Claudine Sinnett originally graduated as an actor from the Arts Educational Drama school in London, worked as an actor for many years, lived in New York whilst studying Meisner Technique and she is now a theatre director, dramaturg, and teacher who has worked in many of the UK theatres including the Edinburgh Festival and Brighton Fringe.
She is interested in encouraging actors and writers to have a strong voice in theatre and has worked alongside practitioners in verbatim and documentary theatre style. She works closely with writers to encourage and support them develop truthful pieces of theatre.
During her time building Cry Havoc, audiences have consistently and enthusiastically received her artistic work. Claudine is committed to forging meaningful, long-lasting artistic partnerships with artists and companies across the country and abroad, to develop and cement the creative work that is produced through Cry Havoc.
Devil of Choice is coming to Assembly George Square Studio One what can you tell us about it?
Devil of Choice is about the choices we all make when pushed to our limits. When faced with the most difficult propositions or situations, are we brave enough to make the right choice? Whether it’s for love, sex or money, we have to make a decision. Who are we going to be faithful to? Yourself or the other person?
It’s a volatile triangle of love which tests the characters to their emotional limits. The actors have been encouraged to reveal the naked truth about the choices we make and in rehearsal we have made sure that we have not put our own judgements on these characters so that it leaves the play purely in the audiences’ hands. We have left it to them to work out who the devil is in this story. The speed and the brutal honestly of what comes at you is what makes this play different. It is sharp. A knife edge. It’s funny and then it will equally stab you with how honest it is about the issues that are raised.
How did you get involved in Devil of Choice?
I have had a wonderful relationship with Maggie Diaz Bofill for years. I first met LAByrinth at the Edinburgh Fringe years ago when Philip Seymour Hoffman was the Artistic Director and have always thought their work is amazing. They are brave and have always pushed the boundaries. Since starting Cry Havoc, I knew I wanted to do some sort of collaboration with them and here it is! They have been so supportive in this process and I hope that this will reignite an awareness in the UK for LAByrinth as well as supporting our company as well. We need to help each other in this artistic world. Collaboration is so important for the growth and support of theatre companies worldwide.
What is it about Maggie Diaz Bofill ‘s writing that makes it such a great project to work on?
I have watched Maggie write for years. Her work has always been edgy, deep and truthful. I can remember speaking to her 10 years ago about how committed she is to her writing, and always thought how wonderful it would be to produce, direct or act in one of her productions. She is a force to be reckoned with and I truly believe that its time people know about her. So, when the opportunity arose, I contacted her. It made so much sense. I feel like I understand her writing and it suits my directing style. Truthful and always searching for the deeper meanings beyond the words. Her writing is beautiful and poetic, almost musical.
Did you know anything about Devil of Choice or the subject before you started working on it?
Yes. Being so close to Maggie has made the process so much easier because I understand her motivations for writing but also have a fascination in the philosophy behind this production. The play is based on the Faustian paradigm and it’s a beautiful thing to allow yourself to make honest, bold choices at the risk of losing someone. This can create the most spellbinding relationships and separate the people in your lives who don’t have your best interests at heart. I believe that this play can really open people’s eyes to this and the Faustian philosophy is an important one for us to all to think about. I certainly don’t stop striving and nor does Maggie.
What’s the one thing about Devil of Choice that makes it different from all the rest?
The play is a revolving door of intense emotional scenes. 21 scenes in one hour. It doesn’t just keep you on your toes, it knocks you off them. We would like to think that it will keep the audience on the edge and leaves them questioning themselves about things they take for granted. It’s also a sensual and deeply philosophical play. You’ll have to come and watch to make up your minds!
How will you keep the cast motivated through the run?
Food and wine! On a serious note, I am one of those directors who will watch every performance. It’s my job to make sure they are always doing what they can to access the truth. There may be times I am backstage with them or out front with the audience. The most wonderful part is seeing the audience reaction and it’s my job to make sure they are understanding what is coming across. I am their compass to make sure they are always going in the right direction. They must always strive for the truth in their performances and once the show is up, I’ll be there to keep them on track.
How does it feel to be at Assembly?
It feels wonderful to be playing at the Assembly George Square Studios. In 2003, LAByrinth Theater Company played ‘Jesus Hopped the A Train’ by Stephen Adly Guirgis (recently performed at the Young Vic) here and we have been working at the Edinburgh Fringe ever since then. It feels wonderful for both companies to be back here. We want to encourage collaboration in theatre and herald new international writing. Assembly will help us to achieve this goal.
What’s the best/worst thing about directing a show at Edinburgh Fringe?
The best thing is seeing all the other shows and watching work that is new and has potential.
As a company, we want to produce again so are looking out for work to help writers and actors develop. We believe it is so important to let others work influence your own. As creatives we need to be immersed in art, and Edinburgh is the place to do it!
The worst thing is the fear that no one will come and see your work! Even though we have worked tirelessly to produce something we think is amazing we, are just as nervous as the smallest theatre company and will be so humbled by any audience that arrives to watch us.
Why should people come see Devil of Choice?
You should come to see it because it’s funny, sexy and brutally honest about the complexities of marriage, relationships, and what sin is. It looks at the strength of true friendships and how brutal honesty is one of the most beautiful things you can achieve. People will either walk away questioning their own objectives or they will just have a great time watching the whirling dervish of scenes that has been developed and adapted to suit the timings for the Edinburgh Fringe.