"This [play] is for anybody who needs to go on a voyage into their mother or into their father’s worlds, because the deeper you go the more you can understand them, and learn to love them again" - Iain Sinclair, director and dramaturg behind BETTY, a new play by Jules Allen. With just over a week out from its world premiere, Jules and Iain TAKE A MOMENT TO give us an insight into the work and the real-life story that inspired it.
Q: Where did the idea behind Betty come from? J: The concept of ‘Betty’ was born out of my lived experience of caring for my Mother in the last year of her life. During that time I gained a deep insight in to an event that occurred early in her life that was the backbone to the fractured relationship we had endured. Since I was born, really. It was like finally putting together the final pieces of an incredibly complex puzzle. The story was so profound that I felt the need to put it on paper. I’m not sure if I ever thought I would share it with anyone at the time but I’ve since discovered that these things have a way of finding their way out in to the world if they need to be shared. As has been the case with both of the plays I have written.
Q: How long have you been living with this story and how does it feel to finally be able to share it onstage with others? J: The story of ‘Betty’ has filtered its way in and out of my life for as long as I can remember. Understanding it’s gravity, however, only happened in the last year of my Mother’e life some 5 years ago. If I’m to be honest, there are times I feel scared and apprehensive to share this story. I have deep empathy for Eugenie O’Neill and his reluctance to publish ‘Long days journey in to night' during his lifetime. Some things are so deeply personal. It’s strange but there’s been a momentum to this play that has driven it to the stage of its own accord. I feel I am just along for the ride. However wild and crazy that may be. And it is!
Q: How have you found the experience as a writer and performer in your own play? J: Being a writer and performer in my own play is absolutely nuts. I sat back during my first play and played the role of just the writer. This time I thought I’d dive right in. Good Lord. I can’t say I wasn’t warned. It is probably one of the most challenging things I have ever done. As a close friend said to me yesterday, “You’ve never been one to take the easy path”. How right she is. Although I am in a steep learning curve, I couldn’t ask to be in better hands for the process. Iain, the team and the support I have received from Theatre Works has been extraordinary. For that I am extremely grateful.
Q: What drew you to Jules play BETTY?
I: I have always been attracted to playwright/actors who tell their own story. My experience with Kate Mulvany on The Seed is something that I always like to replicate. And I think that when I read Jules’ play it had that same ring of voracity of lived truth that Kate’s play had. So anytime I get a chance, they are such rare gems that it’s worth chasing for them and mining for them, and this has a similar quality.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the characters and their relationship with one another? I: It’s a fraught one, there are skeletons in the cupboard. It’s the perfect material for drama. And the skeletons in this particular closet cannot be imagined or second guessed. Because of that it makes for terrifically challenging, and amusing, and disturbing theatre, I think.
Q: Who would you recommend to see this play?
I: Anyone who needs to work shit out with their parents. That’s everybody! This is for anybody who needs to go on a voyage into their mother or into their father’s worlds, because the deeper you go the more you can understand them, and learn to love them again. BETTY
by Jules Allen
16-26 Feb BOOK HERE