Tennessee Williams & Southern Belles at King’s Head Theatre
Assistant director for Southern Belles Aran talks to King’s Head Theatre about his experience in the rehearsal room.
This is your first show as a Trainee Resident Director at the King’s Head Theatre, how has it been?
It’s incredibly exciting that my first production as Trainee Resident Director has been to work on two ground breaking one-act plays by Tennessee Williams.
When I got the offer to join the King’s Head Theatre, I remember coming across Southern Belles and was so taken in by the production. I was hugely grateful when they told me I would be the assistant director. I love the work of Tennessee Williams but had never come across these plays before. Having the opportunity to work with a talented company of actors and creatives has allowed me to learn and develop through the work and ideas shared within the rehearsal process. Because Southern Belles is two one-act plays with separate casts, the energy of each rehearsal room has been very different. Something Unspoken has an air of quietness and calm in the room whilst And Tell Sad Stories of The Deaths of Queens has an energetic and playful atmosphere. I believe that this was due to the latter play being its second incarnation, with two actors returning to reprise their roles. Another benefit to staging two separate plays together was the parallels these stories share and how a spectator can draw the links between these two great works.
Favourite moment in the rehearsal room?
Tea Break! The weather was very nice during the rehearsal process so it was always nice to catch five minutes of sunlight. But aside from that, working on two separate plays at one time I have thoroughly enjoyed. The plays themselves speak so much depth and I truly believe that each spectator will perceive the work with their own interpretation. Having the opportunity to work on two plays with two separate casts is very rare and I really enjoyed being able to work with such a brilliant range of people.
Why do you think we still perform Tennessee Williams?
And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens was never performed in Williams’ lifetime due to its openly gay characters and that’s why I think it is vital these stories are performed today – we can’t risk history repeating itself. Revivals are incredibly exciting – they give you the opportunity to explore what the playwright had originally intended but also to find the deeper meaning through Williams’ layered and harrowing subtext. Tennessee Williams is widely regarded as one of the greatest playwrights in American history and his plays are an exploration into love and desire through the tragic beauty of human relationships – it’s so relatable.
What is your favourite line from the text?
GRACE: Music? Dishonest?
CORNELIA: Completely! It “smooths things over instead of speaking them out…”
These lines speak so much more than what is actually spoken and if that’s not subtext at its finest then I don’t know what is!
What’s a piece of advice/skill you’ll take from this process into other shows going forward?
This process has been my first professional casting procedure and I have learnt many lessons about casting moving forward. It is always great to meet actors from different backgrounds that have worked on different projects previously to this and understanding how their experience could shape the work you are trying to create.
Favourite ice cream flavour in the theatre?
I’m definitely more of a sorbet kinda guy, especially at this time of year. Who doesn’t feel refreshed after a Mango Sorbet?
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