Chloe Yates’ new play A Rat, A Rat premieres this week as one of the flagship productions at south London’s new Golden Goose Theatre, where it continues until 28 August 2021.
We talked to artistic director Georgia Leanne Harris about the play, leading an all-female team and launching a brand-new theatre during a pandemic.
In A Rat, A Rat, Charlie has just turned 18. Whilst most would be out enjoying their newly-found adult liberties, Charlie is stuck in a white room with a bed without sheets, a window that doesn’t open, and a rat.
She has to adapt fast to this new, sterile world of the adult psychiatric unit if she is to convince anyone that she is well enough to go home to her waiting mum, Vicky. Under the care of her over-worked and under-trained key worker Jenny, Charlie learns quickly that she is pretty much on her own. Until Kim turns up.
The cast comprises Rose Reade as Charlie, Fiona Tong as Vicky, Andrea Johannes as Jenny, Lou Kendon-Ross as Kim, and Marina Nunes as The Rat.
A Rat, A Rat runs at the Golden Goose Theatre, 146 Camberwell New Road Camberwell London SE5 0RR, with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £15 (£12 concessions). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
How did the Golden Goose Theatre come about?
Our executive director Michael Kingsbury stumbled across the Golden Goose on the way to visit his mum in a care home. Seeing the immense potential in the space, we immediately knew it could be something special and the Golden Goose was born.
How difficult has it been launching a new theatre during Covid?
It’s been really tough, we launched in October 2020 and as such have been open and closed three times so far! It does mean we’ve honed our Covid safety practices and are still currently choosing to keep social distancing and face coverings in our venue, to protect patrons and our performers and staff. But also, it’s been lovely to be able to be putting on shows after quiet periods, and opening shows that have been rescheduled so many times is so rewarding, when they finally emerge onstage.
What is your vision for the theatre?
A bit of everything! We’re trying really hard to create a varied programme of really great quality work, and have done our best to be financially accessible to the companies who perform here. We offer free rehearsal space where we can, and have had several companies in for R&D free of charge. We also currently don’t charge hire fees, and offer a 60:40 box office split in the companies’ favour. By doing this, we hope that companies can concentrate on making great theatre, and really explore their work, rather than only being able to worry about the financial costs of putting on a show.
What attracted you to A Rat, A Rat?
The script is just beautiful. Chloe Yates, the writer, sent me the script in response to our first open call last October, and I immediately fell in love with it. It has everything I look for in a script – amazing characters, fantastic storytelling, and some weird bits! I knew it was just the thing to be the Goose’s first full in-house show, and I think it showcases some of the wonderful things we can do with the space.
The play boasts an all-female cast and creative team.
How important do you think this is?
As a female Artistic Director, it was really important to me in the first instance to get female writers into the space, as we still see such an imbalance in writers in big venues. When I read this play, with an all-female cast, it just didn’t make sense to bring any male voices into the project, as there weren’t any in the script.
I think it’s always important to make room for female voices, and in searching for people to fill these roles, we’ve got a huge database of female creatives across all fields, which we can use to fill roles in the future.
The creative and rehearsal process has been an absolute joy, and completely calm and focused – I suppose we can draw whatever conclusions we want to from that!
Any anecdotes from rehearsals?
The whole rehearsal period has been wonderful, and really open and collaborative. But one moment that stands out was a few days before the end of the rehearsals where we decided to do a ‘fun run’ of the script, rather than a serious one. Watching the actors perform this glorious script in the style of a film noir, or a Noel Coward play, or a farce, was definitely a highlight!
Why should audiences see this play?
And why visit the Golden Goose Theatre generally?
A Rat, A Rat is so full of heart. It’s about how we look after each other when institutions fail us. I think it’s uplifting and speaks to the parts of us that are hurting. There are moments we can all relate to after our experiences over the last couple of years.
The theatre is a welcoming, new space, and is somewhat of a hidden gem in the London theatre scene. The space itself is really cool, with a lot of history. The staff might just mention some of the things the space used to be, if you ask them nicely!
Should we come early for the pub?
Definitely come early for the bar – it’s a really cool pub, and the drinks are surprisingly cheap! Definitely take advantage of one of the last remaining sub-fiver pints in London before (and after) the show!
What do you want audiences to take away from A Rat, A Rat?
A feeling of joy, of support, of togetherness. I think the play really showcases ways we can support each other when we need to, even if we feel like we’re constantly fighting our own battles. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s heartwarming – and I think we all need those moments of shared emotions with strangers after going so long without them. And finally, we hope audiences find a new favourite London theatre that they’ll want to come back to again and again!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just that, after the pandemic, it’s been an absolute joy to be creative again, and working in the rehearsal room with all of these phenomenal women has been a dream come true. I’m so proud of what we’ve all achieved in this time, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for everyone.