Sophia goes Backstage! at Stand Fast Theatre’s R&D residency




Blog post by Sophia Moseley


Having been spoilt with all the fascinating R&D guests culminating in an end of week public performance, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when Katie Henry’s Stand Fast Theatre chose not to reveal the fruits of their labour. But after being allowed to watch a couple of outtakes plus talking to Katie and playwright Silva Semerciyan, I understood their rationale.

During their week director Katie, collaborated with playwright Silva and fellow actors Sandra Voe (who plays Olga), Anita Wright, Emily Tucker (who plays Alina) and Adam Foster to discover how Motherland might evolve.

Katie and Silva used their week to explore the key players along with the most important elements of the story. They dissected it with the help of copious amounts of post-it notes stuck on the theatre window, each one representing an extract from the play that determined its importance, and then pieced together the story a bit like a mosaic, creating the right image but possibly on a smaller scale.

But the tricky part is how to decide what stays and what goes,

“As I’ve been writing I’ve kept an eye on the structure,” says Silva.

They called on valuable input from the actors who soon got a feel for their roles giving their opinion on the strengths of the character; it wasn’t just about reading the part, they were experimenting with the impact of dialogue and different scenarios.

From the snippet I saw, Motherland is pretty powerful stuff as Silva takes us to the nuclear wasteland of Chernobyl and somewhere to call ‘home’, although Alina discovers her grandmother, Olga is anything but welcoming; and whilst it is still a work-in-progress, its imagery and ideology exposing the defiance and vulnerability of human nature gives a harrowing but heart-breaking look at a terrible tragedy.

“Our long term aim is to generate interest from producers and programmers so that we can have a stage production and this week has helped us onto the next phase, it’s a massive step forward and hopefully closer to our end goal,” said Katie and I for one, will look forward to its first night.