Guest director Natasha & Savi Alumni Gemma take to the stage at the Pleasance this week.
Following another of our successful Monologue Bootcamp Online courses, we were delighted to see participant Gemma Kenny take up a role in Savi guest director Natasha Kathi-Chandra's latest project It Kind of Looks Like a Doughnut at the Leicester Curve and the Pleasance in London.
We asked them a couple of questions and to share their experiences with Savi readers and here's what they said...
Gemma, firstly congratulations on landing the role! What was the audition process like for Doughnut?
G: Thank you so much! I am over the moon to be back on stage! Well I guess my audition process actually started with me and good old “networking.” I know it can feel cringe but I think connecting with other creatives in this industry is always so important to make you feel up to date with what’s going on and feel like an active actor. On the week I met Natasha through Savi we managed to have a little Q&A afterwards... I asked her what she was working on next and then sent a follow up email to ask if it had been cast yet! After a few self tapes to Holly Boyden (our lovely writer & producer), I sent a duologue and two versions of a monologue and amazingly it all worked out!
Did you take anything from Savi Bootcamp that helped you with your next professional job?
G: I mean Savi literally helped me to get this job by providing the opportunity to connect with directors and actors in the industry. They encouraged asking questions in the bootcamp and connecting afterwards. Savi also gave me a shake up to feel like an actor again... Covid has really hit our industry hard and I feel like the 6 weeks course really got me ready to be in a rehearsal room again. It gave me a reminder to keep playing with characters and making bold choices!
What has the rehearsal process for Doughnut been like for you?
G: We had a couple of very intense rehearsal weeks at Leicester Curve. We worked really hard on the piece which was great to unpick the text and get to the heart and soul of these women. We actioned the text and edited the script along with the writer so it was ready for our Leicester showings. We then had a few weeks apart to keep working on our scripts and then we have had the odd weekend to get in a rehearsal rooms across London to play with the piece again. I think having space in between shows has been interesting for me as you have to keep that work up as a solo artist and then all the hard work shows as a team when you reunite. I always say my happy place is the rehearsal room because that’s where the magic happens and scenes unlock so working alongside these amazing women has been a dream!
What do you love most about working with Natasha?
G: I have LOVED working with Natasha so much- I trust her process completely and she brings such commitment and encouragement into a rehearsal room which I am so grateful for! I just have to mentioned the amazing discussions we have had throughout the entire rehearsal period... we always say “did anyone film that?” after one of Natasha’s rehearsal chats because they seriously could be TedTalks! Let’s remember that this piece is all girl powerhouse and Natasha is basically the Queen of that squad. She really made me feel powerful as a female actor telling these important working class women’s stories that we arn’t used to hearing anywhere else! These stories are real and raw and we talk so openly about what it is to be woman which gives me such a drive to tell the story every night! Natasha’s love and enthusiasm for her work is infectious and I hope we work together again!
Natasha, congratulations on this fab job, how long have you been working on this project?
N: Holly first approached me with Doughnut in April 2019. She’d been selected as the inaugural participant for In Good Company’s writing commission. We took it to R&D at the Nottingham playhouse in 2019 in September with a sharing as well as a show at Wolverhampton Arena in October 2019.
In January 2020 we received news it had been selected at the Curve/Pleasance National Partnership Award show, and we were gearing up to take it to the Edinburgh fringe festival ! Although, that was impossible last year, I was committed to staying with this incredible show and here we are !
What drew you to the project in the first place?
N: The writing is so clever, funny and brave. Above all, it unapologetically talks about important issues surrounding female sexual health, sexual identity and femininity that has been deliberately written out of history. It was the magic! -The magic that came with both joy and heartbreak that Holly had so brilliantly written through the eyes of East Midlands , working class female voices. It was the responsibility of leading a powerful story about women that drew me to this project.
What did you enjoy about meeting Gemma & the students at Savi Arts: Monologue Bootcamp?
N: Gemma is a beacon on positive and bubbly energy, something that I made a note of when she performed her monologue for me at savi monologue bootcamp. What I love about Gemma the most is how she embraces every situation no matter how challenging and is keen to keep to improving her practice. Her study and work on her character- “Jo” in Doughnut has been a joy to watch. Jo was always my least favourite character in the story but as played by Gemma , I now adore her!
The students of Savi are some of the most talented and enthusiastic I’ve met in this industry!
Their openness to play with work and grow is exciting to be part of and I’ve really enjoyed the array of work they are keen to experiment with.
If you could both describe Doughnut in 3 words what would you say?
G: Oh wow... only 3? Empowering. Truthful. Playful
N: Hilarious, heartbreaking, magical
It Kind of Looks Like a Doughnut is playing at the Pleasance Theatre London until Saturday 14th August 2021.
10-14 Aug || 6.30PM / 8.40PM
JO - Gemma Kenny
EVA - Lisa Ronkowski
SHEELA - Chelsie Faulks / Holly Boyden
Writer/Producer - Holly Boyden
Director - Natasha Kathi-Chandra
Sound Designer - Drew Baumohl