MY INSPIRATION: Floorboards director, Katy Weir | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Dark comedy Floorboards, at Alphabetti Theatre from Tuesday 7th-Saturday 18th May, is brought to audiences by Steve Byron, the writer who found success through Walter and Bacon Knees & Sausage Fingers. The play explores complex relationships and themes of power, submission and friendship.

Director Katy Weir gives an insight into her working practices on Floorboards, and what inspires her to create moving, thought-provoking and eclectic theatre.

As co-artistic director of Darlington based new-writing company ODDMANOUT I am always on the lookout for new scripts that are rooted in representing real people. I stray away from the words relevant and relatable, because who am I to decide that, but I mean theatre that sounds like real people talking, that asks real questions that we can connect to, and that allows us to connect and empathise on a human level and that is where the conversation around Floorboards started. 

Having worked with Steve Byron on Chilli Sauce – a touring kebab van sharing a set of stories from those who frequent the kebab van at 2am – I was struck by his capacity to write how people speak, to write with such heart and humour, and to write a world that sucks us in and spits us out. Floorboards felt necessary, it felt like a world we could all relate to, not the character’s actions per se, but his thought process, and his wanting to say what he really thinks on the inside. It was also funny, I love working with dark humour and I think it is really rare to come across a well-executed script that is steeped in comedy. As a writer, Steve is open and honest and therefore to work with him as a director is a pleasure. We share a common goal which is to mould the script as we go in whichever way is best for the production and I feel you are in for a treat and that is why Steve would be one of my inspirations. 

Without giving too much away about Floorboards, my way of making theatre has been inspired by so much: 

Mixing the natural with the surreal: 

Developing my practice inspired by the likes of DV8, Gecko, Complicite, and Frantic Assembly my interest in mixing naturalistic and non-naturalistic continues to grow. After all, surely that is the joy of making theatre in being able to suspend our disbelief! I like to combine how we use our bodies with what we are saying. So, you will find moments in Floorboards where you wonder what is happening, but rest assured it will unfold. 

My Time at the Market Theatre Laboratory, Johannesburg: 

In 2016 I undertook an exchange with Clara Vaughan, director of The Market Lab. This experience has led to a lifelong friendship, cultural exchanges across the globe, and an appreciation for what I’m capable of and the work I want to make. Their training is about being a theatre maker and working in an extremely collaborative manner. Developing skills that enhance all your being as an artist. This is definitely something I strive for in the rehearsal room.

ODDMANOUT community theatre company: 

Sometimes in this industry I think people can be a bit horrid and moany. We have undertaken a number of projects with our community company, who have created such high quality work in a range of theatre styles. Their dedication whilst holding down full-time jobs is always an inspiration to me and gives me a kick up the bum when needed. 

I love watching theatre. This week I saw Equus directed by Ned Bennett and I’m still thinking about it today. I love the way he creates and allows us to invest in the naturalistic world mixed in with an abstract physical and architectural language. It also empowered me to go with my instinct to create a piece of theatre I enjoy and am proud of. I hope you enjoy too!

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