Alexis Gregory has been here in Norwich directing a brand-new production of his play Safe, being staged here as part of our Creative Matters season. During a break from rehearsals, we dragged him away to ask a bit about the production.
As a playwright, it’s your first time directing this play – what’s that like?
Yeah, it is my first time directing it and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve got a really lovely cast and a great assistant director as well. I’m following a really good example set by the play’s original director but I’m also changing that up and bringing in my own ideas. The cast are bringing in their own new ideas too, so we’re having a really good time with it so far.
You’re an actor – are you bringing that to bear on your directing?
I definitely think – I hope – that being an actor helps with directing. Obviously I’m aware of the process that an actor goes through, and I’m aware of the problems they may have. I’m trying to make things really clear for them, so I hope that my own experience as an actor helps me direct these other actors.
This is a play that deals with hard-hitting themes. What inspired you to address them?
A lot of my work deals with unheard voices, specifically marginalised voices from within the LGBTQ community. I’m really interested in the idea of theatre as a form of entertainment but also as a way of making a political and social statement. As well as the play being about gender and sexual identity, it’s also about education, family, addiction, religion, the system, falling through the cracks in the pavement so everything I write is multi-themed, especially in this piece.
How will this compare to previous productions?
We’re in a really beautiful space – this is probably the biggest one we’ve done the play in. We’ve done it at the Soho Theatre, the London Theatre Workshop in the city – and now this beautiful space here at Stage Two. There’s just a lot of new energy in the room and it’s interesting as the playwright to look at what’s happening in the room and see the new ideas that the cast all bring.
How are rehearsals going so far?
The cast have come together really wonderfully. From the very first rehearsal – which was really just a read-through and us blocking – they’ve been fantastic. I think there’s a real sort of energy in the room, they’re all so right for their roles, and they’re working really well together. All the dynamics between the characters are coming through really strongly, so I think anyone who comes to see the piece is going to be blown away by it.
Safe is here on the 28th and the 29th of September. Buy tickets now at Norwich Theatre Royal.