INTERVIEW: Spotlight On… BLUSH director Edward Stambollouian

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Following a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival, the award-winning BLUSH will now be transferring to the Soho Theatre and embarking on a UK tour. Written by Charlotte Josephine, BLUSH tells five candid stories about revenge porn and its many victims. Exploring why society has a desire to shame and how we allow this to happen, BLUSH shines a light on the secrets we attempt to keep in the dark.

Here’s an exclusive interview with director of the piece, Edward Stambollouian:

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Ed. Tell me about the piece and your vision for it.

BLUSH is a new two-hander written by Charlotte Josephine. It’s performed by Charlotte, and by Dan Foxsmith (who are both founding members of Snuff Box Theatre). The piece is about shame, the internet and image based sexual violence. It follows five individual stories of people caught up in spirals of shame and looks at how we deal with that emotion in the internet age of instant gratification. Our production of the play hopes to access the feeling of shame, and put the actions of shame under the microscope. Why do people use violence to deal with shame? How is shame inherited, or passed on? How can we stop that self-perpetuating cycle? How do we break away from shame?

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

BLUSH follows five people through their own individual experiences of shame, revenge and sexuality. Charlie plays three women and Dan plays two men. I hope each member of the audience will find themselves drawn to a different character and will connect in some way with their struggle, with their understanding of sex and sexuality.  I hope we are challenging the audience to confront the shame in their own lives, and how, even on a small scale, they deal with that on a daily basis. I think the play will also allow people to question their relationship with the internet. It’s certainly had an effect on me and changed the way I interact with the online world.

Did rehearsals alter your initial thoughts, at all?

When I first read the play I was sort of terrified! The structure of the writing, the playful chaos of the storytelling, the quick-fire multi-rolling; it all seemed like a massive challenge. I love it when plays put me outside my comfort zone, but I couldn’t see the production in my head. That scared me. We started with a week of research and development on the play. I met with Dan and Charlie and started to workshop what the language of the piece might be. Working with the two of them got me excited. Charlie is a badass. Her writing is fierce, politically charged, poetic and often wicked funny. She has a lot to say and she isn’t afraid to say it. She wants to get her audience thinking; she wants to make them angry; her plays are a call to arms. Her plays buzz with vitality and theatricality. They’re challenging but damn good fun…

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

Value for money…it’s five shows in one! Charlie has written five fascinating characters and BLUSH mashes them together in an exciting, action packed hour. Not to mention our brilliant creative team (design by James Turner, sound by Harry Blake, lighting by Seth Rook Williams and movement by Polly Bennett). For lovers of Charlie’s last play (Bitch Boxer) this is a must see, and for those that haven’t seen her work before this an opportunity to catch a brilliant young voice with a lot to say!

Finally, any advice for budding directors?

Try everything once. As an emerging director it often feels like you’ve got to be “the director who does those types of plays”. It’s really easy to get pigeon-holed. I find it creatively stimulating to constantly put myself outside my comfort zone and to always try new things – at least once! It’s how I’ve found myself directing stand-up comedy, radio plays, devised work, storytelling and, most recently, an international YouTube tour! You always learn something from each project, and even if the lesson is – “I don’t want to direct any more Opera” – at least you’ve found that out.

Thanks to Ed for a great interview, Break A Leg wish you well with the run.

 

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