A freelance theatre director, Blythe’s work includes premiering the most exciting new writing by international artists and developing the unique voices and ambitious ideas of UK playwrights.
Blythe believes in work that is subversive, sophisticated, frank and joyful. She stages new as well as unheard stories which explore how social, economic and political upheavals impact our lives everyday.
In 2016 Blythe was the Hospital Club Foundation’s Emerging Creative for Theatre and Performance. She has been nominated twice for Best Director for The Off-West End Awards, the Offies, for Skin A Cat by Isley Lynn and The Moor by Catherine Lucie.
Skin A Cat is coming to Assembly Blue Room what can you tell us about it?
Skin A Cat is an honest and hilarious look at one woman’s experience of growing up. The play follows Alana as she navigates all the ‘firsts’ that come with coming of age, including partners, porn, periods and sex. The road to adulthood isn’t always easy for Alana and we get to share in her difficulties and discoveries as she tries to reconcile what it means to be a woman.
The play first premiered at VAULT Festival where it won Pick of Year and then transferred to the Bunker Theatre, where it was nominated for four Off-West End Awards, including Best New Play. We’re thrilled to be touring it this Summer and Autumn, and for our run at the Fringe. We can’t wait to see how people, new and old audiences, are going to connect with Alana and her story.
What’s the one thing about Skin A Cat makes it different from all the rest?
The play is truly both unique and universal. Alana’s journey is unabashedly hers – it’s a story you will have never heard before, told in a way you’ve never seen. But you will nod in recognition. You will laugh at the awkward sex moments, and inhale at the heartbreak ones, because it’s life stuff we all know all too well.
How does it feel to be at the Assembly Rooms?
It feels incredibly cool to be at Assembly Rooms. Assembly’s programme of new work is acclaimed for good reason. They and their audiences advocate plays and artists with irreverent and touching stories to tell. So, to be a part of Assembly is thrilling and we feel pretty chuffed to in the brand new and swish Blue Room. The show is on tour but this will be the longest stint in one space so we can’t wait to put down roots.
How did you get involved in Skin A Cat?
Isley Lynn who wrote the script, sent me Skin A Cat after she had seen some of my first productions. Immediately I knew from the first few lines this was a play I wanted to direct. I was excited by the theatrical world of Alana’s story; excited by its assurance and heart; excited by the challenge of staging sex.
In Skin A Cat we meet the many characters, women and men, that have shaped Alana’s growing up and the play doesn’t shy away from showing us the reality of these experiences and relationships. I wanted to be involved and to champion it because it is new and subversive, playful and affecting.
What is it about Isley lynn’s writing that makes it such a great project to work on?
Isley is one of a kind. And that’s not hyperbolic. No one else sees theatricality and storytelling with such rigor, aspiration and clarity. Directing Skin A Cat has been a joy. Three times now I have rehearsed and each time there has been more to unearth and more to understand. The play is about sex so immediately that’s hard – a hard thing to stage, to navigate in a rehearsal room. But staging sex, speaking about it with actors, creatives and audience members – it hasn’t been hard at all. It’s been fulfilling and fun. And that’s because of how much of herself and her craft Isley has put into this story.
Why should people come see Skin A Cat?
I think everyone should see Skin A Cat and that’s because we so rarely see sex staged (or on film, or in stories), in a way that is true to life, and not just our collective or assumed expectations. We know first hand that seeing this show is emboldening.
Our whole team has anecdotes of audience members who have come up after shows to share their own stories of awkwardness, shame or difference. Seeing stories made with honesty is important for us all.
Skin A Cat is at the Assembly Rooms – The Blue Room from 2nd – 25th August (not 13th)