How can a young woman take up more space? Why should she? Director Lucy Atkinson is inspired to take and make space after working with Tatty Hennessy on her one-woman play celebrating polar explorers, A Hundred Words for Snow. Catch up below – and then get booking to see this acclaimed production before it finishes at the West End’s Trafalgar Studios on 30 March 2019!
A Hundred Words for Snow is a journey of epic proportions in every sense – through grief, adolescence and across the Arctic – as we follow Rory on her mission to get the ashes of her Arctic enthusiast dad to the North Pole, whilst discovering the full extent of the planet’s destruction and a lot about herself along the way. After success at VAULT Festival and on tour, Gemma Barnett reprises her performance as Rory.
Talking to… Lucy Atkinson
Both Tatty and I were raised on stories of polar exploration. My godmothers made sure I knew all about Ernest Shackleton’s death-defying heroism, whereas Tatty is more of a Fridtjof Nansen girl.
One unavoidable fact of these stories is the total absence of women. In writing A Hundred Words for Snow, Tatty wanted to redress that balance, placing a teenage girl in what is traditionally viewed as an expressly masculine environment, and in doing so to re-frame how we as an audience choose to view that environment.
One of the supreme joys of working on this show has been playing with the notion of what is expected of a teenage girl. So rarely in theatre (or in the world as a whole) are teenage girls’ narratives taken seriously. We spent a long time in rehearsal working to make Rory a fully rounded human being, complete with joys, sorrows, passions and desires, without ever losing sight of the fact that she is a “normal” 15-year-old girl, with all the anxieties and complexities that entails.
There is something magical about directing monologues. You have to serve as both audience and director in a totally different way to when directing shows with large casts. There is no fourth wall. You can’t make notes during scenes because your actor needs your eye contact. You have to be totally present in the moment for them. This breeds an intimacy and trust between actor and director that you simply don’t get in any other form of theatre.
When rehearsing one on one with Gemma Barnett, the lines between character and actor, between performance and conversation, began to merge. We wanted the play to feel conversational, for the audience to feel like they’re sitting in Rory’s room while she tells them her story, and my hope is that the intimate way in which the show was made shines through to all of you in the audience tonight.
A Hundred Words for Snow is, for me, a play about taking up space.
It is about finding the strength to stand your ground, be in your body, feel what you feel, without apology. It is about being aware of the world around you and choosing to make a place for yourself within it.
It is a play about how for too long women, especially young women, haven’t been allowed to take up the space they need. It is about how we all need to take care of this earth so that future generations can take their place here too. It’s about making space for adventure, for joy, for grief, and for growth.
A Hundred Words for Snow runs from 5 to 30 March 2019 at London’s Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY. Performances are Mondays to Saturdays at 7.45pm, with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 3pm. Tickets are priced £15-£30. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!