VAULT Festival | 2020
"As soon as I read Martha's script I felt how truthful she touches on the subject of abuse in a respectful and caring way."
Kaleya Baxe, Angelina Chudi & Martha Watson Allpress
Patricia Gets Ready (For a Date With The Man That Used To Hit Her)
5th - 9th February at 20:40 pm
Patricia Gets Ready (for a date with the man that used to hit her) is an honest, funny and heartbreaking look at what it is to recover from trauma. Aiming to shatter the weathered stereotype of the 'broken woman,' this show presents a survivor, in all her colours.
We talk to director Kaleya Baxe, performer Angelina Chudi & writer Martha Watson Allpress'.
Hi guys, thanks for talking to TNC, how are things going?
Angelina: Things are going very well! We've just finished our 1st week of rehearsals and it's all very exciting.
Are you looking forward to be bringing Patricia Gets Ready to VAULT Festival 2020?
Martha: Definitely! Being surrounded by so many other, phenomenal artists makes you really keen to bring your A-Game. Plus, it just felt great to come back together as a team; Kaleya and Angelina are so wonderful; I want to work with them all the time, and our new producer, Khai, is an utter dream. It's going to be a really fun, chaotic week.
Any nerves ahead of your shows run?
Angelina: Of course, I'd be worried if I wasn't nervous. We've had two runs of the show before which had both been very well received so we know we have a winning recipe but you still can't help those little feelings arising.
Martha: I feel so much more nerves as a writer because I've not really got a process for it? But it's so out of your control; people have different tastes, not everyone's going to like your voice...all you can do is put your work in the hands of people you trust and be proud of yourself for that. So that's what I'm focusing on.
What do you hope to gain from your time at Vault Festival?
Angelina: I'm so immensely proud of this show and I'm just so grateful for the opportunity to be able to share it with a larger audience.
Kaleya: Just a wider audience reach. I have so much belief in the importance of this show and it's message and I hope that more people get to see it and learn something new or be inspired in some way.
You had a phenomenal run during your debut at White Bear Theatre in London, what do you think it was about Patricia Gets Ready that struck accord with audiences?
Angelina: The writing is incredible - so sensitive, funny, heartbreaking. It was just the perfect combination of writer, director and actor who all believed in each others abilities and supported each other endlessly. And I believe that came through during performance.
"It's a joy to perform because it's the perfect play to explore, push and really show what I can do as an actor."
With this being your first full length play what was the experience like for you to see your play get such a welcome reception?
Martha: People were so kind! It was quite overwhelming. I thought the audience was going to be my parents, my boyfriend and me, so to see total strangers there was an other-worldly experience. I just felt, and still feel, really grateful. To have my first play on in such a supportive environment, it definitely gave me the confidence to keep writing and exploring.
Kaleya: As a director, you mostly learn through shorter scratch performances, so doing a full length play was so scary. I feel so blessed by the reaction we've had and only hope it means I've managed to do the piece justice by getting as close to the truth as possible.
Your second play is going to debut at the Bread and Roses Theatre in April, can you tell me a little bit about this?
Martha: Eek, yes! So that is 'The Line of Us' directed by Naomi Denny and produced Lauren Budd. It's five women on stage; none of them interacting and all just chatting about different topics. It's all a bit abstract and whirly and bendy but I just wanted to try and attempt to put the sisterhood, as it were, on stage. Like, I love women and I think there's this real unnameable solidarity that comes with just existing on the planet as a woman, so I wanted to try and see that on its feet. It's only on for two nights; I'll watch it, see what works and what doesn't, then hopefully we'll have it back up on its feet later down the line. Naomi is adding in some movement work to it too so that should be really cool.
Kaleya & Angelina: what was it about Martha's text that connected with you as a director?
Angelina: It's just everything you want in a single piece of text. It's such a beast of a play, it traverses through so many different emotional moments so seamlessly. It's a joy to perform because it's the perfect play to explore, push and really show what I can do as an actor.
Kaleya: As soon as I read Martha's script I felt how truthful she touches on the subject of abuse in a respectful and caring way. I've been involved with one of our partners, domestic abuse charity Tender, since I was 14 and they equipped me with knowledge that allowed me to see how common it is for young people to experience unhealthy relationships. I see so many of my family and friends in Patricia and being able to spread an insight through our medium of theatre is very powerful.
What has the experience been like for you working on this play?
Martha: Truly the best way to start as a writer. There's something about this team that just feels like all the right people at the right time. Everyone's so gentle and delicate with the show, but also so hard working and so focused. It's been a dream.
Angelina: It's been wonderful, being surrounded by such supportive people really allowed me to thrive. After our first run at the White Bear I felt invincible - like there was nothing I couldn't do.
Kaleya: Incredible! We're all a team of emerging artists who are passionate about this play and there's nothing lovelier than creating a baby together.
How important is it for you as theatre makers to create shows that are female focused?
