KCL’s Thomas Froy speaks to Roar on the nature of loneliness, London and rehearsals from his latest production at the Camden People’s Theatre, The Sea
For those who haven’t heard about The Sea, what’s this play about?
It can be difficult to feel like you’re getting enough out of the city. This play, ‘The Sea’, is about someone who responds to that fear of missing out. This was a phenomenon that I thought applied mainly to 16-20 year olds, but in London it really affects everyone; the imagery of London as a vast, confusing ocean is something I wanted to touch on.
Who does ‘The Sea’ speak to?
Loneliness speaks to everyone, but I often feel like I’m writing an open letter to students in London.
Has the creative process differed between projects?
I naturally follow a fairly strict pattern. Last Christmas I saw ‘Love and Information’ by Caryl Churchill, and knew instantly that I wanted to write a play about power. The script was written, the cast was assembled, rehearsals began, then roughly two weeks in, my mind began to wander. I was therefore simultaneously writing another play whilst directing the first.
Is directing something you particularly enjoy?
I do enjoy it, but I just want to get the thing done, I’m not a great director.
How much have you allowed the actors to influence the directorial/creative process?
Well, one of the first steps I take when the script is finalised is to get rid of anything they aren’t comfortable with. That’s important. I also tend to find that the creative input of three is greater than one, so my plays are often an amalgamation of both the actor’s and director’s creative viewpoints.
What external influences did you bring into the rehearsal room?
A big influence for me recently has been dance. Jonathon Demme’s 1984 concert film ‘Stop Making Sense’ has really influenced my recent work, it’s infectiously energetic. Having seen some of the dance sequences in the piece, I thought: ‘this could be fun’, and integrated an essence of what the film presented into my direction. I was then tasked with the problem of finding a reason why we were doing it, that came secondarily.
How do rehearsals tend to pan out?
Well, the first three days are bliss, then it descends into catastrophe. It tends to be a product of me taking far too much on at one time, so now I’m working on my fourth play I’ve started to transition towards assembling a team and designating roles. I can often feel very busy directing and marketing, so having a team really does help alleviate the pressure.
What are the benefits to having a smaller cast?
‘You get stuff done faster. I’ve also technically founded a small-scale theatre company, in the loosest sense of the term. They’re all professionals.
The play will be shown at the Camden People’s Theatre, is this a space that you’ve enjoyed working in?
Definitely, it’s a prestigious place and happens to be one of my favourites in and around the west-end. It’s exciting for me to work in a theatre with a programme of unconventional works.
How has London, more generally, shaped the play itself?
Your place defines how you are formed in London. It’s often a task of getting as much as you can out of as little space as possible. The characters in the play sort of reflect these things. You can’t really see the sky, the horizon is higher, it’s very easy to get lost.
The Sea is showing at the Camden People’s Theatre at 7.30pm from 1st-3rd March 2018.