Jo Tyabji is the director of Darling, by Tabby Lamb, which is part of the second season of audio play series, Written on the Waves.
An ode to magic, adventures and messy queerness. Darling examines what it’s really like growing up inspired by the boy who never did. If dying is an awfully big adventure, wait ‘til you see what it’s like to really live your truth.
Darling, directed by Jo Tyabji is released on 10th June. More information and how to listen can be found here
You’re directing Darling, part of Written on The Waves, what can you tell us about the play?
Darling is a reimagining of the Peter Pan story – or in fact an imagining ‘forward’ all the way from 1902 to now. I don’t want to say too much more, meet Darling for yourselves.
What first attracted you to this play?
I grew up playing at being Peter Pan in the playground. The freedom implied by being “The Boy Who Never Grew Up“ is so intoxicating to children of every gender – and honestly the power of imagination to turn a playground into a pirate ship is still what drives me. But JM Barry’s universe cut me out – he never wrote me into it. Or frankly any other girl or boi who was more likely to rebel than acquiesce to darning socks. So, reading Tabby’s play the sensation was – at last – a version of the extraordinary events experienced by the Darling household that doesn’t write me out of the bounds of imagination.
How has Tabby Lamb’s writing inspired you?
Tabby could have written a play that dances off beyond the stars and never comes back. I love how she ties it resolutely back to reality at every turn: it’s only through its connectedness to our world that fantasy writing really flies.
What’s been the biggest challenge of directing an audio play during the pandemic?
We were lucky enough to be able to record Darling in the studio – with negative covid tests and distancing in place. Recording Milk Presents’ trio of audio plays last year we were working across Wifi, with actors recording their audio locally too. I’ve found directing on Zoom can actually be a strangely intimate experience – like the screen compresses and focuses the connection with the actors. But there’s of course just so much more scope for technical hitches – from unexpected rain on a skylight above an actor’s head, to the mic picking up the whirr of an overheating laptop battery.
How do you think the concept of living your truth, which Darling explores in depth, will resonate with audiences today?
Being visible and being invisible is a big deal in Darling: as it is to all of us. Think back to when you were, say, five and you went to a kid’s party for the first time. You want to be seen and accepted, you don’t want to be made to stand on a chair and pointed at. You might want to leap on that chair yourself and be celebrated for your dancing or your silly faces for just a little bit, but then you want to hang out with your buddies and eat cake.
LGBTQ liberation has become super individualised. But I am me because you are you – identity is made up of all the ways we are together, over generations and aeons. Queers have always been here, trans people have always been here, we use different words to talk about ourselves than a hundred years ago, and we’re more visible to people who accept the hegemonic off-the-peg identities offered them than 100 years ago. But now, as then, there are people who want to put us on chairs for things other than our skill, and people who say it’s dangerous to eat cake with us. I think people will resonate with the ways Darling sticks a joyful two fingers up at both.
What would you say to anyone thinking of listening to Darling?
Put your headphones on, take yourself to a shady spot in the park, and let Darling take you to a place of possibility. It’s beautiful.