Martha: I definitely want to; I've always felt most comfortable, and most supported, in a room full of loud, bossy, fiery, rude, kind, generous woman. That's not to say male focused stories are unimportant or less valid, they've just been told already. That's a sweeping statement, but what I mean to say is that things really do feel like a shift could be happening somewhere soon, real change, and you can't affect change by regurgitating the same old stuff.
Angelina: I think it's very important. Women have a particular experience in this world that for so long had been deemed as not important, or not important enough. And I mean by ourselves, we censor ourselves, we shrink, we brush over what we're feeling because it happens so often that "that's just the way things are" or "someone else probably has it worse than me". But it's so important that we as women realise our power, grab it and fly with it.
Kaleya: The gender and diversity balance in theatre still has a long way to go, so any ways we can show people that this industry is for them is important. To me, it's really important that we have black women cast in parts that are not racialised along with shows that are more specific to our experience. Our industry often likes to make out that it's hard to find plays they can cast black women in but it's important to remind people that white people can see themselves in a black character the way that black people are often expected to do so the other way around.
"But I'm lucky, my parents and step-parents are all quite creatively incline, and they're really big readers."
Can you tell me a little bit about Patricia Gets Ready, what can we expect?
Kaleya: Expect to meet a hilarious character who you can't help but love. There's no real set or props, just her. Her thoughts, feelings, side of the story. Expect to laugh, a lot, but also sad. The play does describe some moments of abuse so be prepared for that and please look after yourself! And expect to leave with a helpline card and a little self-care treat to take home with you!
Did you have any apprehensions about creating a show that dealt with such a powerful and salient issue?
Kaleya: Absolutely. It was really important to me that we didn't fuel any harmful or untrue stereotypes surrounding victims or perpetrators and that we leave the audience with an empowering message. We also understand our responsibility to look after our audience, hence why we have partnered with organisations like Tender who have donated their helpline cards, and others like Candy Kittens Gourmet Sweet an World of Self Care who is creating a self care calendar for us. We wanted to give something kind for our audience to walk away with each night.
Angelina: I wanted to do it justice. I wanted to get the balance of the light and darkness of what Patricia went through and how she now relates to it once on the other side right. But ti be honest I wasn't majorly worried about it because I trusted Martha's writing and Kaleya's direction.
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
Angelina: Yep! Every school play, assembly, after school club I was there doing my thing. Even back then, the thrill of getting up in front of a bunch of people and just playing got me going every time!
Martha: Well, I'm from Lincolnshire in the East Midlands, which doesn't really have a thriving theatre scene. But I'm lucky, my parents and step-parents are all quite creatively incline, and they're really big readers. I always had to read before bed, so I think I fell in love with books and stories before theatre, and it sort of grew from there.
Kaleya: Pretty much but especially in school where you get the chance to play and create new and exciting work! I've always believed in the power of theatre as an alternative tool for education and a way we can learn to empathise with those marginalised.
Moving forward will you continue to create shows that have a female focus?
Kaleya: Until there is balance in our industry, I will always make shows that enlighten somehow on how gender and race effects are experiences.
Angelina: Yes, definitely. Obviously not only shows that have a female focus but my experience as a woman, as a Black woman, as a Black British woman and all the other complexities that make me, me, I think is a very exciting thing to explore through theatre.
Martha: I've got two more shows on this year, both have all female casts, female producers and female directors.
Do you have a favourite theatre quote?
Martha: Anything Lucy Prebble has ever tweeted.
Angelina: Gilbert and George created a 10 Commandments to creating art.Two that I particularly like are "IV Thou shalt reinvent life." And " IX Thou shalt not know exactly what thou dost, but thou shalt do it."
What has been the best advice you have been given?
Angelina: "Angelina, face front!" Basically, run your own race, don't compare yourself to anyone else because you'll drive yourself mad. My time is coming.
Martha: I just finished reading a book called, 'First We Must Make The Beast Beautiful,' all about accepting your anxiety. I didn't get on board with all of it but this one thing really resonated; the idea that a lot of today's anxiety comes because as a society, somewhere down the line, we sort of ditched philosophy. So we internalised all these big questions like 'what is my purpose in life?' 'what is the meaning of anything?' 'why do things happen?' No one person can handle a question of that magnitude, so I think it's time to start asking them out loud again.
Kaleya: Be yourself! The more confident I become in liking who I am, the more people in the industry seem to be interested in me as an artist and my work. And always, always, do work for yourself first and foremost. Your passion will show in the work, and therefore lead to its success.
And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Patricia Gets Ready?
Angelina: A sick ass play!
Martha: That empowerment is not the destination, it's the road to something new.
Kaleya: I hope they gain a deeper understanding into what it's like for someone who has been in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. The confusion of love and violence together and why it's difficult for people to resist going back to their partners and finding independence. But also, we're surrounded by survivors who are normal funny people and whose relationships do not define them.