Rafaella Marcus is the writer of The You Play Volume Two: The Haunted Woman, her second play in the audio project Written on the Waves.
Directed by Jessica Lazar, it follows the previous collaboration on Marcus’ debut The You Play: small acts, and is available now.
Listen to The You Play Volume Two: The Haunted Woman here
What can you tell us about The You Play Volume Two: The Haunted Woman?
Without giving too much away, it’s a ghost story of sorts, as the title might suggest. It’s about a woman making an urgent recording of a message addressed to you, the listener, in which she asks you to do some things for her. It’s a story about relationships and losing opportunities and haunted houses and the bitterness of disappointment overall.
What inspired you to write this play?
I knew I wanted to write a ghost story because we were releasing in December and it’s the season for them, plus I’ve never written a ghost story before so I wanted to challenge myself. Originally, I had a very different idea in mind and then I realised one particular part of it was grabbing me more than the rest, and that was the part about an unhappy relationship and what all those simmering, repressed resentments and silences might be building up over time, and what might happen when they were released. The title is taken from a Dickens short story called The Haunted Man – his other winter story about ghosts – and though the stories are very different, I think they’re speaking to each other in a way.
How does it link to the work you released earlier this year, The You Play: small acts?
It’s a sequel in form, though not narrative. The You Play: small acts places the listener as the protagonist and the narrator, played very brilliantly by Katherine Parkinson, asks you to do tasks that build up your sense of the world and what’s happening to you. The Haunted Woman is a little different in that you’re not the protagonist but you are (as you’ll find out) extremely important to the story in other ways. They both depend on your collaboration and imagination to put all the puzzle pieces together.
How have you found writing for audio, has it been a very different experience for you?
Because my writing career, such as it is, is still relatively new, I’ve now written more audio drama than I have stage drama! But one of the few gifts of 2020 has been discovering how much I love working in this medium – I think it’s democratic in how it asks the imagination of the listener to take on an active role, and for me has felt nearer to what I love about live performance onstage than watching livestreams and plays over Zoom. Just like any medium, it can follow more established conventions or it can be more experimental and I’ve hugely enjoyed doing both.
Jessica Lazar is directing, what have you enjoyed most about this collaboration?
Jess has directed all my writing to date, which speaks volumes in itself about how much I trust her and feel like we’re on the same page. It helps that we keep discovering new things that we’re both interested in – the first You Play is loosely based on The Winter’s Tale and when I first mentioned that idea to Jess, it turned out that not only was it one of her favourite plays but one she’d also been thinking about a lot during the first phase of lockdown, so it feels like we really hit the ground running.
What would you say to anyone thinking of listening to The You Play Volume Two: The Haunted Woman?
Carve out some time. Close the door. Dim the lights. You hear better in the dark.