“Big Guns is about fear, threat, violence and the moment ‘just before’ something is about to happen…” Later this month Debra Baker will be performing in the world premiere of Nina Segal’s unsettling new play, which opens at the Yard Theatre on 21st March.
“I think Big Guns really taps into how the world is at the moment,” says Debra. “Most of us haven’t had war within our lifetime, but with the current political climate – Brexit, Donald Trump, the terrorist threat – it feels as though danger is much closer and could happen. It feels as though we are in the ‘just before’ moment where we have a small window of time to change the outcome.
“The play’s also about how we like to distract ourselves from all the horror of the world, often through losing ourselves by viewing other people’s lives. I hope the audiences go away feeling something, hopefully slightly uneasy, and that this makes them want to do some self-reflection.”
Big Guns is directed by Dan Hutton and co-stars Jessye Romeo, previously seen in Martyr at the Unicorn Theatre. “Rehearsals have been very interesting,” says Debra. “Because the play doesn’t have a traditional narrative, and is not set in a certain space or time, this leaves the interpretation wide open, so we’ve been discovering different things every day. There are so many ways to play it so we are having to find our way through and discover what works best. I haven’t worked with most of the team before, but I have worked with Martha Rose Wilson, the producer, on Radiant Vermin and Ben Karakashian, production manager, on Someone to Blame.”
Tackling such dark topics can be a challenge: “It is sometimes hard to go to the dark side! I have heard and learned about things I never knew were out there – very bad things which make me feel very sad for humanity. I try not to think too long or get too deeply involved in that though. It’s been hard trying to find the cruel, nasty side of myself too, but we do have fun in rehearsals as well!
“At the end of the day I leave it all behind – I’m a mum so have to go home and do all my work there, which keeps me grounded, and I’m good at compartmentalising things.”
The production follows the success of Nina Segal’s debut play In The Night Time (Before The Sun Rises), in which a young couple are driven by the relentless crying of their new baby to question if they should ever have brought a child into such a damaged world. Debra hopes Big Guns will be equally well received. “Nina Segal’s writing is brilliant and we hope we can do it justice, and that it will look and sound fantastic. It will hopefully be an interesting, pacey, dark, exciting, humorous, twisted, confusing, scary, fun ride.”
Big Guns is at the Yard Theatre from 21st March-8th April.