Punts, a new play by Sarah Page is about a young man’s sexual awakening and its effect on those who orchestrated it. We speak to director, Jessica Edwards, to find out more about the show.
You’re directing Punts at Theatre503, what can you tell us about it?
Punts explores the nature of intimacy as a person with a learning disability. It’s a funny, delicate, human, challenging play which empowers sexuality and complicates black and white morality. All the characters are right which is what generates the conflict.
How did you become involved with the show?
Lisa Spirling (Artistic Director of Theatre03) sent me the play as she thought I’d be a good fit as a director. My work almost always explores gender and sexuality, and I’d been interested in being involved in a piece about sex work for some time. I read the play and fell in love with it – then met Sarah Page (writer of Punts) and fell in love with her. It’s great to be a part of such an important, startling show.
How will you make sure a character with a learning disability is portrayed accurately?
Sarah did a great deal of research and interviewed a lot of people with or affected by learning disabilities when she was creating the character, so our first duty is to be truthful to what she has written. My own research has been wide ranging – Mencap has been an amazing resource in particular. It was most important to me to show a person with a learning disability with an empowered sexuality – as that is sadly so rarely seen onstage.
Writer, Sarah Page, has drawn inspiration from interviews with sex workers, did she share these interviews with you?
We’ve discussed Sarah’s interviews at length in the rehearsal room – and the exact material of her interviews have remained deservedly private. I’ve also conducted research of my own to ensure I have a personal way into the sex worker character.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge in staging Punts?
The biggest challenge is also the biggest excitement to me – to give often marginalised characters full agency onstage. Also, to complicate an audiences’ relationship with what they believe or presume about disability and sex work.
You’ve been involved in a lot of great shows, such as Doctor Faustus, Jekyll and Hyde and The Maids, what have you learned from some of these bigger productions?
Thank you! Those shows are all very different from Punts as they were more about spectacle and existed in a more magical reality. Punts is very much set in the real world. I’ve certainly learned about rigour and specificity in aesthetic choices, and how to empower a room of actors and creatives to make their best work.