How did Underexposed come together?
I had written a short play that happened to explore the idea of a certain underexposed stereotype. From this, I had the idea that underexposed stereotypes in general was an interesting subject matter to reflect on and one that had a lot of scope. There didn’t seem to be anything on the theatre scene that quite pertained to this idea so I decided to produce my own theatre festival under that theme because, well, why not?! It was a big undertaking but one that I knew would be fruitful and it felt good to be doing something so proactive. The next thing I needed was more plays so I put some feelers out there and ended up getting a huge number of excellent submissions from friends, friends of friends, acquaintances and total strangers! I selected the ones that I felt would worked best in the festival and alongside that developed another couple of my own pieces with the underexposed theme in mind. A meeting of all the writers took place shortly before Christmas with each one being given the autonomy to select their own crew and run their own show (as it were). There was still plenty of orchestration to be done and the small matter of my own three shorts to be cast and rehearsed (with me in them as well) so I had my work cut out for me but the show was definitely on the road by this point (or the engine was on and we’d backed out the drive-way anyway).
What is Underexposed ethos?
Exploring any stereotypes that get less publicity than the big ones, especially ones where stigmatisation is still more or less acceptable. It can be anything from the serious and worthy to the silly and light-hearted as long as it fits the bill. We’ve got everything from post-natal depression and revolution to hyper-spirited artistic types and deliberations over cocks and consequences in this one so it’s a broad church!
What is your current production about?
It’s a collection of nine short plays with each exploring the underexposed theme from different perspectives. They’re a mixture of comedies and dramas, although the balance is towards the former. The serious ones still raise some laughs and smiles and the comedies present some salient arguments so your mental and emotional muscles get a good flexing all round!
Actor Awareness is about creating equal opportunity, how do you guys feel the industry needs to address certain factors such as maintaining a inclusive arts culture? (big question! sorry)
By avoiding stereotyping! I think it starts with the writing and the casting: have an open mind about what your character is going to look and sound like and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. In reality, people from different backgrounds can, should and do occupy positions in all walks of life and if you can’t reinforce that through art then when can you? So if you’ve written an ostensibly white middle class character – see some working class people for it, see people from ethnic minority backgrounds; if you’ve written an archetypal businessperson – see some women for the part. Will they be any less believable? They shouldn’t be – not if the character’s fully drawn. Still always pick the best actor for the part, don’t anybody any favours – it’s patronising, and don’t discriminate in the other direction – that’s not fair either. Just widen your perspective, challenge your preconceptions and keep your options open. We’re so conditioned to think of certain people looking and sounding a certain way that it’s going to take an enormous amount of reconditioning to change that. If I said to you ‘close your eyes and think of a surgeon’, nine out of ten people will summon to mind an image of a white, middle-class man. Are all surgeons white, middle class men? Of course not. It’s the same across a whole host of professions and ‘types’ of people. It’s the way we’ve learnt to understand the world from when we were babies. Changing laws, launching initiatives is difficult (but doable), restructuring centuries of psychological and societal conditioning – harder. I think that’s the way we have to go though really – rather than writing more plays and films tailored to specific groups of people and then having the main dominated by the same people it always has been. What I’m saying is hardly revelatory and of course it’s already happening to an extent -(although more so on the small screen than the big and not nearly enough in theatre). So, how about making the next big movie a character-driven drama about a business executive who has an affair with another executive (on an equal pay grade) and then happen to cast Idris Elba and an unknown 5ft 3 inch brunette actress like um, me. Sorry!! Couldn’t resist…. There was a serious point in there though.
Shows– 8th and 9th May at The Old Red Lion Theatre in Angel, Islington.
Performance starts at 7.30pm and lasts around two hours with a fifteen minute interval.
Full details of all the different plays, as well as the writers, directors and actors involved in them can be found on our website at: