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Interview: Exploring these words with Lucy Betts

Lucy Betts chats about directing these words that’ll linger like ghosts till the day I drop down dead

When she isn’t being an Associate Artist at the Watermill, Lucy Betts can be found hanging out as Resident Director of Chewboy Productions, a company no strangers to this website.

Right now this means being busy working on their next project, the interestingly titled these words that’ll linger like ghosts till the day I drop down dead. And yes, we know there are no capitals in that title, that’s intentional by Chewboy (you can find out just why in our podcast with writer Georgie Bailey here).

Being such fans of Chewboy’s work though, one interview really isn’t enough, so we found time to chat with Lucy to ask those questions we may have forgotten to ask Georgie!

Hi Lucy, lovely to chat again. We know we asked Georgie this recently, but why don’t we kick off with that title, both its length and lack of capitals, what’s your opinion on what it’s all about?

To me, the title feels like thoughts tumbling out without control.

Title and lack of capitals aside, how would you describe the play to someone thinking about coming along?

The play is an exploration into how we process grief, and the lifelong journey it brings to try and understand it.

The play is another two hander, but you’ve brought in new actors to work on this, do you feel it was vital to do so and not have Georgie and Hal fill the rolls this time as they have done before?

I know that this piece is deeply personal to Georgie, and draws a huge amount from his own experiences. It felt right to create some space – so that Georgie and Hal could have a different perspective throughout the creative process. Chewboy as a company also prides itself on collaborating with different creative partners. It is really important to bring fresh and exciting perspectives to the work we create.

Chewboy’s work is always a little leftfield and meta, is “these words…” going to add to that canon?

As you know, we love playing with form and exploring how we tell the stories that matter to us. This play is certainly no different. ‘these words…’ tackles a subject that everyone has experienced in a very ‘Chewboy’ way.

And as a director, what sort of challenges does it present when the work can be interpreted in so many different ways? Do you have to avoid putting too much of your own opinion of what it means into the directing?

The joy of storytelling is that everyone brings their own life experience to it – everyone will resonate with a story, a piece of music, a painting in very different ways. What I connect with might be completely different to what someone else might. As a director it is my job to collaborate with the company to find what the truth of the play looks like in the rehearsal room. I think it’s vital that everyone is able to bring their own opinions and feelings and be able to share them.

We assume that the writer is always close at hand during the rehearsal process, do you have to kick him out of the room at times to stop him interfering too much?

Georgie and I have worked together for many years and have a brilliant working relationship – we are very happy to make suggestions to each other! We’re lucky that it has never been awkward or uncomfortable. He is brilliant at understanding that when he hands over the script, it becomes the company’s story.

The play has a very obvious astronautic theme to it, has this allowed you to get quite experimental in how your actors will move around the space?

The structure of the piece is actually what is allowing us to play around with this – we jump in and out of action, move quickly between locations and build the world around us with very few physical objects. The actors, Tessa and Dan, are incredibly open to playing with these ideas and I feel very lucky to be working with them.

Georgie briefly mentioned to us that the set design was taking shape and seemed to suggest that the set would add to the whole space theme, care to elaborate on that, or is it going to be a secret until we see the show soon?

I’m pretty sure there’s a sneak peek at the model box on the Chewboy social media pages, but people will have to come see the show to find out fully…

Our thanks to Lucy for taking time out of rehearsals to chat to us.

these words that’ll linger like ghosts till the day I drop down dead opens at The Pleasance from 13 June. Further information and bookings can be found here.

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