Themes of loss in Chichester's Minerva Theatre

Director Tinuke Craig in rehearsal for random & generations Photo Manuel Harlan
Director Tinuke Craig in rehearsal for random & generations Photo Manuel Harlan

Two short and haunting dramas examine love, life and loss through the lives of two families on two continents in the debbie tucker green double bill of random/generations which Tinuke Craig is directing in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre (until June 2).

random explores the unbearable sense of loss felt by a family faced with a catastrophic and random act; in generations, in the cradle of their South African family, Boyfriend and Girlfriend are beginning their lives together, just as Mama and Dad, and Grandad and Nana, did before them. Until, one by one, family members start to disappear…

“It was a programming choice to put them together,” says director Tinuke. “I don’t think they have ever been played together before, and they are quite a little way apart in terms of when they were written. But they work well together.

“debbie writes these quite compact, short, sharp, shock plays, and I think between them there is something in the way that she deals with loss and grief and particularly the loss of young people, the tragic, sudden loss of people that have their whole lives in front of them.

“She is a playwright I have worked with before. My first professional show was by her as well. That was a play that I had pitched for a directing award that I won.

“I also went to see one of her plays when I was 17 and it just really influenced my thinking and thoughts about the theatre. It was a piece called stoning mary. She has got this rhythmic, almost verse-like way of writing that I had not really come across before. Also, she deals with quite hard-hitting raw emotions that she does not really embellish. It’s really direct, which I found really refreshing as a teenager.”

For current the productions, debbie was involved in the initial process, Tinuke says: “She was part of the casting and putting together the creative team. Once it has opened, she is quite happy to step back and let the work breathe. We had a few conversations at the beginning, but she trusts you, which is good.

“Between the plays there is the thematic link. random deals with a London-based family; generations is set in South Africa and speaks a more global language. It feels a bit more archetypal and a bit more fable like. You get a microcosm of loss in the first one and a macrocosm of loss in the second one.”

So does that mean that they absolutely have to be played that way round?

“It is something we have discussed, and I don’t think we have absolutely decided that yet, but they could be either way, but maybe with generations there is a certain catharsis, more of a release in the play.

“This is my first time working at Chichester in any capacity at all. I have not worked outside of London very much, and it will be interesting to see the difference. debbie has got quite a following as a writer, and I think there will be quite a few people jumping on the train to come and see it.

“But I am also really excited to be bringing it to a Chichester audience. It is such a good theatre there for bringing in different work, and it is such a sophisticated and well-educated audience… and there is no reason not to challenge them!”

A playwright, screenwriter and director, debbie tucker green is regarded as one of theatre’s most original voices. She won the Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer in 2004 for born bad, and the 2012 BAFTA Award for Best Single Drama for the television version of random.

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