Ahead of Grotty opening at the Bunker Theatre in less than a month, I was lucky enough to shoot some quick fire questions across to the production’s director, Hannah Hauer -King. Hannah’s previous directing credits include Lilth (Bunker Theatre), Fury (Soho Theatre) and Dead Playwright (Old Red Lion Theatre). She is also artistic director and co-founder of Damsel Productions.
Grotty runs at The Bunker Theatre from 1st May until 26th May. For tickets and more information please visit https://www.bunkertheatre.com/whats-on/grotty/about
HS: What can you tell us about Grotty and how you came to direct the production?
HHK: Grotty is a new semi-autobiographical piece by Izzy Tennyson, grappling with vivid characters and key issues within the East London lesbian scene. The play primarily follows the protagonist Rigby, an early 20s recent uni graduate coming to terms with her sexuality. Catapulting through often substance fuelled hook ups with older women on the scene, she finds herself ensnared in an incestuous love triangle/web of lesbian hook ups and relationships. The play bravely explores grief, mental health and trauma, all through a perhaps unexpectedly satirical and biting tone that exposes the barriers we put up, gay or straight, to survive in an often cruel and taxing social environment.
The journey to coming to direct the piece has been a long one, actually starting back to when Izzy and I were working on Brute back in 2016. Izzy was speaking to me about a piece she had been developing about the lesbian community, based on personal experiences and things she had perceived on the scene. I was captivated by her ideas, and seriously keen to work on a piece that would re-address the evident imbalance of stories about the queer female experience versus those centred on gay men. Izzy has written the piece over the two years since, receiving the dramaturgical support of myself and Soho Theatre, with the ultimate intention of bringing this exciting piece to life through Damsel.
HS: What made you want to assemble this incredible cast?
HHK: The casting for this show was unpredictably difficult – we saw countless talented actors but the play’s style and feeling was so specific. But we were lucky in finding actors with a fantastic grasp on character acting, comedy and a willingness to dive into the deep end. As a multi-roling piece, it was crucial for us to find actors able to jump into different characters without the protection of extreme costume changes or make-up. We luckily found that as an ensemble Grace, Anita-Joy, Rebekah and Clare were the actors up for this exciting task.
HS: How collaborative was writer Izzy Tennyson in putting together the production?
HHK: In terms of the production, I think two crucial moments of collaboration was the mutual decision to embark on the show as a primarily multi-roling cast, as well as veering from naturalism to the more heightened/stylized tone of both the script and production as a whole. Another exciting moment of collaboration was her shared interest in bringing the show to a new and rapidly growing venue such as Bunker, a venue with an inspired vision and unique atmosphere that I think will be an asset to the production.
Thanks so much to Hannah for answering my questions.
Until next time,