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The play focuses on three couples as they grapple with love.  Where did you get your inspiration?

For writing about love? Um I’m a bit of a romantic, so to start with I suppose that gives me an invested interest in the topic. Of course like many writers I drew inspiration for the characters from myself and people around me. Many of the nuances of the relationships are definitely from personal experience, I wrote the play when I was in a relationship and very much in love. At the early stages of the development of the piece, the relationship broke down, so there is no doubt that that influenced my writing and the piece as a whole.

It’s also a play about human conditioning.  What are you particularly highlighting in the play?

I would say that at the forefront would be genetic conditioning as the piece looks at behavioural patterns and whether they can be genetically passed on like a ‘pre-determined fate’. I’m interested to see if we are doomed or destined to repeat the same mistakes as our family before us, irrespective of environmental factors. The play also looks at gender conditioning, the character of the American soldier being an archetype of the stereotypical masculine and strong male figure. Then there is the environmental conditioning in the shape of addiction and of course social conditioning within our choice to marry or not and the problem of internalised homophobia.

What do you hope people will take away with them after seeing the play?

From my previous experience of talking to audience members, I think the beauty of this play is that people take away different things. As with any play certain people connect with particular characters more than others but I think what is special about Torn Apart is that because of the truth in the writing and the performances it moulds or fixes itself to the viewers life depending on what is happening to them that week or day; the same person could see this play more than once and depending on what is happening within their life, most likely within their familial and romantic relationships, they can feel completely different about particular moments or characters. I can also say that seeing four multidimensional female characters on stage, who all own their personalities and sexuality in a non-apologetic way is very refreshing to the audiences.

As a writer or director are you interested in any devices?  How do you work these into the plot?

I am definitely interested in subtext. What’s not being said and then trying to explore the result of that on the surface and how that comes across, it gives layers and juice to the characters. I love repetition, I’ve always been obsessed with repetition so in Torn Apart there are certain motifs, words, actions that happen with every character. As director of this piece I have been very interested in using expressive movement and music to convey the characters inner feelings. Also the performers relationship to object and space is something that I love exploring. The whole play is set in a cage so that brings for some interesting work. Music is crucial to my process and my productions, I want to collaborate with a composer on my next piece.

The play aims at putting women centre stage.  Why is it important to you to do this right now?

It’s always been important to focus on women in my work.  I am a feminist and the representation balance in theatre and art overall leans severely towards men. With this show right now, Torn Apart aims to put real women on stage; real female minds, thoughts and bodies, as oppose to the nuclear, expected prototypes that don’t actually represent the majority of women.

I also think that women centre stage right now is more important than we often realise because as much as we believe we are in a progressive society and we see a lot of forward thinking, equality and positive transgressors in London, whether that be in terms of LGBTQ+ or women’s rights or multiculturalism, the rest of the world is not all like that and for me that is a problem - don’t even get me started on Saudi Arabia. We also have a lot of negative role models for women who are in our face and in the media. Theresa May, Trump, Arlene Foster, to an extent the Kardashians. I hope in some way I can combat that. Also I have to add I grew up with a lot of strong women around me; my Mum, my sis, and a few other particular females that really helped me grow up into man I am as they taught me a lot and I always honour that in my work.

Are there other things in the play that are really important for you to express right now?

Definitely the female same sex couple storyline. That relationship is ridiculously underrepresented in theatre. Also sexual abuse, that’s always been a big one for me in this piece. I seem to explore abuse in a lot of the work that I do and I think whilst women and men for that matter are still being raped and domestic violence happens I will continue to talk about that in my art.

Finally, who is your favourite character in the play and why?

Um it changes. I love Erica because of her emotional maturity but then she is so impossibly flawed. She’s so unbalanced, which is what makes her such a great character. I love Alina’s forward nature and zest for physical and intellectual connection. Elliott is full of pure love and that is just beautiful and he probably metaphorically represents me in the play too. I also love to hate Holly, she is selfish, conflicted and fucked up. But yeah they are all my favourites at different times for different reasons.

 

TORN APART (DISSOLUTION) is at the Hope Theatre,  Islington 4 - 22 July 2017

 

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Photo credit: Yuebi Yang

 

 

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London Pub Theatres Magazine Limited June 2017

Torn Apart

         

           TORN APART (DISSOLUTION) by Bj McNeill

           The Hope Theatre 4 – 22 July 2017

 

          “I fell in love once. With the wrong woman”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Torn Apart 2 Torn Apart 3

 

Interview with writer and director Bj McNeill

 

Five star reviewed play transfers to The Hope Theatre - full of razor sharp observations revealing the pain behind true love.

 

TORN APART (DISSOLUTION)

The Hope Theatre, Islington

4 - 22 July 2017

7.45pm   £15/£12

Tues to Sat. No shows Sun & Mon

 

TICKETS

 

This is a love story. A love story set in three different times and three different bedrooms…

 

West Germany, Bremen, the early 1980s. The universities and cafés are full of young people who escaped from the East, the bars are full of American soldiers. Alina, a Polish literature student, bumps into one of them.

 

London, 1999. The turn of the century. Elliott, a young chef is dating Casey, an Australian backpacker. Whilst eating Indian food and listening to RHCP, Elliott talks to Casey about his orphanage and his love for her. She listens knowing that, sooner or later, her Visa will run out.

 

London, now. Holly married a perfect man, had a child and achieved her white picket fence fantasy but this is in the past now, for she has fallen in love with Erica, and she will do anything to rationalise her feelings.

bj