The world premiere of MUM, a new play by Juliet Cowan about love, loss and dementia, directed by Yasmeen Arden, opens at the Playground Theatre on 18 March and playing until 4 April.
It will star Amanda Boxer, Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre, Lucille Findlay, Lilly Driscoll and Martin Edwards.
Your first full length play, Mum, is coming to The Playground Theatre, what can you tell us about it?
Mum is a play about a woman who has dementia. It explores both her relationship with her daughters and also her hallucinations. As she becomes more engaged with her hallucinations, her place in the material world begins to be affected in every way. It is scary and sad but also very funny at times and ultimately about love.
What inspired you to write the play?
My mum had dementia and related hallucinations. It struck me that she had to experience her hallucinations all alone, without us there to reassure her or make her feel safe. So, I wanted to write a play where the audience were part of these ‘adventures’, so that she wasn’t so by herself in them. Some of them were very frightening or sexy or funny. I had always wanted to write a play and with the starting point of my desire to people her fantasy world, I locked myself into my bedroom and wrote, it all happened quite quickly.
Did it being based on such personal experiences make it easier or more difficult to write?
I think that because I had her hallucinations to hang the play from, it was easier to write. I already had the starting blocks of our experience as a family from which to run off and explore what actually happens in the family in the play.
Yasmeen Arden will direct, why were you keen to have her on board?
Yasmeen is an incredibly skilled and imaginative director. She creates a world where everyone is safe to explore. She approaches everything she does like a loving tiger, ferociously drawing out the truth of a piece with a gentleness that I am in awe of. Her way of working is revolutionary and her ideas and collaborative nature make it a joy.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Mum?
To anyone thinking of coming to see the play, I would say definitely go. Although no one will be grabbed from their seats and made to enter into the play in that way, it will be an immersive experience. Our creative team and cast are amazing and the experience as a theatregoer will, I hope be very impactful. It is short but my plan is for the play to stay with people, almost like a dream stays with you throughout the next day. So many people have lives touched by Alzheimers, dementia or mental health issues and I really want the play to be useful to them and enjoyable. Also, it isn’t very often that an older woman is put centre stage and that is really exciting.
Main Image: Juliet Cowan