Set against the backdrop of a sleepy seaside town, the world premiere of Alison Carr’s Caterpillar is enigmatic drama sees three characters build smokescreens around themselves, hiding from their responsibilities, themselves and each other.
Caterpillar is at Theatre 503 29th August to 22nd September 2018.
Your play Caterpillar is coming to Theatre503, what can you tell us about it?
The play takes place in a seaside town over a weekend in July during a birdman festival that sees amateur aviators throwing themselves off the pier in homemade flying machines. Maeve’s B&B is closed for business despite it being the busiest time of year, her daughter Claire is visiting and birdman competitor Simon turns up. The play is about the three of them – all people on the edge in their different ways – and what happens if and when they dare to take a leap.
What inspired you to write about this subject?
I was initially inspired by a podcast I listen to that did a piece on birdman festivals and I thought they sounded fascinating – that desire to fly and the contraptions and costumes people come up with. I had been wanting to write about a woman grappling with a decision that is a major social taboo for a while and the two elements together – that desire to soar, to be free, not tied down – seemed to fit
How would you describe the characters in Caterpillar?
Flawed. Funny. Troubled. Surprising. Desperate.
What made you want to be a writer?
Starting out I simply wanted to BE Victoria Wood. I’ve been a huge fan from when my Mam took me to see her live at the City Hall when I was 14. I loved her humour, how she used words, her stand-up, her dramas and the characters she created. My earliest work was monologues and duologues trying to emulate that style, but as I wrote more I moved away from that and found and developed my own voice. I still pick my words very carefully, though, as she did. Wood understood the rhythm of a line, that it’s like music, whether it be a joke a put-down a rant or a whisper.
How has Theatre503 supported you with this project?
Caterpillar was shortlisted for the 503 Playwriting Award 2016. It was through the Award that I met director Yasmeen Arden who was – and still is! – incredibly passionate about the play and making it happen. We’ve been working on it since then, including revisiting the script with some dramaturgical support from Literary Manager Steve Harper. There’s a great team working on it and I’m excited for Theatre503’s audiences to see it, and then the good people of Scarborough when it heads to the Stephen Joseph Theatre at the end of September.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Caterpillar?
Please do. It’s dark, it’s funny, there’s three cracking actors, Alan Rickman gets a name-check and there’s a pub downstairs.