Georgia, what’s the story?
Sheep follows Dexy who hasn’t been to sleep for 22 nights, and is trying to get clean of his newfound Night Nurse addiction in the constant quest for some shut eye. It all takes place in his flat in those dead hours of the morning when you feel like you’re the only person in the world who’s awake.
What’s it about?
Insomnia, friendship, guilt, depression, love, hallucinations, sex parties and the number 32 bus.
What attracted you to work on this play?
The script, pure and simple. I read the first draft around a year ago and was hooked instantly. I had to make this play and I’m so excited to finally be doing it!
Could you tell us something about the history of the play?
Having spoken to David (the writer), it comes from his being a very poor sleeper. There’s something very eerie and quite magical about the small hours where anything feels possible and everything is very quiet, but also incredibly threatening. I get this impression that David saw those hours quite often and was drawn to writing about it - hence Sheep was born!
Are you working with David?
He’s closely involved in the show - he helped with a lot of the casting and is really supportive of my vision for it. As a director, it’s really exciting for me to be able to work alongside such a talented and interested writer.
Given, its set at night time, how does this affect your directorial choices?
If anything, I think it broadens the possibilities. As I’ve said, that night time magic kind of means that anything is possible and gives me the ability to really play with reality in a way that you just don’t get with, say, a kitchen sink drama. The beauty of this piece is that the audience can’t always be sure of what is real and what isn’t which gives myself and the company so much scope for play and invention.
As a director, which influences will you be bringing to bear for this play?
I’m always influenced by other directors I’ve worked with or enjoyed. At the moment, a lot of my influences are coming from directors who are really pushing the scope of theatre and what you can do with an audience to put on a show. I really enjoy the work that Ned Bennet has done recently, like Pomona at the National and An Octoroon which is still playing at the Orange Tree Theatre, and am hoping to bring a similar excitement and intensity into the room that he manages to achieve in his work.
We think Cantor’s writing is ace, but we’re sure you could give a better description of what it’s like to work with the script?
The script is a dream to work with for me and for the actors. The lines are written with such a joyful eloquence and wit that sits so comfortably with an actor and fits the characters to a tee. It’s so exciting when you’re given a script with which you can hit the ground running and just enjoy making something incredible.
You have just finished directing James Bonney MP (White Bear Theatre 20 June – 8 July). It sounds a hectic schedule, how do you do it Georgia?
Managing the two projects has been hectic. I’m lucky that I’ve had so much support from various producers and the other White Bear Theatre staff because otherwise I think I’d have lost the plot at some point. I adore being busy though, and to have two such brilliant projects back to back has been incredibly rewarding. It’s important in this industry to take what work you can, but it’s important to realise your limits and to look after yourself - I think some artists can get caught up in the moment and take on too much. If you can though, it’s amazing to be working so solidly in theatre only a year after graduating from drama school.
Finally, as associate director at White Bear Theatre, what kind of journey has that been?
My attachment to the White Bear has been utterly invaluable to my career and I’ve loved every minute of it. Michael Kingsbury (the artistic director) is an amazing mentor and is so supportive. Equally, it’s my dream to end up running a theatre some day so having this insight into all aspects of the theatre - from directing shows to running the website and everything in between - is just incredible. It’s been a lot of hard work which is hugely rewarding, and now I get to direct this incredible piece of theatre in the beautiful new performance space and it’s all worth it. Long may my relationship with the theatre continue, it’s such a wonderful place to be.
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London Pub Theatres Magazine Limited
SHEEP by David Cantor
18th July - 5th August 2017
WHITE BEAR THEATRE
138 Kennington Park Rd, SE11 4DJ
''London's a fragile flower, she needs darkness to make her grow, not sunlight. When night falls, she blooms. All kinds of sh*t goes down on her watch".
Sheep - a nocturnal comedy for our time that flits between dreams and reality and rational thinking and insanity.
It’s been twenty-one nights since Dexy last slept. It could be down to his choice of pillow. Duck Down. It could be down to the heating in his flat. Nonexistent. Or it could be the fact his girlfriend’s missing, the police are scouring the streets and Dexy’s past is catching up with him.
Ensconced in his third floor flat, over the course of an evening Dexy attempts to cast his mind back and fit the relevant pieces together, but as the blare of the sirens gets louder and night turns to morning the lines between dreams and reality and rational thinking and insanity become ever more blurred.
As if this wasn’t enough, Dexy is visited by three very different people during the night.
Georgia Leanne Harris is associate director of the White Bear Theatre. Her recent directing credits include James Bonney MP (White Bear Theatre), Top to Bottom (White Bear Theatre) and Beetles From The West (Plymouth Barbican).
Over the past ten years David Cantor has worked on a variety of shows including three of the BBC’s most successful sitcoms, My Family, Two Pints Of Lager & A Packet Of Crisps, and The Green Green Grass.
David also wrote the dark comedy Noddyland, which was entered into Channel 4’s Comedy Blap season last year and has contributed to sketch shows including BBC’s That Mitchell & Webb Look, children’s programmes such as CITV’s My Phone Genie and CBBC’s Fit, and supplied material for the anarchic game show Shooting Stars.
Away from Television David has written three stage plays. Stopping Distance had a full cast read through at the Old Vic and is currently in development at The Park Theatre. I Play For Me was performed at the White Bear in Kennington in 2015.
Ciaran Lonsdale and Niamh Watson in rehearsal (photos by Georgia Harris)