Jamie Jackson is a theatre director, some recent credits include: Skint (Vaults Festival), Alice through the Looking Glass (Iris Theatre), as well as shorts Care (Arcola Theatre) and CoalEaters (Theatre503) both by Phoebe Eclair-Powell. In March, he directs WINK, Phoebe’s debut full length play – we chat to him about his vision for the production.
What has been the process behind developing WINK?
Phoebe and I started talking about our first full length show in 2013, having worked together on a short play BANGIN’ WOLVES previously. I was offered time with Old Vic New Voices to develop a play, and invited Phoebe to join me. We later participated in 503Futures, a programme providing writers with a weeks’ development and showcase. Tara Finney subsequently came on board as producer, and 503 as co-producer and venue. Phoebe and I have spent the last six months developing the play with dramaturg Graeme Thompson, researching the play’s subject matter alongside redrafts of the script.
We knew we wanted to create a show that dealt with the impact of the internet/social media on young people and wanted to be an exciting, visceral and properly theatrical experience for the audience.
What challenges does the script contain in staging?
WINK is unique in that it contains no stage directions – a daunting but equally very exciting challenge for a director! The only stage direction in the script is “This play should be performed with movement and sound.” I consider myself very privileged that Phoebe has placed such trust in me as a director and given me such space to put my own stamp on the play.
How will you tackle the play?
I started by asking myself three questions. What should it look like? What should it sound like? What should it feel like? I knew that I wanted to find a language that could convey the interior world of the characters as much as it could the exterior, as the majority of the play is told in internal monologues. Phoebe and I both knew that we wanted to tell a story about computers and phones without using computers and phones, to use a less conventional but still accessible way of telling the story. We want to make the ordinary seem extraordinary, and ensure that it feels immediate and relevant to the people whom the play is actually about, yet still worked as a heightened dramatic experience. We want it to feel contemporary not just in subject matter, but the way we present it on stage.
I’ve since watched a lot of research material that shares thematic concerns with WINK, or approaches telling contemporary stories in bold and interesting ways. From this, I created two moodboards; one a collage of images and a film version including music.
Please click here to watch the film version.
“This play should be performed with movement and sound.” How are those two elements going to feature in your production?
I have worked closely on the physical language of WINK with the Movement Director, Isla Jackson-Ritchie, and we have focused on using movement to articulate what goes unsaid by the characters. What they are thinking but not necessarily saying out loud. I also want to use it to differentiate between the online and offline world; that the impact of their adventures in the internet has a real and physical impact on the characters.
Working with Sound Designer Max Pappenheim, we want the music in the production to articulate how the characters are feeling. For example, when Mark goes for an incredibly fast and thrilling run, we want to use music that creates that sensation in the audience – to mirror Mark’s adrenaline rush. The music we are working with isn’t necessarily recognisable but feels contemporary and relevant to the world of the play.
Isla, Max and I will work closely together throughout the rehearsal process to tie the elements together.
Can you share with us your plans for the set?
Our designer, Bethany Wells, has created a playing space that has qualities of an arena, which adds to the competitive, tactical side of the narrative. We wanted to make a space that felt purposefully cinematic, to allow us to draw the audiences’ eye toward particular images that inform them of the focus of each scene.
Lighting will play a large part in informing the audience which location we are in throughout the show. Working with the lighting designer, Aaron J. Dootson, we decided that whilst we won’t have computers on stage, the design will feature the familiar glare of a computer/phone screen and isolate them on stage from each other, reminding us of their continuing disconnect from the world around them.
Thanks. We’re really excited about creating something that challenges what’s possible in fringe theatre, and creating something unexpected.
WINK runs from 10 March to 4 April at Theatre503
For more information on the show & to book tickets click here