How did the writing of a 15-year-old become, years later, a hotly anticipated VAULT Festival production Apple? Writer and performer Cheryl Ndione explains in the interview below. Time to book your tickets!
The continent-crossing tale, staged by The Upsetters and Purple Moon Drama, runs from 21-22 February 2020 at The Vaults.
Apple charts the story of Rosemary Clark as she goes on a quest of self-discovery from slut-drops in the Trocadero back to rural Jamaica. It’s a comic and introspective look at a less-than-rosy mother and daughter relationship.
Rosemary is desperate to have a moment of truth and connection, and decides her mother’s wedding day is the perfect occasion. She relives the moments that inform her choices. The story charts an emotional pilgrimage across international borders punctuated by lucid reflections that both inform and traumatise in equal measure in an ode to the plight of the diaspora.
Apple writer Ndione is one of the Tamasha Playwrights 2019/20 and has previously had work staged at the Arcola Theatre, Park Theatre and The Space. She also founded youth theatre company Purple Moon Drama, which produces one show each year for young audiences. Simone Watson, who directs Apple, is a director, trainer/facilitator and founder/director of social enterprise Dramatic Momentum, which uses theatre techniques to empower socio-economically disadvantaged young people to grow in confidence and help them find employment.
Co-producers The Upsetters make theatre written, directed and performed by artists of colour. They aim to address representation on and off the stage while being accessible to diverse audiences. In an effort to make Apple as accessible to all as possible, the production is being performed in a wheelchair accessible venue, performances are “relaxed” for neurodivergent individuals or those with sensory impairments, captioning is provided in partnership with the Difference Engine, the Black Ticket Project is providing eight free tickets per performance and there is a baby-friendly matinee.
Cheryl Ndione tells us about Apple
Where did the inspiration for Apple come from?
The inspiration came from a bit of writing from when I was 15 years old. The became a 20 minutes short, and now it’s been extended and turned into a full length fiction.
Why did you feel it was an important story to tell?
It’s important because I’ve seen a lot of the Mum and Daughter as besties relationship but not much that explores what happens when this relationship is difficult and messy and complicated. I thought it was important to get into it and probe some psychological truths.
You’re starring in a piece you’ve written. How was it working with director Simone Watson and what has she brought to the piece?
It’s been amazing working with Simone. She just gets it. She literally fully understands it without any explanation and she clearly has her own vision for it. I feel like I’m in very safe hands.
How are you feeling about staging Apple at VAULT Festival?
I’m feeling nervous and excited. I’m knackered but running off pure passion. I needed to get this story out of my system. It’s been lingering for a while and it needed to be completed. I’m thrilled it’s a full piece now.
You’ve gone to great extents to make the play as accessible as possible. Why is that so important to The Upsetters and to you?
Inclusion is important. I think it should always be carefully considered. As standard.
Are there any other shows you’re excited about seeing at VAULT Festival?
Yes. Jollof Wars & Patricia Gets Ready.
What can audiences expect from a trip to see Apple?
Comedy and Angst.