After the amazing scratch performances of 'Void' throughout Spring 2018 at Battersea Arts Centre, Camden People's Theatre, Hackney Showroom – and with our Youth Theatre at Spotlight – we are now working in partnership with Bernie Grant Arts Centre to co-produce a London tour of a full show in Spring 2019.
After giving the cast a little break, we had the chance to catch up with Drew, Danielle and Ikky on their experience working on 'Void'.
What does ‘void’ mean to you? Did the meaning change after your involvement with this play?
Drew: To me the word Void implies that something is missing from something. Like a small
part of a being or object is empty. The emptiness is within the void. Over working on
the play my interpretation of the word hasn’t really changed but I have become more
aware of how voids can form within you and they can come and go, but we carry
round some form emptiness that needs to be filled. I think that is why we often need
validation through work, relationships and success in order to satisfy these voids that
eat away at us.
Danielle: Void for me is an abyss of empty space. From a cosmological viewpoint, I think of void as a black hole in space, nothing (light, elementary particles etc) can get out. But things, (planets, stars) etc can get sucked into that hole. Void is a space within our minds- our spirits where there’s just a black hole. I don’t think we have always started out with voids within us, I think at some stage in human being on this planet, we have created voids within ourselves. Voids are unnatural and shouldn’t exist in nature, for me it’s a state of being where one is devoid of love.
The meaning of void definitely grew and changed after my involvement with this play, it helped me delve deeper into the psychological processes that creates the voids within us.
Ikky: To me, void is the absence - a lack of, kind of like darkness or a black hole. I think since the play, my understanding of a void has evolved from something that had quite negative connotations to something more neutral. I see a void as a part of the universe and I see it for where it sits in our lives as opposed to something that needs to be overcome. I've started making peace with some of the voids in my own life.
Void is a piece that is subject to different interpretations. Did your own understanding of your respective characters (or even the play) change over time?
Drew: Yes definitely. When starting the play, I didn’t really have any clue what is was about and it is unlike anything I have worked on and would usually work on. As the process has been very collaborative, we have had to be open about life as the play explores the human condition, and it is very hard to explore your own personal void if you are a closed book to those you work with. At the early stages of rehearsal, I saw the character 3 as just an omnipotent entity that I was playing an interpretation of. However, the biggest change was that I came to realise that the three characters are all aspects of us, and aspects of me specifically. 3 became to me the balance and unstoppable rhythm inside of me that almost forces me to keep going in life. 3 is the voice in your head that pushes you forward through pain and the lows in life and if you ignore that voice or push it away you can find yourself in an even lower state. It all sounds very deep and to some extent it is, but feelings of emptiness are universal and I think anyone can relate to the themes.
Danielle : Yes absolutely. Every single rehearsals and every performance changed my understanding of the overall play and my character. My understanding of my character Number 2 developed in direct correlation to how I interpolated myself and my own personal experiences into the character. In doing so, I was able to better understand myself in as much as I understood Number 2. My understanding of the play grew with how much thought and discussion we had during rehearsals and how we approach each performance.
Ikky: One of the profoundest things about the play is that the more we read it the more we derived from it. Our discussions during rehearsals would range from personal traumas to religion, race and politics. Full credit to Rumi and his writing here, the richness and depth of the text meant we were still discovering parallels right up until our last performance. My character, #1, perceives all of time in one go and so struggles to live in the moment - always looking to the next event. The process really drew attention to the pitfalls of knowing 'too much' and how being stuck in your head; in the past, in the future, assuming and expecting, can retract so much from the experience of what is happening right now in the present moment. The present gives us so much more when it is experienced with every single sense and the full capacity of our awareness.
For those who haven’t seen Void, sum it up in three words.
Drew: Complex, thought-provoking, original.
Danielle: Unlearning Trauma, Time
Ikky: Metaphysical - mindfuck - meditative
What's been your favourite memory of working on Void so far?
Drew: My favourite memory was after the show at Hackney Showroom. It wasn’t the most perfect and polished show, but there was an inquisitive audience and after the show we had so many people come up to us and praise the show and talk about their own experiences relating to the themes of the show. Hearing that people had connected to our performance, with their own interpretations, some being the exact interpretation we had rehearsed, was an amazing feeling.
Danielle: My favourite memory of working on void was also the most vulnerable. During one rehearsal, Rumi had all of us, (including Malakai) sit in a circle and go through each trauma we have ever experienced and mark where on our body it affected with gold glitter. It was definitely the turning point for me and how I approach the play and my performance. It became less about ‘acting’ and more about how I was able to be in each moment.
The most important question of all – what’s your go to choice of meal deal?
Drew: Tesco Meal Deal: BLT sandwich, Pickled Onion Monster Munch, and Iron Bru.
Danielle: Falafel wrap, crisp and a innocent smoothie.
Ikky: I'm a vegetarian so frustratingly, my supermarket choices are quite limited! I recently had a 'Mediterranean Vegetables' sandwich which was decent but I guess the go-to would have to be a good old Ploughman's with an Oasis and a packet of Walker's Max paprika
Drew, how is your character Number 3 different to Number 1 and Number 2?
Drew: The main difference between 1 and 2 compared to 3 is that 1 and 2, in my opinion
are constantly changing. All the characters are aspects of one person and 3 is the
balance or the voice that says keep going when you experience trauma or lows in
life. 1 and 2 are aspects of you that feel the hard impact of this trauma. They go
through change as they both have a perceived void inside of them that is eating
away at their wellbeing. My belief is that 1 and 2 want to get rid of 3 as it would be a
way of ending the suffering. Without 3, 1 and 2 have no voice telling them to keep
going. 3 can be perceived a cruel character as 3 does force 1 and 2 to suffer through
intense pain. However, 3 believes that it is for the benefit of existence.
Danielle, you’re a poet, and you’ve said that Void is the first time
you’ve acted in something – how was this experience for you?
Danielle: This experience has been the most transformative, physically intense, fun, challenging for me. I’ve literally had to push myself so far outside my comfort zone and really stretch myself as an artist. I’ve kept an open mind and willingness to learn and grow which has really helped during the more ‘uncomfortable’ moments.
So, Ikky you've now worked on two S+K productions; you were in Boys last summer, directed by exec Steven, and obviously more recently Void by Malakaï, our other co-founder. What’s it like working with these guys?
Ikky: Man, these guys are so talented and down-to-earth I forget how young they actually are. They've got their fingers in a lot of pies which means they're pretty clued up on a lot of different topics and every day brings an interesting discussion which really enriches the work that we do. They are two very different characters though which is quite funny. Malakai is the most laid-back guy I know. Steven on the other hand will not back away from awakening you from your ignorance. Both ooze passion and creativity, it's so much fun to work with them not only because they are so switched on as directors but also because they are humble enough to discuss their ideas with the group and take onboard the suggestions anyone brings. They both epitomise the London vibe and it's an absolute pleasure being in their company both on and off set.