Head-to-head interview: Anything Is Possible…’s Cordelia O’Neill & Sacha Voit on #HeForShe & opportunities for female playwrights

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Two new plays – Anything Is Possible If You Think About It Hard Enough and Boots – form the centrepiece of Small Things Theatre Company’s season of female-focused new work at this year’s VAULT Festival. We talked to their writers, Jessica Butcher and Sacha Voit, about their inspirations, challenges for female playwrights, #HeForShe and the proposed #BossyBuyout of the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Check out our interviews – and then get booking via the links below!

Anything Is Possible If You Think About It Hard Enough, which is written by Small Things’ co-founder Cordelia O’Neill and directed by Kate Budgen, opens the season this week, running from 21 to 25 February 2018. Boots, which concludes Small Things’ Vault season, running from 7 to 11 March 2018, is co-written by Jessica Butcher and Sacha Voit, directed by Lucy Wray and co-produced with Butcher and Dee.

The plays are complemented by two major fundraising events in aid of the international #HeForShe campaign for gender equality: a “What Actually Helps?” debate (on Friday 9 March) with a star-studded panel of experts including Robert Webb, and the company’s acclaimed variety night (on Saturday 10 March), including new contributions on the subject by leading playwrights such as Simon Stephens and Tamsin Oglesby.

Anything Is Possible If You Think About It Hard Enough | VAULT Festival 2018
21-25 February: Anything Is Possible…
If you could end unhappiness with a simple equation but it meant forgetting all things that made you sad, would you? From the writer and director of No Place for a Woman comes this new tale of love, loss and grief. Alex and Rupert were destined to meet in Cafe Nero. They were destined for happiness but happiness tripped up. Anything Is Possible If You Think About It Hard Enough is written by Cordelia O’Neill and directed by Kate Budgen.
BOOTS | VAULT Festival 2018
7-11 March: Boots
When it looks like Fred Astaire has burnt down Boots the chemist, Willow nows that something is seriously afoot. She braves the wilds of Lynx Africa, talking trees and infertility to find an unlikely friend in Liz as she tracks down the truth. Boots is a new play about ending the silence that would keep even Ginger Rogers on her toes. It’s written by Jessica Butcher and Sacha Voit and directed by Lucy Wray.
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In conversation with… Cordelia O’Neill

Cordelia O’Neill

What’s Anything Is Possible… about in a nutshell?

A man trying to solve unhappiness.

What was your initial inspiration for Anything Is Possible…?

I feel ‘Happiness’ is thrust upon on us so often these days through the media and social media. I worry that, with so much focus on being happy, we forget about unhappiness and sadness, and we lose the ability to be able to deal with the curve balls that life throws at us. Meaning that, when we do feel sad, we feel like even more of a failure. Happiness and unhappiness work side by side we need one to understand the other, to understand each other and ourselves.

Why did you want to present Anything Is Possible… at Vault Festival?

This is a first outing of Anything is Possible… The only way to see if theatre works is to get it up on its feet and Vaults is an affordable safe space in which to do this.

Do you think there are enough opportunities for female playwrights? Why/why not?

No, I don’t. I think there aren’t enough opportunities for women in all walks of life anyway, and theatre has limited opportunities for just about anyone involved, so being a woman in theatre is a double challenge. Women and men have different skills and I think the world is shaped around the skills of men. We celebrate drive, creativity and sensitivity in men, but with women we question those behaviours and see them as weaknesses.

To be a playwright or an actress or a director or really any job in the theatre biz, you have to have drive, creativity and sensitivity in bucket loads and then be very good at hiding them. Up until very recently, I’ve felt that, in order to carve a path in this industry, I have to wait to be found and hide my passion. Otherwise, I might seem arrogant. That’s not the case. We women need to shout loudly and stamp our feet and support one another when we do so. I feel the tides are changing ever so slightly, but there is still a lot of work to do.

What do you think of 1) #HeForShe? 2) the proposed #BossyBuyout of the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket?

So exciting. MORE OF ALL OF THIS PLEASE.

A group of female creatives are raising money for a #BossyBuyout of the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket

In conversation with… Sacha Voit

What’s Boots about in a nutshell?

It’s about an unexpected friendship and rebelling against being silenced.

What was your initial inspiration for Boots?

Standing behind a woman in a queue buying Tena Lady Discreets and wondering ‘what’s her story?’

Why did you want to present Boots at Vault Festival?

The Vault Festival is a brilliant testing ground for new work, with an amazing collaboration of artists. Our play is that!

Do you think there are enough opportunities for female playwrights? Why/why not?

The #MeToo campaign shows that, while we may legislate against sexism and abuse, there is still work to be done on the cultural practices that silence women. Theatre holds fantastic potential to combat that.

What do you think of 1) #HeForShe? 2) the proposed #BossyBuyout of the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket?

The future is about how we share power, politically, personally and professionally. All efforts like #HeForShe to tackle inequality must be embraced for their merits. The notion of the #BossyBuyout is exciting. Where there’s a will there’s a way – let’s do it!

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Press Releases on Twitter
Press Releases
MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.