Got your tickets yet for the world premiere of AFTER THE BALL? the follow-up to Time Productions’ inaugural production of Abi Morgan’s Tiny Dynamite runs from 7 to 24 March 2018 only at London’s Upstairs at the Gatehouse. In our head-to-head interview, writer Ian Grant and director Nadia Papachronopoulou talk about their working relationship, the nature of time and the importance of gender equity onstage.
Ian Grant’s new play explores how our acts reverberate down the generations. Inspired by a true event in 1918 and an unresolved family memory, AFTER THE BALL is a gripping ensemble piece, spanning sixty years, about desire, personal responsibility and the devastating repercussions of human conflict.
London, 1914. As the Great War breaks out in Europe, Blanche and William meet at a dance and marry. They share a political passion for peace, but William enlists to fight in Belgium. Amidst the horrors of the battlefield, he finds love with another woman, while Blanche is left at home with their baby.
Nadia Papachronopoulou (Unrivalled Landscape) directs an ensemble cast comprising Jack Bennett, Mark Carlisle, Stuart Fox, Elizabeth Healey, Emily Tucker and Julia Watson. The production is designed by Natalie Pryce, with lighting by George Bach, sound and music by Chris Drohan.
AFTER THE BALL was shortlisted for the Terence Rattigan Society New Play Award 2017. Highgate playwright Ian Grant’s previous stage writing credits include Stella Europa (Hen and Chickens) and the libretto Thomas Boleyn (Yvonne Arnaud). Grant co-founded Time Productions after a successful 40-year career in publishing.
Ian Grant… on the play & Nadia
Through the stories of the characters, I try to express in AFTER THE BALL some of my core beliefs – we are what we do; what we do can never be undone and our acts have ripple (or explosive) effects long after the act itself; women and men are entirely equal; individual and state violence to other human beings is unforgivable.
The script attempts to tell the story of the characters through naturalistic scenes within a formal, abstract, poetic framework. The play moves backwards and forwards in time from 1914 to 1971. The arc of the story is emotional, not chronological. The actors have to be highly flexible and shift their sense of older and younger selves sometimes in instant transitions across time from scene to scene.
I try to write rich new leading roles for older actors, and particularly older female actors. I stick to the principle that we have at least equal numbers of women and men in the cast. I hope that in AFTER THE BALL all the actors will find the roles meaty and satisfying.
I’m delighted to have met Nadia Papachronopoulou and to be working with her as she directs the play. Nadia is a young Greek director who has already worked extensively in British theatre, and she brings to this British story her woman’s insight and her European sensibility. In her reading of the script, she has found things that I didn’t know were there, under the surface. She is the conductor to my composer and will enrich the script through rehearsal with her high energy and artistic skill.
Nadia Papachronopoulou… on the play & Ian
As a director, I find that establishing a creative relationship with a writer is an incredibly inspiring process, as together you create entire worlds, tackle issues, and build characters that engage and entertain an audience. I am particularly interested in directing new writing, as I am in being a part of something fresh that hasn’t been done before, which intellectually and emotionally challenges me to examine rigorously my own practice as an artist.
I believe the director is an interpretive artist who unpicks the words on the page and examines the relationships created on paper. Theatre is all about working collaboratively and taking the written word and making it live and breathe in a theatrical space.
What struck me most when I first read AFTER THE BALL was the interplay between the characters and how the family ties evolve through the play. For me, the play’s challenge and beauty lies in the fact it spans sixty years, so the actors, the audience and myself really get to explore the core of the characters’ development through the course of their lives, ranging from their twenties to their sixties.
I am fascinated by the representation of women in the play, specifically in the mother-daughter relationships and how complicated and delicate they are. It is very interesting to see the different generations of women in the play and how they shift and change through time, as the play starts in 1914 when women in Britain did not have the vote and goes to the 1970s when women had gained greater independence. The female characters (and the effect the shifting social and political dynamics of the twentieth century had on them) are of paramount importance to this play.
AFTER THE BALL runs 7 to 24 March 2018 at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Gatehouse pub, Highgate Village, London N16. Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Sunday matinees 11 & 18 March at 4pm, Saturday matinees 17 & 24 March at 3pm. Tickets are priced £10-16. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!