Guest Blog: Blythe Stewart On THE MOOR
We've just started the second week of rehearsals on Catherine Lucie's The Moor. The first week brought with it lots of questions, timelines, Post-it notes and a fair few good ol' tennis ball games (my favourite ritual to start the day).
This week, it's all about digging deep. We will, beat by beat, try to understand the relationships in The Moor and what the play is trying to do, what it's trying to say. In rehearsals we've joked that just like the characters, we too are detectives, combing through the script for clues, looking for leads and theories.
When I first read The Moor in 2014 I couldn't put it down. It's a psychological thriller, mysterious, gripping, a kind of whodunit. When I finished it, though, I had more questions than answers. I felt unsettled and invested, and each time I felt that differently. I was unsure of what I believed, who I aligned myself with, and what that all meant about my worldview.
What I did know for sure: this play was hard. Catherine has written a bold, assured work. Difficult in design, challenging in plot - how do you do this play? I had to direct it. It is its own kind of case to solve.
The play is about a young woman, Bronagh, who has lived on the moor her whole life. When a boy goes missing, Bronagh tells someone her suspicions, entangling herself and her boyfriend in a murder investigation.
In Bronagh we see more than just a strong female character. (Is that phrase dead yet? Please?) Bronagh is perceptive, shy, astute, distinct, ordinary, and most importantly changeable. Recently bereaved, a new mother, and in a toxic relationship, Bronagh's fight is for herself as she struggles to make a difference in her life.
I might not have known the answers to the play when I first read it, but I certainly recognised this struggle, this woman. Bronagh is not uncommon. The world lashes out at us and sometimes we lash back.
Catherine and I are both passionate about making work that gives a space for people usually on the edge of society, and our stories. And not for novelty or box-ticking sake. We believe these stories can have resonance for all people (not solely women, or artists, or even people who live on the moors).
The fact is, The Moor is saying a lot: about our shrunk and shrinking world and where we fit into it; about what we think is a reasonable response to crisis; and how that might challenge our view of ourselves as empathetic, compassionate people. It's urgent, complex, and intriguing stuff about self-preservation in the face of loneliness.
I'm beyond thrilled to be able to direct this play, to collaborate with Catherine on her first full production and to do the detective work with our brilliant trio of actors, Jill, Oly and Jonny. Catherine and I have worked together on this story on and off the last four years, and while it feels hard to speak about the play's relevancy or its impact without giving away the game, Bronagh's world and efforts have kept us coming back.
We might not yet have the answers, but for us, it's just as important to be constantly asking questions.
But we hope, maybe you'll solve it.