British playwright Mike Bartlett’s ‘Contractions’ will have its debut on the South African stage at the Alexander Upstairs Theatre on Strand Street in the CBD on January 25, running until February 13.
PETER TROMP chatted with 2015 Fleur du Cap Best Actress winner EMILY CHILD, who will be starring alongside Janna Ramos-Violante in the Greg Karvellas directed production.
Tell us about ‘Contractions’ and what audiences can look forward to with the production.
‘Contractions’ is a dark comedy drama that will leave you breathless. It is clean, potent writing. The play takes place over a series of meetings between Emma and her Manager. What begins as seemingly standard practice develops into an interrogation of a very different kind.
We watch as Emma is forced to make life changing decisions in order to keep her job. We start to see what she is willing to do for her company. ‘Contractions’ takes what is dangerously familiar and turns it into riveting entertainment.
Tell us about your character and how you have gone about realising the role. What unique qualities do you think you’re bringing to the part?
Emma is a normal, social, confident worker. She is good at her job. Her sales figures are improving…until she is told that she is in breach of contract. This forces her to make decisions she didn’t know she was capable of making.
I suppose I have tried to “find” Emma in the choices I make every day. I am often amazed at what people watch themselves doing to get or keep a job or contract.
Emma’s scenario may be more extreme than the average employee, but these decisions are all relative. I have looked closely at what my own boundaries are and have used this as a starting point. Apart from that, this text requires the actor to be 100 percent present. There is no time for construct or sentiment. This script is fast and direct. It is relentless. It is tough. Real tough.
If I think of all the qualities I am going to need to bring to the table, it’s balls. I need to bring my big, brave actor balls to this part.
The play deals with the corporate world. As a creative who works outside the parameters of a “9 to 5”, how do you think you’d cope if you had to suddenly find yourself transplanted to that world? And I’m not talking about corporate theatre…
As much as the idea terrifies me, I like the thought of not taking your work home. It would be quite a luxury not to have lines running through your head all night or to have to borrow your friends’ furniture to use as part of your set.
It would also be nice to be able to plan a dinner party or actually be at that wedding. However, I think working in a cubicle must be tough. Having to ask permission to go on a holiday that you deserve must be beyond frustrating.
But then again, you are guaranteed a salary every month and coffee breaks are awesome…wait a minute; I think I might love a 9-5 after all.
“Last night a show changed my life.” Which show?
‘Oliver Twist’. I saw it when I was very young and the boy who lived in a drawer made me want to be an actor.
Last punt: why should folks book for ‘Contractions’ right now?
They will be riveted. They will be shocked. Above all, they will be entertained. ‘Contractions’ is like a brand new toothbrush: it makes your gums bleed and it hurts a bit, but the more you brush, the more you start to enjoy the pain.
* For more information and for bookings, visit shows.alexanderbar.co.za.