Niall Phillips is Artistic Director of Lonesome Schoolboy, currently directing upcoming play TURKEY by Frankie Meredith at The Hope Theatre
How do you turn a small studio theatre into an advantage?
The space doesn’t limit any idea, we do a play in here so long as we’ve got a team of actors, with imagination we could do it anywhere.
Are pub theatres the place for anarchy?
Yeah, because Michael Parker (Hope Theatre) or Scott Ellis (Theatre N16) and Gene David Kirk (Drayton Arms) - none of them limit your work, they say ‘go go go, do your work’ and that’s beautiful as a creative person. So long as they’re done with a story at the heart of it.
How are pub theatres helping with the higher prices and lower incomes?
Pub theatre is a unique thing you only have in London. If you went to see theatre tonight you could see 30 shows, and only pay a tenner or so. That’s incredible, pubs are the heart of that ideology, hear a story, interact, break hearts, only place in whole world that does that. America’s the nearest thing, but nowhere near as good. See a show every single night of the week and if that’s not incredible I don’t know what is, I love that.
Which other pub theatres would you like to work with and why?
Theatre 503 and ORLT. I have worked with them briefly on new writing or scratch nights. I’d like to take a full production over the next twelve months. They produce exceptional work that we can match now.
Do pub theatres do enough relaxed performances, or other?
This is a massive part of what we as a company stand for. At one of our performances people were eating chips, but the actors didn’t mind so we don’t mind either.
Is there something else you would like to see change?
Some pub theatres tickets cost £25, that’s quite expensive. Also, I work with young people who cannot get into some pub theatres because they’re under the age of 18.
Frankie, is it okay to label plays 'feminist' considering the number of theatre goers it might turn off?
I don’t know who is going round labelling plays but they should probably stop. Stick a label on anything and someone will have a problem with it. I am a feminist (among many other things) so ultimately what I write will promote equality for women but my play, Turkey, is about so much more than that. It’s also a ‘grief’ play, a ‘class’ play, an ‘East London’ play and a ‘funny’ play. There’s also a ton of food references so I’d call it a ‘foodie’ play too, appeal to the Great British Bake Off viewers.
Can plays about motherhood be cutting edge?
Of course they can! Someone becomes a mother every minute so I don't think there is anything more cutting edge than that. Hopefully the other themes the play explores and the various issues it addresses will make it more relevant to anyone who isn't becoming a mother at the very moment they are watching.
Madeline wants a baby, so a baby she will have. It doesn’t matter that she is in a relationship with a woman, or that they can’t afford the high private clinic fees, she’ll go about getting this child whichever way she can.
Now the Nuclear Family is no longer considered the norm, how far can Madeline go to get the babyshe so desires? And does it really matter who she has this baby with? People are manipulated, games are played and hearts ultimately shattered in this tale of one woman’s longing for a child.