Interview: Dave Spencer and Ron Elisha, Window

“It’s a dramatic exploration of the nature of intimacy. What constitutes a relationship? How great is the distance between two people before they no longer matter to one another? Does it indeed take two to tango?”

Window is a new play by four-time Australian Writers’ Guild Award winner Ron Elisha, opening at the Bread and Roses on 29th August in a co-production from The So & So Arts Club and Another Soup.

“The two characters, Grace and Jimmy, appear to be living a normal life, and then suddenly, without warning, their lives are turned upside down – but not in the way you’d expect,” director Dave Spencer explains. “Ron has written a wonderful treatment of the trials of suffering with pre- and post-natal depression, and the possibility that it can become a form of psychosis.”

The play’s very loosely based on a true story Ron heard on a podcast: “I’ve made significant changes in order to render the story as a drama rather than narrative – including significant changes in the narrative itself – but the whole notion of the space between people has always fascinated me, and this scenario struck me as the ideal vehicle through which to explore the various facets of the issue.

“If you’re interested in human relationships, meaning, and notions of moral accountability, then this is the play for you. The play is a fine balance between humour and the whiff of tragedy, and will send audiences out thinking. And talking. Lots to talk about.”

Window tackles the insipid social media addiction of the modern age, the narcissism inherent in our everyday lives, in that we can no longer look at ourselves without looking at others,” says Dave. “We see our own reflection in the window that is supposed to show us the world. What is private and public has become so blurred that we no longer have any idea who we are. This is such an important issue in today’s society, where everything is played out behind a screen, be it on the telly, in the cinema, or from behind a computer. More and more, our lives are not our own, and it’s so important that we don’t lose the importance of real human connection and intimacy, and that’s what this play demonstrates and challenges so well – it’s about the need for connection when there really is none and cannot be.”

It’s not the first time Dave and Ron have worked together, and they’re both thrilled to be teaming up again on Window. “Dave’s a young director with a very clear vision, not only for the sort of work that interests him, but also for the means through which to express it best,” says Ron. “His choices are unerring, and he makes it all seem so effortless – though I’m sure it’s not. He has a great understanding of and feeling for human relationships – frightening for someone of his relatively tender years! – and makes it all happen with a minimum of fuss. I’d work with him again in a heartbeat. In fact, we will be working on a return season of The Soul Of Wittgenstein early in 2018, as well as other projects in the future.”

Dave’s equally effusive in his praise for Ron and the rest of the team: “I just think Ron is an incredible writer – he is so sensitive to the audience and the director, and really, the plays direct themselves. Although I do hope that I’ve had some part in putting it together…

“I’ve known our actors Idgie Beau and Charles Warner since university, and they have both since completed degrees at drama school, RADA and Oxford respectively. They are phenomenal actors and also theatre makers in general. They have such great chemistry as well, which, given the subject matter, is vitally important!

“I’m also so pleased to be working with Sam Pope on the trailer, as he has done a few of our trailers in the past; and Jo Turner, who is a long time collaborator, has come back to compose a wonderful track ‘Beyond Our Walls’, which is available to buy online, and is featured in both the teaser and the full trailers. And finally, it’s so exciting to have Clancy Flynn back as my go-to lighting designer. We share a real working language and she just lights things absolutely beautifully. I cannot wait to see what she does with the text!”

As well as Window, both Ron and Dave have plenty of other projects to keep them busy. “Personally, I’m always working,” says Ron. “Right now, I’m working on a play – Left Bank Waltz – about a journalist trying to get an interview with a famous actress. It was inspired by the famous Esquire article entitled ‘Sinatra has a Cold’, a brilliant long form piece born of the journalist’s inability to get to talk to the great man himself. It’s about the nature of identity and, in a strange, tangential way, is almost a modern reworking of Citizen Kane. I’m very excited about it.”

Dave’s Artistic Director of Another Soup, which was formed in 2010 when he was at university in Durham. “We were a small group of students who wanted to put on shows that were a little out of the ordinary, and so we did just that, utilising non-traditional spaces. We did two sell-out promenade covered market performances of a new musical version of Sweeney Todd, a dance-theatre piece based on Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, and a puppetry piece based on The Jungle Book, among Edinburgh Fringe productions and others. Then we moved to London and have continued to work with each other since, at the King’s Head and The Hope Theatres.

“And my full-time job is as Co-Producer at The So & So Arts Club, which is a 1,300-strong members organisation, bringing together artists from nine countries over paid work. And apart from that, as Ron mentioned, we are remounting Wittgenstein, and there are some other things that are very exciting in the offing. But in the meantime, I hope people will come and see Window, which is going to be hugely exciting.”

Book now for Window at the Bread and Roses from 29th August-16th September. You can also support the production’s Kickstarter campaign, which closes on Friday 4th August.

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