Zoe Woodruff is the co-writer and co-creator of The Red Side of the Moon which will premiere at Iris Theatre Summer Festival.
Directed by Priya Patel Appleby and with music and lyrics by Kathryn Tindall, this new musical features an all-female creative team and an uplifting, original score.
The Red Side of the Moon is at Iris Theatre Summer Festival 12th to 17th July. Tickets are on sale here.
You’ve co-written and co-created The Red Side of the Moon at Iris Theatre’s Summer Festival with Kathryn Tindall, what can you tell us about it?
‘The Red Side of The Moon’ is a story about finding a way to be who you are, even when all the odds are stacked against you. It follows two musicians, Beth and Ellen, who are trying to ‘make it’ in the industry, and whilst audiences are falling in love with them, they are falling in love with each other.
It’s set in the early 2000’s, before being LGBTQIA+ was something companies cashed in on, and because of that the consequences of being queer are even more difficult to navigate, especially in the public eye. The score is folk inspired, and is played on two guitars, with a loop pedal. We don’t have a band, it’s all performed by the actors, Kathryn Tindall and Elinor Peregrin (which is pretty impressive!).
On top of that, it’s being performed in the gardens of The Actors Church, which is this magical little gem right in the heart of Covent Garden. It feels really special to be telling a story that is largely about public perception vs private reality, with throngs of people just beyond the walls, and only a small number of people being invited in to witness the story.
What was it about working with Kathryn Tindall that appealed to you?
Working with Kathryn is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. She is a fierce performer, and an incredible musician so when this opportunity presented itself, I knew that it was her I wanted to help me tell this story. The music is, in many ways, not what we have come to expect from new musical theatre and that’s what inspires me about it.
This story needed a different approach, and she’s created this world where the music furthers the narrative of the piece as a whole, but is simultaneously used as the music of Beth and Ellen’s careers. It’s not only gorgeous, it’s also really clever. She’s definitely one to watch.
What’s been the biggest challenge in bringing this queer love story to the stage?
We’re putting this show on with a really limited amount of rehearsals due to the cast and creative team’s varying commitments. That’s a challenge in and of itself. We all really love this show and are giving it everything we’ve got, but of course things like time, budget and location all have to be factored in and that has played a part in getting this show on its feet.
But we’re doing it. It’s happening. Weirdly, when we start rehearsals at the beginning of July, it will be the first time we’ve all been in a room together because I’m down in Kent, Priya and Elinor are both in Birmingham and Kathryn and Ellie are in London so getting us all together before the rehearsal period hasn’t been possible. I’m hoping that will mean we’ll make magic; I have a good feeling about it anyway.
How does it feel being part of the seed commissions series?
We feel really honoured to be amongst the Seed Commissions recipients. What’s great about the Season is that all the shows are celebrations of what ‘theatre’ can be, no two shows are the same, they’re all amazing and so it’s thrilling to be in amongst them. And having Iris in our corner has been such a wonderful experience; getting queer oriented shows on can be really tricky so having their support is a real gift. They’re such a great team to be working with, and are doing such amazing work for early career artists that we feel very lucky to have their backing.
The Red Side of the Moon has an all-female creative team, what do you think that adds to the production?
This story is about the experience of women in a creative industry, and so it was essential that we put together a really brilliant female creative team to tell it. We are all early career artists, and so the drive that Beth and Ellen have in the story is mirrored within our team. The fact that we are all at similar points in our careers, we’re all female and that the scale is tipped in favour of having more LGBTQIA+ creatives than straight was an active decision; Iris are championing a festival packed with early career artists, and so we wanted to do the same. There’s no hierarchy, no ‘we’re doing it this way’, it’s a collaborative experience and we want this to be a story that we tell as a collective, from the female perspective.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see The Red Side of the Moon?
This is a story for those of us in the audiences of those big West End shows that wish just once, they could see someone who looked, sounded, loved the way we do. It is a beautiful story that will lift your heart and make you feel hopeful that the narratives set out for us aren’t always the only option.