105 Views

Exclusive Black Comedy Interview

Tegan Rogers speaks to Nathaniel Statton about his upcoming production of Peter Shaffer’s ‘Black Comedy’…

The Badger: So tell us a bit about the play.

Nathaniel: It’s about a group of obnoxious people who are thrown together in an apartment one evening. After a fuse blows there’s a blackout and everyone’s plunged into darkness. Disaster ensues as they stumble around, confessing secrets and revealing lies to one another.

B: So why ‘Black Comedy’? It seems like quite an ambitious choice?

N: It is pretty ambitious. I saw it a few years ago, and it’s the funniest play ever. I’ve never seen another play like it: it’s totally unique.

B: So what was it like having to coordinate the actors – especially at the beginning of the play when they really can’t see each other?

N: Yeah, at the start of the play the stage is in actual darkness – it was pretty difficult for everyone involved, especially since there’s quite a lot of furniture on set, so the actors had to memorise where everything is. But once the lights go off and they’re pretending to be in darkness, that was when things got interesting: trying to draw out these big dramatic performances from actors who can’t make eye contact with each other; having to be really upset whilst remembering to bump into things.

B: So did the actors require a lot of guidance to get it right, because surely that must have been pretty big task?

N: Yeah, we did some workshops and rehearsals where we actually did turn off the lights, and got them to walk around the set to get them used to being in the dark. It was hard at first but the actors got used to it pretty quickly. It was big challenge but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

B: How long have you actually been working on it for?

N: We did the proposals for it last term, and started going over the script then. We held the auditions in week one, and we’ve pretty much been working on it for the whole time since then.

B: That must have been pretty tough for a third year, trying to schedule everything in. How have you managed?

N: It’s a lot of work. My social life has suffered. We come to rehearsals for about seven hours, then run off to get back to our dissertations.

B: Oh my God! Has it been worth it?

N: Definitely.

B: Do you have any advice for budding directors at Sussex?

N: Well first of all don’t do it in your third year, if you want any kind of social life. But it’s an amazing experience, working with so many interesting people, and bringing together the whole production. Seeing it all come together, it’s really satisfying.

B: So how did you get into directing plays?

N: Well I’m not really into acting; I joined the drama society so I could get into directing. I spent most of my childhood roping my friends into making films, so it’s just kind of a natural progression from that, to doing something on the stage.

B: Was it tough directing a comedy? Did you have to rely heavily on the actors to make the humour translate?

N: Well they’re all naturally very funny people. That’s definitely what I was looking for in the auditions. We had them doing improvisations and watching their reactions, so you kind of just discover how funny they are. A lot of the jokes are physical jokes, and it’s taken a lot of work to get the timing right. But with a lot of work, it evolved really well.

B: Have you changed anything about the play? Because it’s set in the 60s, right?

N: That’s right. In terms of dialogue there’s been a bit of rewriting, because some of it was a bit dated. But we’ve tried to keep pretty close to how it was meant to be. We’ve probably made it slightly more surreal than the original.

B: How so?

N: It works on using stereotypes, and deconstructing them over the course of the action. We started by really accentuating these stereotypes at the beginning.

B: It sounds great. Any final words?

N: Well I’m not being biased, but it is genuinely a really hilarious play. Even scenes I’ve watched twenty five times I still can’t help laughing out loud at. It’s definitely worth checking out.

B: How does it compare to the production you saw? That’s not a trick question!

N: [Laughs] It’s better!

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
513 views1
Campus News
513 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
58 views
Arts
58 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
97 views
Arts
97 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
96 views
Arts
96 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
119 views
Arts
119 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
141 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
153 views
Arts
153 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
144 views
Arts
144 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
232 views
Campus News
232 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
109 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
215 views
Arts
215 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
143 views
Arts
143 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
213 views
Artist Focus
213 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
149 views
Interview
149 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
217 views
Arts
217 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
239 views
Arts
239 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
277 views
Arts
277 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
191 views
Artist Focus
191 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
201 views
Books
201 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
257 views
Science
257 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
267 views
News
267 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…