Ahead of the UK premiere this month at the West End’s Trafalgar Studios, Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon catches up with director Jonathan O’Boyle, whose other recent work includes Dear Brutus, Pippin and Hair. Got your tickets yet?
Tell us a bit about the play.
Rasheeda Speaking is a new American play by Joel Drake Johnson. It follows two receptionists in a Chicago hospital. Their consultant surgeon boss asks one to spy on the other to gather enough evidence so he can fire the other colleague. It’s a bold, dynamic and provocative play touching on racism in the workplace and the wider political landscape in America today.
How did you first come across the script?
I was introduced to Rasheeda Speaking by the producer, Troupe’s Ashley Cook. He was keen to produce the UK premiere of the play and asked me to read it. I instantly fell in love with the play and characters. That was about 18 months ago.
What did you initially think when you read it?
I loved it! Joel writes brilliant dialogue. Plus it’s a cracking play with three fantastic female lead parts. I also loved the subject matter – its contemporary viewpoint of modern America and its examination of race and diversity.
What stood out most that made you want to direct Rasheeda Speaking?
The two main characters. Jaclyn (Tanya Moodie) and Ileen (Elizabeth Berrington) are fantastic characters and I couldn’t wait to get into the rehearsal room to explore them with these two brilliant actors.
What can audiences expect from the production?
Audiences can expect an entertaining, funny and provocative evening at the theatre. Trafalgar Studios 2 is such an intimate space, so they will be up close and personal with our brilliant cast – Tanya Moodie, Elizabeth Berrington, Sheila Reid and Bo Poraj.
And what can audiences learn from the play?
We should never judge people. This may sound obvious, but the play examines our differing viewpoints of peoples’ lives and backgrounds. I hope people will see that we never truly know what is going on in someone else’s life. Kindness and compassion towards each other is fundamental.
Rasheeda Speaking runs from 18 April to 12 May 2018 at London’s Trafalgar Studios 2, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 3DY. Performances are Mondays to Saturdays at 7.45pm, with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 3pm. Tickets are priced £15-35. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!