Max Gill is a writer and director from London. He recently wrote and directed an acclaimed, radical adaptation of La Ronde at The Bunker theatre, published by Oberon Books. Previously, he assisted Sir Kenneth Branagh across his Season at The Garrick. He is directing the reading of Looked After Children for the Page To Stage workshop, part of Alchymy festival, on Sat 8 April at 10.30am.
“Discovering and cultivating new plays is one of the greatest joys of working in this industry”
Looked After Children is a complex and nuanced examination of a thorny and important issue. Eva Edo’s characters are rich: as likeable as they are flawed human beings. With only four actors, an immersive and knotty world is created. The play’s portrait of life in the care system and the legal tape that surrounds it has the stinging ring of truth. At the same time, it has great flashes of bittersweet humour. It poses provocative questions and in the process makes us better equipped to consider some answers.
Much of Eva’s dialogue sits on a knife edge between sharp observation, incisive social commentary and cutting humour. It is always an exciting challenge to give voice to this kind of shifting tonality, where moments of light and dark catch you by surprise.
The obvious limits of time and resources when directing a reading provide great focus. Actors and creatives have to make firm choices based on evidence in the text so it certainly hones your sensitivity. Bold and hopefully fruitful decisions must be made in terms of characterisation and mood. There is a liveness to a play reading that is always challenging but that also gives way to moments of unfettered clarity and poignancy; part of the excitement of directing a reading is recognising these moments of truth and bottling them for any future realisations of the text!
Discovering and cultivating new plays is one of the greatest joys of working in this industry. I feel we are at a turning point in our dramatic canon; we really need new voices and perspectives to reinvigorate theatre and re-establish what it is there to do. I am tired of endless revivals of dusty classics so I feel very privileged to be part of a festival that focuses entirely on the new. Who knows in what direction theatre is going over the next decades? The only way to find out is to listen closely to those expanding its prospects.