Caro Meets Music Interview Musicals & Opera Interview Spoken Word Interview Theatre Interview

Dominic Garfield: Lil.Miss.Lady

By | Published on Friday 16 October 2020

When I heard about theatre collective HighRise Theatre’s upcoming one night only digital event I was allured and intrigued – it’s an online version of their show ‘Lil.Miss.Lady’, a genre busting experience bringing together theatre, grime and spoken word.

To find out more about the show and what to expect from HighRise coming up, I spoke to Dominic Garfield, writer and director of ‘Lil.Miss.Lady’, and artistic director of the company.

CM: Can you start with an overview of what the show is? What can audiences expect from ‘Lil.Miss.Lady’ in terms of format and genre?
DG: First off, ‘Lil.Miss.Lady’ is a grime rave with live DJ and MCs. It’s a party. It’s a celebration. It’s in your face. The show combines nostalgic noughties bangers – ranging from drum and bass to UK garage and jungle – documenting a bass-fuelled audio history of grime. The show is also packed with narrative scenes and spoken word monologues, which is where we push the boundaries of both theatre and rave culture.

CM: As well as documenting the history of grime, does it also tell a story?
DG: Yes it also tells a story! It follows a young music collective called Dangerous Minds, headed by the infamous Lil.Miss.Lady, played by one of the hottest lyricists in UK music Lady Lykez. While the boys are boys and the scene is dominated by men, the show explores what it means to be a woman in such a combative, misogynist industry.

Without giving too much away, Jayda – Lil.Miss.Lady – is the best MC in her crew, but the boys can’t handle it. As they flirt with crime and other foolishness, she takes her crown as the UK’S hottest artist, at the same time realising she is being exploited in numerous ways. We watch her navigate this, but do we watch her survive it?

CM: What themes are explored through the show?
DG: The work covers many themes, but I would say the most prominent are childhood in London, friendship and trust in music, and the active feminism of young female role models.

CM: What inspired you to do a show like this? Who are the creatives involved?
DG: As someone that has been involved in the grime scene since 2002 as an MC and rave promoter, I have been a student of the scene spanning two decades. Since becoming a theatre maker and writer I knew I wanted to use my unique firsthand experience to tell a story about, and set in, the scene.

I compiled the show by first working with a group of researchers, including grime legend Row.D Beats, actor and rapper Gerel Falconer, and filmmaker Olly Hunter. I then worked closely with some of my favourite female grime MCs: Lioness, Stush and Queenie; interviewing them, hearing their stories and working out how I can best represent them.

We all knew this work would be special, authentic and fun as hell to put on stage, so we were all like yeah, let’s run this!

CM: How did you go about putting the show together? Can you give us a little insight into the creative process?
DG: I wrote the structure of the show and the scenes/monologues first, following the intensive research. Once the script was finished I was lucky enough to collaborate with Lady Lykez on writing the original music for the show. We then got straight into the room and played with it. And it smashed. You don’t need to hear about the obstacles!

CM: Has the lockdown had an impact on this show? Were there originally plans for live performances this year?
DG: Yes. We had to cancel a number of shows and a showcase for NewGens, our young associate company. We also had a range of participation projects cancelled or postponed which has been challenging. However we’ve got online quickly and have created a number of online workshops, music videos and online films to keep busy. We don’t stop.

CM: What made you decide to broadcast this show digitally?
DG: We knew we wanted to share the work and build an event around the screening of it as soon as ‘rona struck us. The idea of creating a digital rave is really exciting, and with our tech associate Cai Taylor anything is possible.

CM: What are the challenges you have faced in bringing the show together in the time of the pandemic?
DG: The main challenge is keeping the work interactive for an audience. We didn’t want to just stream the show on YouTube with one way traffic. It is important to us to keep the immersive and playful nature of the show online.

CM: It’s a one night thing: can you see it happening again in the future?
DG: Of course. You never know what comes next, but for now we didn’t want to offer the show to everyone. We want it to be an experience to remember!

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?   
DG: After the livestream, we go into a new term with NewGens and work towards getting a live tour together for ‘Lil.Miss.Lady’ and our new show ‘The UK Drill Project’.

Lil.Miss.Lady goes out at 8.00pm on 23 Oct. Head to this page here for more information and to book.

LINKS: | |