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RSC deputy director Erica Wyman: ‘We’re so angry that the equality we were promised hasn’t happened yet’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 September 2016 | UPDATED: 16:54 02 September 2016

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again in production. Picture: Richard Lakos

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again in production. Picture: Richard Lakos

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Blazing with the tagline “this play does not behave”, Alice Birch’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again is upfront about its shock tactics

Blazing with the tagline “this play does not behave”, Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again is upfront about its intentions.

Using a variety of shock tactics and humour, the debut play from Alice Birch dissects language to take a brutal look at what it is to be a woman in the 21st century.

“Its an incredibly interesting play, showing isolated characters and incidents,” says director Erica Wyman.

“As the play progresses these are layered on top of each other so you start to realise that there is a thread connecting these women together making it an intriguing piece to watch.”

Revolt was originally debuted by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2014. The audience response to the play was overwhelmingly positive and later on in the year, Birch won the George Devine Award for new playwrights.

This September will see the company re-visit Birch’s work, bringing it to a London venue for the first time.

For Wyman, the deputy artistic director of the RSC, the mass appeal of Revolt stems from the fact that even today, there is such a high level of gender inequality affecting both men and women of all ages.

“The play is very bold and there are moments that can make you laugh and can make you cry – sometimes at the same time.”

She adds: “Young girls are entering the world to discover just how unfair it is. For my generation, we’re all so angry that the equality we were promised hasn’t happened yet.

“There’s also an anger that my generation haven’t done more.”

Throughout her career, Wyman has had a successful track record of directing new plays.

Before accepting her current role at the RSC in 2013, she spent seven years at Newcastle’s Northern Stage following the venue’s relaunch in 2005.

As its chief executive, she helped mould its international image as a theatre focusing and developing new works.

“One of the reasons the RSC hired me is because of my work with new writers. The RSC recognises that Shakespeare was once an emerging talent, so developing new work is so important.”

“Northern Stage was fantastic because the audience up there were always so vocal. Whether they like something, or they don’t like it they let you know. I had to learn to take risks, which is something I brought with me in my approach to the RSC.”

So what is it about Revolt that appealed to her as a director?

“The play is incredibly funny, it is loud and it is so well-written. It’s a play on language so each letter and sound is very carefully constructed and it works so well.

“It isn’t often the case that you read a script and immediately love it, but that’s what happened with Revolt.”

As a Hackney resident herself Wyman is pleased that the production will take place in Shoreditch Town Hall, an area of the city where she claims the cultural ethos will mesh well with the production’s forward thinking approach to conveying its message.

“I’ve been living here a long time,” she says. “I know the area well, it is so buzzing and vibrant that it fits well and the Hall were very willing to accommodate us.”

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again runs until September 17.

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