Peter Taylor directs Dan Horrigan’s new play Still I See My Baby, set in a dystopian future, as part of this month’s Wandsworth Fringe festival…
Directing a world, a future dystopian world, was one of the major challenges and highlights about directing Still I See My Baby. I’ve never done anything like it before, especially in such a short time frame, but when I read the script, I couldn’t wait to play with the possibilities within it.
Straight away, for me, the main character of the piece that I wanted to focus on was the ‘world’ of the future. Even though there are characters in the play, they are then presented as “Man” or Woman” and so there is no linear story line, or character’s journey, for the audience to follow. The play comprises of episodes showing the audience what this world is like in different formats and that aspect intrigued me. It was then creating and establishing this world, the rules, the technology, the development of the government, social classes and how genetics are used as a commodity that was crucial in rehearsals and was in constant discussion. I have to give tremendous credit to my cast who delved in head first and helped form the world around them, as each rehearsal we discovered something more about the piece.
When first reading Still I See My Baby, the episodic scenes for me showed the benefits and the decline of human emotion; it showed the strive for more in compensation of morality and others who were hopeful but were afraid of their legacy. Each scene provides a different scenario of this world and reminds the audience of the ethical question through, love, class, religion, language, sex and many more.
Ultimately at its core, the play presents a variety of questions to the audience: nature versus nature. Free will and determinism. Ambition and the price of morality.
Dan had purposely written no date for these events and at first it seemed like this was a world which wouldn’t be seen in my life time. But the more we analysed and discussed the play, I realised that this was actually not too far away. From that discovery, I made a conscious effort to make the piece relatable; that there were no flying cars or that aliens had suddenly landed! The sounds and costume of the people are familiar and even though at times the dialogue can be quite disjointed, it’s still understandable to us.
It’s exciting and yet equally disturbing to explore and create a world like this. When human ambition drives us so much (almost to the point of being God), I wanted to show what this world had lost in exchange of that power. How connection in human beings was very primal and procreation and therefore partnership was determined by their genetic makeup in order to further benefit their children’s advantages for their future. How the desire for perfection effectively makes abnormalities a sin and so new born babies lacking ‘perfection’ are unashamedly thrown into the river. It screams of past events within history and the goal for a “perfect” society and how they will do anything to achieve a better world for tomorrow.
Ultimately at its core, the play presents a variety of questions to the audience: nature versus nature. Free will and determinism. Ambition and the price of morality. Yet the piece in all its dark possibilities, poses an interesting question of what makes us truly human.
As part of the Wandsworth Fringe 2017, Still I See My Baby runs at The Arches at St Mary’s Church, London on Saturday 6 May 2017 at 2.15pm and Tuesday 9 May 2017 at 6.30pm.