Writer Issy Flower and director Jacob Freda discuss their upcoming online production of The Interview, released on 1st June 2021 with Buttered Toast.
The story of a tv star and a playboy of a by-gone era, whose veneer of stability and stagnation is pierced by a young reporter interviewing him.
Meet Peter Newberg: a 60s tv star, recording artist, playboy. But that was a long time ago. Now Peter rides out his days smoking and drinking in his run-down California apartment – until he is confronted by Liz, a young reporter who asks questions too close to the truth and threatens to tear down Peter’s poorly constructed self-image forever. At turns funny, tender, and heart-breaking, ‘The Interview’ is a play that examines themes of celebrity, sexual liberation, and historic prejudice against the LGBT community.
I originally wrote The Interview in my first year, in the middle of a ’60s phase, so really the credit for the play should go to Noel Harrison, Paul Simon, Anthony Newley and Peter Wyngarde. Their lives – filled with glitz and glamour that eventually rubbed off, leaving a sour taste in everyone’s mouth – were incredibly fertile ground for writing and mostly unexplored. So too was the explosion of high camp, highly stylised television of the period, which cast three of those individuals into primetime for a few years before they disappeared into obscurity, remembered only occasionally for a song.
These contrasts gave me the impetus to explore what happens in the gap between ideals and reality, how we view the past and its impact on us, and whether we are really as “radical” as we’d like to be. The relationship between Liz and Peter, central to the play, focuses these themes through the lens of modern youth and fossilised youth, respectively. Both characters are equally set in their ways and unable to grasp much more. The question isn’t so much what they can gain from each other; it’s more if they can gain anything at all.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching this play be brought to life by the production team and cast, with literal sweat and tears (the curse of the DST sofa strikes again). They’ve imbued it with a verve and style that should hopefully, unlike Peter, stay the course.
By Issy Flower.
When I agreed to direct The Interview, having never directed anything before, I was under the impression that, like World War One, it would all be over by Christmas. Eight months later, and here we are.
In all seriousness, directing this play has been a true privilege. I’ve been able to work with two brilliant actors, Jack and Eleanor, whose natural chemistry has taken their performances to another level.
I’ve also been dragged to the finish line by an ever-obliging prod team. Elise Garcon has proved invaluable as my AD. Meanwhile, our producers, Issy Flower and Emily Cliffe, have made sure that the play actually happens by taking care of all the practical matters that my fragile creative brain couldn’t handle. Of course, we have our tech director Charlotte, who stepped in with just a few days’ notice. Ryan, our Filming Director, deserves commendation purely for spending 6+ hours of his life editing the film with me, where it became apparent I had no idea what I wanted it to look like.
Am I being modest? Perhaps. I did have to direct the bloody thing, after all. But what this experience has taught me, more than anything, is that you are only as good as the people on your team. So, my advice to other first-time directors: surround yourselves with hard-working people, and don’t ever schedule morning rehearsals. Because if you schedule them, you have to attend them.
By Jacob Freda.