Caro Meets Festivals Interview Theatre Interview

Annie Davison: Good Day

By | Published on Friday 3 March 2023

You probably won’t be that surprised to find out that we have another Vault Festival Q&A for you this week, given how much we love said festival. This time we are focused on ‘Good Day’, a play with an intriguing premise set in the fairly distant future.

It was created by playwrights Daniel Bainbridge and Cam Scriven, and is staged by director Marlie Haco’s company Double Telling. To find out more about the show, and the creative team working on it, I spoke to performer Annie Davison, who plays Zara.

CM: Can you start by telling us a bit about the content of ‘Good Day’? Who is it about and what story does it tell?
AD: ‘Good Day’ is set in 2555 in a seeming utopia where death has been eradicated via a chip that is inserted into everyone’s wrists. People live forever and spend their days pursuing their passions and interests whilst advanced AI do the jobs and labour. Everyone’s happy.

Except Zara. Zara’s not happy. Zara’s 530-something and she’s bored to death. ‘Good Day’ focuses on Zara’s bid to kill herself in the post-death era. In order to die, she must first undergo a year of weekly therapy sessions with a robot, Alex, and convince her she’s making a considered decision.

CM: What themes are explored through the play? What does it want to say?
AD: ‘Good Day’ focuses on the ways in which the characters Zara, Alex and Joe – Zara’s partner – are forced to confront mortality.

The play reflects on how it is the transience of life that gives it meaning; it asks, when we lose the certainty of death, do we also lose what it is to be human?

I think everyone will get something different from seeing the show though. It also explores themes of friendship, love, human connection and what it means to be ‘happy’.

CM: What made you want to be in this and what do you love about it?
AD: I saw ‘Good Day’ performed at Drama Centre when one of the playwrights, Daniel Bainbridge, directed it and fell in love with the story, the characters, and the amazing performances of the original cast.

I love how the play grapples with dark themes, but explores them in a humorous, light and accessible way.

I later had the pleasure of meeting Marlie Haco, resident director of the Hampstead Theatre, who was at this point preparing to direct her own production of ‘Good Day’. I was immediately excited by her vision, particularly her focus on using movement to enhance the piece.

I was thrilled to get the part. I love how Marlie has integrated a lot of tech into the show in order to bring the futuristic, hyper-digital reality of the play to life on the stage. I’m constantly amazed by the work of our incredible creative team and how they are realising Marlie’s concept.

Finally, it’s an absolute pleasure to be able to perform at the Vault Festival, albeit bittersweet knowing that this may be the last Vault ever. The Vault Festival is so important to showcase new work and emerging artists, so being a part of this legacy really drew me to the project.

Hopefully #SaveVault will be successful, as it is heart-breaking to think that others won’t get the opportunity I’ve had.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the playwrights?
AD: ‘Good Day’ is written by Cam Scriven and Daniel Bainbridge, who first started writing a draft of the script when they had just left school.

They completed a version of ‘Good Day’ when Daniel was in his final year of the directing course at Drama Centre, and Cam was completing an MFA in voice at Bristol Old Vic. Daniel then directed that version of the play for his final piece at drama school.

Since then, Marlie has worked with the writers to develop the text into what we are performing at Vault Festival this week!

Daniel is now working at a motion capture studio in London, while also being the Co-Artistic Director for the theatre company Take My Word, alongside Lauren Carter. He was the Assistant Director on the hit musical ‘Operation Mincemeat’, and has been writing for his own theatre projects.

Cam is a writer and is also currently in Barcelona teaching voice training at a top drama school there. He is a dialect coach and has worked on projects for the National Theatre and Leeds Playhouse.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your fellow cast members and the creative team?
AD: I’m really lucky to be working alongside such talented actors. Olivia Barrowclough, who plays Alex, brings real playfulness to the role and it’s been a joy to see her develop a real personality for this android.

Sam Newton has completely embodied the part of Joe and he is always a delight to play against. I’ve really enjoyed improvising scenes with both of them – they are such spontaneous and naturally hilarious actors.

The company is led by our director Marlie, who has worked with us on every detail to craft the words and the movement for the production. We also have an incredible creative team supporting us from offstage.

Ákos Lustyik has written a beautiful score for us to move to, whilst Dan Light, Alex Forey and Justin Nardella have masterfully created the world of the play around us through video, lighting, set, props and costumes.

We also have our wonderful stage manager Ellie Carney who has the huge job of running what is a very complicated and technical show – so huge love and respect to her too.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about what the rehearsal process has been like?
AD: Led by Marlie’s excellent direction, we have focused on building the world of the play through creating backstories, timelines, maps and discussing the impossible question of what it would be like to live forever.

We have also done lots of improvisation around the scenes, which has been very fun and imaginative, and has helped us to ensure the characters exist beyond the words on the page.

As this show incorporates a lot of tech, we’ve also often had our creative team in the rehearsal room assisting us with music and video. You’ll see more of what I mean when you see the show!

Other than that, Marlie likes to really use scene transitions to continue to tell the story and explore the connection between the characters, so much of the process has been dedicated to working on the movement sections.

It also means I’m developing serious muscles from throwing the furniture around throughout the rehearsal day, so win win!

CM: How did you come to be working in the arts? Was this the career you always wanted? How did it all begin?
AD: I always knew that being a performer was what I had to do. It was just the figuring out how to do it that was the tricky part. Everyone’s journey to being an actor is different.

For me, I grew up in a very rural town in Northumberland. After school, I went to university where I studied English. After that I moved to London and worked in recruitment to save up enough to pay for drama school fees.

I got into Drama Centre on the BA acting course which is where I first met Daniel, coincidentally.

CM: What have been the highlights of your career thus far?
AD: Honestly, I only graduated from drama school in July, so just being a working actor is the highlight!

Having said that, I’m lucky enough to have worked with director Chris Balmond and I also had the pleasure of performing at the Park Theatre before Christmas in ‘Anything With A Pulse’, written by Eliana Ostro, which was really fun.

I love stage and screen, so being able to work on both within a year of graduation has been so exciting.

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
AD: At the moment, I would just love to keep meeting fellow creatives, discovering more about this industry and keep honing my skills for stage and screen.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
AD: I’m very excited to be collaborating with Daniel Bainbridge again in Take My Word’s new play ‘Face Down In The Dirt’.

It’s a beautiful, brave and hugely important new play written by Lauren Carter and it’s going to be on at the King’s Head on 13 May as part of their new writing and queer season. Come along!

‘Good Day’ is on at Vault Festival from 7-12 Mar. For more information and to book see the festival website here.

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