This time of year is fantastic for any theatre lovers as we yet again are blessed with another show at NNT! Kicking off this week’s productions is drama Heather by Thomas Eccleshare. Here at Impact, we caught up with director Tara Phillips to gain an insight into her thoughts about the upcoming performances.
Heather itself is a rather recent production, only being published in August of last year. Focusing on protagonist Heather Eames, it is a play which details the character’s growing success of her new children’s fantasy book Greta and the Pen of the Necromancer, a text which soon gains Harry Potter-level fame. According to Phillips, it is a play with the main themes of “Catfishing and Identity, Harry Potter and Authorship”.
But how did Phillips come across the text? She stated “I first came across Heather last year when I went to go see it with my mum back home. Due to its strong script and amazing twists and turns, it really made me question my views on the issue of whether to respect an author for who they are, or what they produce.”
“This is not a play to miss.”
“A few weeks after seeing the play, the news was filled with the Harvey Weinstein scandal… when I was thinking about what to direct at the NNT, it seemed only fitting that I do this play as it has continued to stick with me since first watching it and is dealing with interesting contemporary issues.”
When asked about what audiences can therefore expect, Phillips told us that they should expect to “have their opinions challenged on the relationship between the art and the artist. The first two scenes are quite powerful and serious, but the last one is completely different and really fun to stage, so I hope the audiences enjoy it!”
“[The script] really made me question my views on the issue of whether to respect an author for who they are, or what they produce…”
But how was the rehearsal process? According to Phillips, “really fun! As the play takes lots of references from Harry Potter, many of our rehearsals have been spent watching it and taking inspiration.”
Yet it wasn’t all fun and games, Phillips continued, and elaborated on the fact that “obviously putting on a show in two weeks is stressful, but due to being a small cast and having such a great technical team… the process has been pretty chilled.”
“The main theme of the play seems to be this issue of art vs. artist”
In particular, she expressed significant gratitude to Dan McVey (Fringe Coordinator) who she termed “A complete bae… [He’s] been absolutely divine in helping us overcome any issues with an aura of calm and sophistication. He is just amazing, and I cannot thank him enough!”
Ultimately, Phillips said she hopes audiences, “go in with an open mind, and then come away with many things to discuss with each other on their views surrounding the issues shown in the play”.
“When I was thinking about what to direct at the NNT, it seemed only fitting that I do this play as it has continued to stick with me since first watching it”
But as I understand it, the main theme of the play seems to be this issue of art vs. artist – I asked Phillips her opinion on whether you can separate the story from the storyteller, must the storyteller’s identity have an impact on the story being told? Though her first reaction was laughter (“That’s a very big question ahaha”) Phillips continued by saying how she couldn’t “say too much without giving away the plot to the play, so I guess just come and see it”.
Being such a fascinating question, I’m confident that tonight’s and tomorrow’s performance will be similarly intriguing – dealing with such interesting themes, and a key question in today’s society of whether one can separate the creation from the creator, this is not a play to miss.
‘Heather’ is showing tonight, 12th November and tomorrow 13th November, with doors set to open at 19.00. The show is fully reserved but a limited number of tickets may be available on the door.
Featured image courtesy of Zoe Robinson and Beth Carter.
Image use licence here.