Guest Blog: Ian Grant On AFTER THE BALL

Guest Blog: Ian Grant On AFTER THE BALL

Through the stories of the characters in After the Ball I try to express some of my core beliefs: we are what we do; what we do can never be undone; our acts have ripple (or explosive) effects long after the act itself; women and men are entirely equal; individual and state violence to other human beings is unforgivable.

In After the Ball we follow a south London family from 1914 to 1971. A similar tale could be told about any European city family who suffered and persevered through the catastrophic wars of the 20th century.

It's a story of resilience in the face of personal trauma. It's a story of political and social bonds that get stretched beyond breaking point. It's story of female liberation and political emancipation and the triumphs and challenges these bring.

After the Ball comes to the stage in the centenary anniversary year of the end of the First World War; on the centenary of the first votes for women in British political history; and opens on International Women's Day, 8 March.

The play emphasises the role of the individual within a social and political context - we see women and men campaigning for the right to vote, for equality in society and for their ability to choose a way of life.

We see women and men falling in love, making good and bad decisions, working as best they can to survive in a society pummelled twice in 30 years by world war. Within that framework is the key theme - that we are all individually responsible for our own actions.

The script tells the story of the characters through naturalistic scenes within a formal, poetic framework. The play moves backwards and forwards in time from 1914 to 1971. The arc of the story is emotional, not chronological.

The set is an open abstract space within which the actors create their stories through the immediacy of their voices and bodies in space and time. The stage vision reflects the brightness of young hopes and the fierce bruising of experience.

I try to write rich new leading roles for older actors, and particularly older female actors. The lack of new material of some of our greatest actors is both a flaw and a huge opportunity in theatre and film today. In my work I stick to the principle that we have at least equal numbers of women and men in the cast.

In After the Ball, the actors have to be highly flexible and shift their sense of older and younger selves sometimes in instant transitions across time from scene to scene. I hope the actors will find those roles meaty and satisfying.

I'm delighted to have met Nadia Papachronopoulou and to be working with her as she directs the play. Nadia is a young Greek director who has already worked extensively in British theatre, and she brings to this story her insight and sensibility. In her reading of the script she has already found things I didn't know were there, under the surface.

The production will be beautiful, engrossing and, I hope, moving. I'm excited to bring as many people as possible to see the work of the very fine actors and creative team who will bring these characters to life.

After the Ball at Upstairs at the Gatehouse 7-24 March

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