Ahead of the release of our first online production on Friday 23rd October, we spoke to the Director of ‘Spoonface Steinberg’ Adrian Rawlins about how he found the story and how he went about bringing it to life on stage.
So, tell me about how Spoonface Steinberg started for you. Who passed you the script and what were your first impressions upon reading it?
A recording of the original radio play of ‘Spoonface’ was passed on to me by a friend. It completely captivated me on a profound level and at the same time entertained and held me in a way no radio play had done before.
There’s something about the inspirational and beautiful perspective coming out of this child’s mouth in a very matter of fact and simple way, which seems to blast a ray of sunlight through the dust of the often ‘care worn’ adult world. Also the fact that this eight year old autistic child is in love with opera I found very compelling.
[Spoonface] completely captivated me on a profound level and at the same time entertained and held me in a way no radio play had done before.
As a director, how do you know when a script like Spoonface Steinberg is worth the hours and the effort to bring it to the stage?
I think we’re all fascinated by other people’s lives and a good play will draw you into their world in such a way that you forget your own for a couple of hours and these are usually the plays that I’m drawn to, though sometimes it’s enough just to be entertained and have a good laugh. For me though it’s usually a gut thing, though of course you have to weigh up whether it’s going to sell any tickets!
The story is quite a powerful one, what do you hope the production will achieve with an audience who is perhaps unfamiliar with it?
At the end of one performance of ‘Spoonface’ a gentleman sat in the audience in stunned silence for a good five minutes before uttering the words…”What just happened!” I don’t think it was a normal night out for him, he was touched in a way he couldn’t yet articulate – I was very happy with that!
Evie captivates and holds an audience spellbound for an hour, that’s quite an achievement for any actor!
How difficult was the casting choice for the character of Spoonface and could you describe what Evie’s audition was like?
I was seriously impressed when I directed Evie in ‘The Night Season’ and knew her talent was fueled with a great passion and work ethic and knew she would be perfect for ‘Spoonface’ so no audition was required. The only issue was, was she brave enough to take on a one-woman show at the age of eighteen…of course she was!
‘Spoonface’ is a one-woman show, and I imagine that comes with it’s own set of difficulties as a director. How did you envision the production looking and feeling at the very beginning? Were there certain elements of Spoonface’s character in particular that you wanted to convey?
I don’t like to plan too much before a production, I prefer to let it emerge day by day, it somehow feels more truthful and I think more exciting as a process. The only thing I felt strongly was that it should be staged simply, anything too clever I felt would distract from falling deeper and deeper into her world.
I also felt sure that I wanted Evie to find a Spoonface who was completely authentic and honest without even a hint of self-knowing. This seemed to me the most natural way to do justice to Lee Hall’s fantastic play. Other character traits and physical characteristics emerged from Evie in rehearsal and I had the luxury of giving them a tweak here and there.
At the end of one performance of ‘Spoonface’ a gentleman sat in the audience in stunned silence for a good five minutes before uttering the words…”What just happened!”
Finally, looking back at the show now, what are you proud of the most and why?
I’m so proud that Evie captivates and holds an audience spellbound for an hour, that’s quite an achievement for any actor! I’m very proud that, judging by the feedback, our audiences have been provoked, shaken, inspired and entertained and in my book that’s a great night out in any theatre.
If you would like to watch Spoonface Steinberg, which will be available from Friday 23rd October until Friday 30th October, visit our what’s on page at: www.eastridingtheatre.co.uk/whats-on/