the most human thing to do isn’t it? As a writer I want my audience to share moments of fun and laughter with a character… especially those ‘am I allowed to laugh at this?’ moments. It’s all about the balance of light and dark, and those fun grey bits in between.
Where did the inspiration come from?
The play was inspired by another woman’s story. She was part of a focus group for an earlier piece of work based on postnatal mental health. After watching it she got in touch and this led to her telling me of her darkest day, which became the inspiration behind Rattled.
You’re going further than most, by actively helping creatives and audiences with childcare. Sounds brilliant! Could you tell us more about it?
Absolutely! After working on a project that examined new parenthood I became acutely aware of the barriers and hurdles faced by working parents. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some incredible working mums and dads and so I knew that going into our first full run, we had to have support in place and create opportunities to make our show more accessible. We partnered with Bea&co. a fantastic childcare agency who will be providing one to one care for the children of any audience booked into our Sunday matinee show with a CHILDFREE ticket. We have also made our rehearsal room and schedule child friendly and we are providing free childcare for our director, Jemma Gross.
We imagined rehearsals might get very intense with Jemma directing you in this solo show (which is also written by you). Are there going to be huge differences of opinion?
Having worked with Jemma previously, I can safely say there is no one I trust more with this project and working with her is always a pleasure. We are heading into this in quite a relaxed way, scattering day rehearsals throughout January – one actor can be quite intense to rehearse! We are also opening our rehearsal room doors to any creatives looking to explore the writing/directing/producing side of things. With a one woman show it’s important to keep the room busy so there is always someone to bounce off.
What has been the hardest part of your journey from page to stage?
I’m probably testing fate here, but the whole journey has been a pleasure. I have the most fantastic team behind this and when you’re surrounded by these powerhouses, you really can’t complain. If I had to say anything it would be funding. Getting funding is brutal and disheartening especially after multiple ACE rejections! But we worked (and we worked bloody hard) to raise the necessary funds and I’m proud to say we did it. If theatre is only made by those with money at their fingertips, theatre becomes a very small window into a very small world.
And the most amusing?
Having Jemma’s two-year-old daughter in the room makes most days amusing! She is hilarious, and I highly recommend having a toddler present at every production meeting. Last week we broke up a heavy text-based day with several games of ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’…
In addition to childcare you are also able to offer audiences some other fantastic special offers. Could you tell us more about this?
Happily! As an emerging company we understand the hurdles faced with regards to programming, producing, funding and all those other fun bits…So we are running short workshops after all our Saturday Matinees for those interested in creating their own path in this industry. This will be facilitated by myself, my producer Catherine Chalk and director Jemma Gross and comes totally free with the ticket! As Catherine and I met working front of house we are also offering discounted tickets to front of house workers. To add to this, we’re running WAGE GAP WEDNESDAY – at which any female identifying audience member get an 18.4% discount on their ticket, as this is the national gender wage gap average and we want to start some vital conversations! (Anyone more outraged by our wage gap discount than by the actual gender wage gap needs a quiet word with themselves…)
This is your first full length play but you’ve had other plays performed. Is there a theme running through them all?
Aside from a socio-political satire of mine, I would say human resilience is the running theme. I’m obsessed with programmes like ‘I survived’, seeing what the mind and body can withstand never fails to amaze me and so I think that is a big part of my writing. And of course big meaty female roles!
Do you find that you are very much in tune with the Old Red Lion Theatre?
Katy Danbury is a fantastic AD and her ethos regarding gender balance and accessibility are all very much in line with our company. As for the play itself, The Old Red Lion has been a home and a launch pad for so much new writing that I immediately felt it was where Rattled should be.
Finally, what are you most looking forward to sharing with audiences?
A relatable, funny and eye-opening story that is the culmination of one woman’s brutal and brave honesty on the stage, and the incredible talent of a brilliant group of women off it.
Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, London EC1V 4NJ
12th February – 2nd March 2019 7pm
Ticket prices: £12.50 to £14.50 Concessions apply to BECTU, SDUK, Equity, job seekers, students & over 65s; £8 for front of house staff, £20 same day double ticket with IN SEARCH OF APPLAUSE (running after RATTLED)
Box Office: Call 0333 012 4963 or book online at:
FREE CHILDCARE: Missmanaged Theatre have teamed up with the Bea & Co. creative child care agency, to provide FREE childcare for two hours to parents attending the Sunday matinee performances of RATTLED. We have a special, cosy area in the theatre reserved just for the children, so whilst you're seeing a brilliant new play and having a drink after with your friends, your kids will be downstairs having their own day-out, supervised by the superb creative sitters of Bea & Co. Simply book a CHILDFREE ticket and leave the rest to us. Any questions, please get in touch at email@example.com
Childcare FAQS: https://www.missmanagedtheatre.com/childfree-faqs/
FREE WORKSHOPS: Short workshops after all Saturday Matinees for those interested in creating their own path in this industry. This will be facilitated by Rachel Harper, producer Catherine Chalk and director Jemma Gross and comes free with the ticket.
CONTENT WARNING: We don't want to give too much away about the show but if there are certain themes you would feel uncomfortable or distressed by that you're concerned may feature in this production please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'd be more than happy to discuss it with you.
@January 2019 London Pub Theatres Magazine Limited
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