© 2019 by The New Current. 

UK Theatre Interview | 2019
"I mean if we reckon that most of the theatre ticket buying population are women over 40, you’d think the smart financial move would be to write more drama for that audience."
 
THE THUNDER GIRLS 
Dir. Joyce Branagh 
The Lowry | 24th–28th September
WORLD PREMIERE
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THE THUNDER GIRLS were a successful ‘80s girl band until lead singer, Chrissie, sensationally quit the Bandto pursue a solo career taking with her, Rick, the Band’s manager.  Chrissie broke the Girl Code as Rick was also the boyfriend of Bandmate, Roxanne.

 

Hello Joyce, great to talk to you about The Thunder Girls, how's everything going?

Really well- but it’s a very full-on rehearsal process for the cast – today we’re running scenes, recording tracks, doing dance moves and having a fight call – all simultaneously!  There are lots going on!

Ahead of opening night will there any nerves?

Yes!  I’ve never done a show where there weren’t any, but morale in the rehearsal room is high – we’re definitely winning.

What does it mean for you to be having your World Premiere at The Lowry?

The Quays Theatre is a perfect venue for the premiere of this show – and the Lowry itself has been really supportive of the whole production.  It’s also great to have a production opening in a theatre so close to home, and with such a fantastic reputation for launching hit shows.

Can you tell me a little bit about The Thunder Girls, what can we expect?

The reunion dinner from hell!  4 mates, long-held grudges, secrets, lies, cash and a catfight!

You have an incredible cast, was it easy to get them all on board this production?

I think the script attracted them – 4 great roles for women over 40 – all of them with a journey to explore.

What was it about Melanie Blake's adaptation of The Thunder Girls that connected with you as a director?

I love the fact that it’s a female-driven drama – and that there is so much humour in it – there are so many great one-liners.  Melanie really knows this world of pop and celebrity, and I think that means that the script really rings true.

"I think it gives me an understanding of how terrifying acting can be – the leap of faith that you have to take."

The Thunder Girls is likely to open up a much-needed conversation about the under-representation of women over 40, why do you think there has been so little discussion about this disparity?

I think we’re just starting to have those conversations… but it’s daft, isn’t it?  I mean if we reckon that most of the theatre ticket buying population are women over 40, you’d think the smart financial move would be to write more drama for that audience.  I think people are just starting to work that out.  FINALLY.  Speaking as a woman in her 40s, we want to see ourselves represented on stage – and not just as wives and mothers of more interesting characters…

What steps do you think can be done to ensure that there is credible change?

Putting on more drama with central fully rounded roles for women – and getting stories like this on to the stage.

Have you always had a passion for theatre?

No!  I grew up not really with any awareness of theatre… and we did hardly any drama at school.  But as my brother did plays at his school and I saw more, I gradually fell for it.  I didn’t do drama at college – even though I was quite keen by then – I was too scared.  So I did English literature – and then spent all my free time in the drama society!

Being an actor does your understanding of acting help you when you are directing? 

I hope so.  I think it gives me an understanding of how terrifying acting can be – the leap of faith that you have to take.  So I try to help the actors I work with achieve their best performance possible.

Do you remember your first role?

As a director, I directed a play called Handbags which was a new all-female comedy with lots of swearing!

How much has your style and approach to your work changed since you started out?

No idea – you’d have to ask other people.

For any emerging actor/director do you have any advice you would offer them?

Just try and do it.  Grab some actors and a play and get going.  You learn so much by DOING.

And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from The Thunder Girls?

I hope they have a bloody great evening, with lots of laughs, a few loud gasps and maybe a couple of moments when they might just find a speck of dust in their eye…