Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Georgia Leanne Harris: Sheep

By | Published on Thursday 20 July 2017

A run of a new play by established screenwriter and playwright David Cantor began at The White Bear Theatre this week, and it sounds like a cracker, telling the story of a man beset by insomnia and what happens to him in the wee small hours.

To find out a bit more about the play and who is behind it, I had a quick chat with the show’s director, Georgia Leanne Harris.

CM: Can you start by giving us a vague idea of what ‘Sheep’ is about? What’s the story?
GLH: Sheep follows Dexy, who hasn’t slept for 21 nights and isn’t too sure why. The play takes place in his flat between 3 and 4:30am and sees him visited by various night dwelling friends he’s made during his abrupt foray into absolute insomnia.

CM: What are the main themes of the play?
GLH: Insomnia, friendship, guilt, depression, love, hallucinations, sex parties and the number 32 bus.

CM: Who are the central characters and who plays them?
GLH: Dexy is played by Ciaran Lonsdale. Leo (a hedonist) is played by James Groom, Vic (a night bus driver) is played by Bruce Kitchener and Margot (the woman outside his window) is played by Niamh Watson.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the writer David Cantor? Has he been involved with the ongoing production?
GLH: Over the past ten years David Cantor has written for television and the stage including three of the BBC’s: ‘My Family’, ‘Two Pints Of Lager & A Packet Of Crisps’, and ‘The Green Green Grass’. His stage writing includes ‘Stopping Distance’ and ‘I Play For Me’. I’ve really enjoyed working with David on this production – he’s so enthusiastic and warm and it’s been wonderful to be able to work so closely with a writer.

CM: What attracted you to the play? Why did you want to direct this?
GLH: I first read the play about nine months ago and couldn’t stop thinking about it after I’d read it. The text is so funny, the characters so addictive, that it sticks with you and I (ironically) hardly slept the night after reading it. It engaged me so completely that I couldn’t not put it on and immediately set out trying to get it programmed in at the White Bear.

CM: What drew you to a career in directing, and how did you get into it?
GLH: When I was younger I was involved in a lot of youth theatre to try to up my confidence, and I fell in love with the theatre. After a brief time of thinking I wanted to act (and being quite bad at it) I realised I was much more comfortable sat in the dark watching the creation instead. I directed my first ever show – Willy Russell’s ‘Stags and Hens’ at my university Drama Barn, and realised I’d found what I loved doing. Shortly after I set up my theatre company, Tripped Theatre, so I could start taking shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and everything has spiralled from that point on.

CM: What’s been the best experience you’ve had in your career so far?
GLH: Of all the shows I’ve directed, ‘Sheep’ has been my favourite to see grow from an idea to a full show. However I think a particular highlight has to be when I had a meeting with the head of new writing at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester (where I hail from originally). I walked in through the stage door and was greeted with “You’re Georgia Harris and we know you as a theatre director” and that moment felt like a huge achievement.

CM: What plans do you have for the future?
GLH: It’s probably easier to answer what plans I don’t have for the future right now! I’d love to end up running a building – that’s my end game I think – which is why my associate directorship at the White Bear has been so wonderfully rewarding.

CM: What’s coming up next, after ‘Sheep’?
GLH: I’m looking at some collaboration on repertory theatre early next year which will be fun, and I’m currently researching some outlets for a Shakespeare production. I did a lot of Shakespeare a while ago and I’d love to get back to it – I’m as big a fan of the classics as I am of new writing.

‘Sheep’ is on at The White Bear until 5 Aug, see this page here for info and to book.