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HC Interviews the Director of Dramsoc Presents: “Monster”

We speak to the Director of Monster, Tom Titherington, about Dramsoc’s widely anticipated upcoming production… 

Tell us more about the play…

It’s a modern, contemporary play that was written in 2007 by the fantastic Duncan Macmillan. Its contemporary basis comments directly on our current culture. I’ve taken the direction of it being set in an inner-city London comprehensive as it’s what I’m familiar with in terms of mannerisms and slang. It is about a young trainee teacher called Tom leaving his soul destroying job in the city and making the transition instead into teaching. His first responsibility in his new job is to conduct one on one sessions with a student named Daryl; a disaffected youth; he is uncontrollable, loud, nasty and possibly genuinely psychotic. The play poses a lot of questions about how one can deal with a child like him – who appears to care for nothing and nobody; has an obsession with violence and who holistically appears to be a monster, whilst questioning wider societal issues of mental health, race, class and masculinity.

Why did you pick Macmillan’s play to direct for Dramsoc?

I was really interested upon reading the script in the character of Daryl, the 14 year old protagonist and the play’s rather relevant setting of a school. My experience of reading Daryl automatically reminded me of people I remember encountering at school. The kids that would kick off in class, that were horrible to everyone. I wanted to put a light on why they might be the way they are and I think Macmillan’s script beautifully depicts this.

Furthermore, Duncan Macmillan is amazing at writing dialogue; he nails the way that someone like Daryl would talk, which is engaging and entertaining for the audience.

Do you think the play’s grounding of a schooling environment reflects relevant connotations of the English educational system/experience?

I think rather than focussing on the political system of a school, I’d rather concentrate that it’s just a a way of getting someone like Tom who would have nothing to do with Daryl normally, into a situation where they can talk like they do and challenge each other for so long. The setting of the school works well in this respect because it forces people together with all their ideals and ideas and we witness the clash of this.

Can you develop on the wider issues of the play and how you have made directive decisions to dramatize them?

There are issues of social class and race; Daryl the young school boy is a white kid who has grown up in an economically deprived violent city estate, and carries with him a massive rude boy persona, which makes it incredibly hard for anybody to see what he’s like underneath. This is contrasted with the teacher character, Tom, who is a black guy that has grown up in a middle class white suburb in Surrey. We see the internal conflicts of identity, and witness both characters challenge the stereotypes, or prejudices they hold for each other, whilst also being exposed to the backdrop experiences of mental health. The play’s issues begins to question whether it is nature or nurture that makes the protagonists behave and live the way they do, which is a really interesting thing to watch unfold.  

Tell us about the venue choice – is it a common feature for a University of Bristol drama society to stage a production off campus?

This is a very unusual venue for the university; the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft is a far more malleable space. It’s very bare and industrial-like, and evokes the feel of an urban city, which reflects the play’s context. 

What did you take away from directing Monster?

I’ve learnt a considerable amount, in many respects. It was the first time directing a play on my own which was very daunting. Obviously, I’ve had a great cast and team around me and it’s very much been a collaborative input. The producer of the play, Elinor Lowell has been fantastic with the organisation and technicalities of the production and was extremely insightful in the casting process. We didn’t really know any of the cast beforehand, which is unusual from my experience of Bristol Drama students productions. I therefore felt quite a responsibility as a director to bring that altogether and create interactions that flowed. The experience has allowed me to create an animation of a script that I love and value and has enabled a directing style and tone that I feel comfortable with. I am looking forward to developing with further productions at Bristol. 

Why should readers of Her Campus go and see Dramsoc’s production of Monster?

I think, as discussed, the play is uniquely relevant in commenting on issues that circulate the university sphere and I think in terms of Her Campus readers, just because the two most prominent characters of the play are men, it doesn’t mean to say that it doesn’t have interesting things to look at in terms of gender, because there’s so much of these issues experimented with and challenged.

Hopefully something that people could take away if they decide to come and watch the play is being aware of how you’re really feeling; to advocate the importance of communication, which is something you become aware, the main, aggressive character Daryl struggles with.

Check out the ticket link here:

https://www.ubutheatre.com/monster;

For more information about the play find the event link here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/904506892952050/

Want to know more? Watch the trailer for the play filmed by the Dramsoc society:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTlAxPlsXj4&feature=youtu.be

Eloise is a second year English Literature student studying at the University of Bristol and is editor of the Her Campus Profile section. An authentic Bristolian, she is passionate about her city and can often be found wearing her Air Max with her nose in a book and a cider in her hand.Check out her instagram here: www.instagram.com/eloisetahourdin/
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