Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Andrew Maddock and Niall Phillips: In/Out (A Feeling)

By | Published on Thursday 7 January 2016


The latest play to head to The Hope Theatre is ‘In/Out (A Feeling)’, written by Andrew Maddock (he of ‘The Me Plays’) and directed by Niall Phillips. The show explores London’s sex trade and human trafficking, via the experience of two different individuals living through different situations, but with a definite connection – a feeling.
To find out more about the piece, I put some questions to both the writer and the director, ahead of the upcoming run.

CM: Without giving too much away, can you tell us a bit about what happens in the play? Where does the story take us?
AM: ‘In/Out (A Feeling)’ is an exploration into the mind sets of two people who are both trapped in their own individual situations. It’s not a boy meets girl play, it is very much about their individual journeys and how they cross over.

CM: What themes are covered in it? What points does the script try to make?
AM: The play delves into attitudes towards the sex trade and the story of a person who has no choice but to be part of it, the mis-education that can lead people on a night out into an establishment that sells sex, and how easy and under our noses it really is.

I’m very big into first world problems. We’ve all got something going on, but I feel that sometimes we don’t realise how lucky we really are to be in the society we are in, and how easy it is for people to interact with the dark underbelly of it with absolutely no thought of the knock-on effects of engaging with it.

CM: Andrew, what made you decide to write a play focusing on this particular subject matter? How did you go about creating it? How did you gather the source material together?
AM: I saw a play at Theatre503 a few years ago called ‘Elegy’. It was by a company called Transport Theatre, it focused on the plight of gay Iraqi refugees, and it was the first piece of theatre that genuinely moved and educated me… There’s a world outside of ourselves.

But I also wanted to find a different angle, somehow, so I looked back at my own life: I’m 31 years of age, I’ve had an interesting time, I’ve worked with and met some interesting characters, I’ve seen things, heard things, stories, other men’s opinions on situations and the callousness of their conversation, and that all feeds into this work.

I’ve watched and read the testimony of women who have been affected by trafficking, and an awesome charity called Unseen UK, who support victims of human slavery, have read the script and endorsed it.

CM: How did you come to be directing the play, Niall? What attracted you to it?
NP: I get itchy and nervous when I’m not involved in something creative, something that I can grow and learn from. So I sent a call out to writers, writers’ sites and friends, etc, saying to send my company new plays. I got loads of scripts, and was very excited, so I drank loads of tea and got reading.

I knew of Andrew from ‘The Me Plays’ already, and after giving ‘In/Out’ a read one Sunday morning, I called him the same evening: such was my immediate adoration and love for the piece. We did a few workshop in early summer and now we are here.

CM: It’s an emotional subject, and one that’s potentially pretty political – does the show have an agenda?
AM: Not so much an agenda, but I feel it’s a tool to highlight what I feel are very current issues. I’ve always been interested in attitudes to sex in today’s evolving, disposable world, and I’ve touched on it in my previous work.

Politically, I feel the piece is very relevant: look at the situation in Syria right now, the displacement of people; you can guarantee that there are going to be men and women out there looking to use people who are lost and looking for somewhere to feel safe. We want to trust people, don’t we? But I feel as the years have progressed and technology has allowed us to become closer, we are actually losing our humanity somewhat.

CM: You are the founder of Lonesome Schoolboy Productions, aren’t you, Niall? What made you want to set up your own company? What are your aims?
NP: I set up LSP six years ago. I was hungry and passionate to make work – new work that I could discover, and get out there – show people I was worth checking out. I’m not a lucky guy, so making my own work was the only option.

I work with five youth theatres in and around London, and I met eager, driven and talented people that needed a voice, as I did. So I got a space, put on work, got a buzz going and learned what I was good at, focused on that. Along the way, I’ve made some mates, stolen some ideas, and mostly make work my Mum thinks is good.

CM: What’s next for ‘In/Out’ – do you hope to see it developed further?
NP: Let’s see. We both love to develop these works, and this play I believe in, so who knows. I just came back from Broadway and fell in love with its theatre world, so you never know.
AM: I honestly just hope that people come and soak it in. I’m sure the piece will evolve in my mind as the weeks progress, and will I learn from it coming alive for an audience, but right now I’m looking at the road directly ahead of me.

CM: What’s coming up next for both of you? Are you working on new projects?
NP: I am in talks to CDS drama schools to take over as head of acting in the spring, which would be ace. Also, I am directing an Abi Morgan play in March and finally working on a Kate Tempest play in April.
AM: I’ve just finished writing my first piece for the screen. It’s only a short, but it’s going to get made, by hook or by crook. I’ve also got some theatre scripts that need polishing off – I’m always keen to work in a room with actors. They inspire me.

‘In/Out (A Feeling)’ is on at the Hope Theatre from 12-30 Jan. See the venue website here for more info and to book tickets.

LINKS: | | |