Harnessing a Flood of Ideas

10 Jan 2020

The mighty Young Company's latest show, Antigone, smashes into The Weston Studio kicking off the new year – a bold cinematic version of the Sophokles classic, translated by acclaimed Canadian poet Anne Carson. Ella Khanna is the Shadow Director and ASM on the show, and we chatted to her about her thoughts on making the show.

I’ve been a funny in-between figure over the course of this show, having auditioned to act with the Young Company cast, but been asked instead to come in as an honorary member of the creative team. I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of this crazy-talented cast and crew, doing one of the coolest shows I’ve ever been a part of- and the chance to shadow Maisie, our wonderful director, has been invaluable.

One thing that’s been particularly interesting to me about watching this production develop is the intersection between hard script and the freedom to create. The translation we’re using is one by Anne Carson, and her incredible work isn’t often showcased here, so it’s been important to us not to change or erase any of her brilliant lines.

On the flip-side, the two shows I’ve worked on with Maisie before were devised from scratch, and a lot of the cast bring a huge amount of devising experience with them from her Young Company sessions. Bringing that mindset and skill-set to a scripted play has been a unique way to approach it, and one that’s made for a workroom overflowing with ideas- if you’ve been up in Clore over the last few months, you’ll have seen our pin-board and timeline which have taken up nearly two full walls!

This flood of ideas has been exciting but challenging to work with – I don’t think people realise just how many forms a show can go through before it hits the stage. It’s been a learning curve, forcing ourselves to examine the things we’ve made with a critical eye, and specifically in the context that they’ll be in, asking: 'this looks really cool, but is that all it is? What is this doing when we hold it up next to the other things we’ve made? Is this saying what we want it to say? What kind of show are we making if we do this? It's a learned skill, I think, to recognise why you like something- because it fits with the rest of the show and says something interesting? Or for a more subjective reason? It’s hard to admit it when things need cutting, despite having had a lot of work put into them, because they just don’t work anymore. It’s important to remember that none of it just disappears! It’ll be useful somewhere, even if it’s not in this show, and this one will be better off for it.

Now we're finishing rehearsals and are in the space, excitement and nerves have skyrocketed - the thing’s up on its feet enough for us to see just how cool it’ll be if it pulls together properly, but an extra couple of months to rehearse sounds pretty good to everyone. I have immense faith in this cast, and seeing snippets of what this is going to be makes me out-of-my-mind excited- these guys are all so cool, and the play’s so cool, and I’m pumped beyond belief to be part of these final two weeks. I honestly can't wait to see it.

Antigone plays in The Weston Studio, with tickets for £12, 8–11 Jan. For more info and to book tickets, click here.