Interview: Adam Quayle | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Theatre director Adam Quayle takes his new play, Under Three Moons to the Live Theatre in Newcastle from the 25-26 Oct. Brought to you by Manchester theatre company Box of Tricks, the new play looks at male friendship, our perception of masculinity and how our attitude towards men’s mental health has shifted over the years. We catch up with Adam to find out more.

Tell us more about ‘Under Three Moons’. What is it about?
Under Three Moons is a brilliant new play about friendship and growing up. Over the course of three nights – set ten years apart – we follow the friendship of Mike and Paul and all the different challenges they face at different ages; from boyhood to manhood to fatherhood. It’s a funny and honest portrayal of how men relate to each other.

What do you hope people will take away from the play?
The response from audiences on the tour so far has been incredible. First and foremost, people have been entertained. Whilst the play looks at the big questions we all face in life, there are plenty of laughs; like many men, the characters use humour as a tool. At the heart of it, the play is a platonic love story and we want people to go on that journey as the characters move through the world.

The play is written by Daniel Kanaber, how did this collaboration come about? What was he like to work with?
I directed Dan’s first-ever play, Anything of Worth, over a decade ago. We met at drama school – where Dan was training as an actor and I was training as a director – and hit it off personally and professionally. I’ve directed a number of his short plays over the years and we commissioned him to write a new play through our New Tricks programme a couple of years ago and Under Three Moons was the result. The play is a beautiful, nuanced reflection on male friendship.  As a playwright, he’s incredibly detailed and character-driven – his dialogue really flies – and he understands human nature and what makes his characters tick. It’s been a joy to work so closely with my friend on this play about male friendship!

You are the co-founder of Box of Tricks, a Manchester theatre company discovering, nurturing and promoting the next generation of playwrights. Why and how did you set the company up and is there any up-and-coming playwrights we should be keeping an eye out for?
Box of Tricks was set up over 13 years ago to give playwrights a platform to tell the stories they wanted to tell. We moved up to Manchester from London over seven years ago and have established ourselves as proud Northerners! We work with amazing playwrights through our early-career PlayBox programme and our New Tricks commissioning model. The truth is there are far more brilliant playwrights out there than we can possibly hope to champion. Our next production will The Last Quiz Night on Earth by North East playwright Alison Carr next Spring. Watch this space!

The play focuses on the shifting view of male identity and our attitude towards men’s mental health. Why do you think masculinity is currently facing an identity crisis and are you hopeful things will change for the better?
I wouldn’t say it’s an identity crisis so much as a long-overdue conversation about gender roles in society. Under Three Moons takes place across three nights – in 1999, 2009 and modern-day – and the shift in attitude in those twenty years has been huge. From the swagger of lad culture in the nineties to the supposed ‘metrosexuality’ of men in the noughties to the current climate of toxic masculinity, those societal influences are a backdrop to the scenes and definitely play their part in the characters’ inability to talk or properly open up. I am hopeful for the future. It feels like a conversation has begun and there are loads of incredible charities – Andy’s Man Club, Samaritans, Mind, CALM – doing incredible work to help men to talk but there’s a long way to go. Suicide is still the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. That’s a pretty stark fact.

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