A show that takes young Katie out of her comfort zone, in a play aimed at a young audience by an Olivier award-winning playwright. Camille LaPaix talks to actor and producer Catherine Lamb:

Catherine Lamb is an actor and producer, as well as the founder and artistic director of Fabricate Theatre, a theatre company that aims to empower and represent young people in theatre. The company’s debut production of Jack Thorne‘s Bunny will be returning to the Tristan Bates Theatre this month. I caught up with Catherine to talk about this young play for a young audience:

Theatre Catherine Lamb Bunny

Catherine Lamb (image courtesy of Brandon Bishop)

Can you tell me a little bit about Bunny?

Bunny is a one woman show. It follows the story of Katie, a 19 year-old student from Luton, on her way home from school one day with her boyfriend when he gets attacked in the street – that is the catalyst for the whole story, everything spirals out of control from there.

The play is about the clashing of cultures and the tensions between different communities at the moment

I was never exactly like Katie when I was 19, but I understood her – I saw parts of me, of friends, of people I knew in her. 

Theatre Catherine Lamb Bunny

Catherine Lamb (image courtesy of Sophie Stevens)

It reminds me of the situation when you see Romeo & Juliet for the first time as a teenager – you identify with the intensity of what the star-crossed lovers are feeling.

Yes! Katie can be pretty awful, but there is something about acknowledging that, about seeing her angst and struggle. I think hindsight lets you realise how overwhelming and confusing it all can be – how worried you were about everything, about what everyone could think. As you get older, you start to care less. While I was reading Bunny again, it hit me how often I felt confused and out of my depth, how you’re always trying to keep up a front.

Playing Katie now opened my eyes to how exhausting that was

You see a huge growth in Katie from the beginning to the end of the play. What happens to her during that story changes her – where at the beginning she isn’t capable of making decisions for herself, at the end she is. She goes through something quite challenging and she is very happy to keep going along with it; then it gets to the point where she has to make a decision one way or the other, which is what happens to most of us. We transition into adulthood as a passenger, until we can’t stay passive anymore.

Theatre Catherine Lamb Bunny

Catherine Lamb (image courtesy of Sophie Stevens)

Fabricate Theatre is brand new and aims to speak to young people. What made you choose Bunny as its first work?

I saw the show for the first time when I was 19 and I never forgot it. It was the first time I’ve ever seen something that I felt really related to me and to my mates. It is quite unusual when you think about it – there are  few shows for and played by that age group. It’s the kind of work we want to be creating and producing, so it was the perfect choice to start with, and Jack Thorne is such a fantastic writer.

Fabricate Theatre is all about producing and creating work for and about young audiences. It’s about the circumstances and challenges that young people face, subjects that matter to them or are familiar to them.

Once you are too old for your parents to take you to the panto, where do you go?

There is so much to be gained from seeing shows – I wanted to make it as accessible to young people as possible. Creating work that empowers them; that inspires them; that tells their stories. Not only are you championing them, but you are also giving them a chance at the beginning of their career because it is so hard to break into it.

Theatre Catherine Lamb Bunny

Catherine Lamb (image courtesy of Sophie Stevens)

So, theatre should be shaped into being more accessible to young people, but should we also change the way young people think about theatre?

Definitely. In the end, it is about championing young people in theatre in general, perhaps more particularly young women. What makes it difficult is the financial aspect – our audience don’t have an expendable income in the way an older generation does. Most of the work young people would enjoy is on the fringe, so our struggle is to get people to hear about it. Once enough people know, we can build on a loyal audience, which is why choosing Bunny was crucial for us, and why being in a central London location is so important.

If you are young today, you need some kind of escape – you need a way of relating to other people, and that is something theatre is amazing at

It gives you the chance to hear other people’s stories and empathise with them, then take that back out with you into the world.

Theatre Catherine Lamb Bunny

Catherine Lamb (image courtesy of Sophie Stevens)

What are your hopes for Fabricate Theatre?

Moving forward, we want to work and empower young playwrights, developing pieces of theatre from the very beginning and right the way through to staging them. We have an all-female team, so we are particularly keen on socially engaged pieces of writing by  young peoplefrom all backgrounds  across the world . The subject matter has to be something relatable to them.

When you say “young people”, at what age does it begin, and where does it end?

That’s a tricky question, isn’t it – when do you become a grown-up? The young generation is much wider, with people going to university for a longer amount of time, or later in their life, trying to figure out a million things at a time. The rent going up; being unable to get a job; sexual awakenings; mental health; these are all issues for the young generation as a whole. Our theatre is less about getting married, dramatic affairs and having babies, but more about this transitioning feeling of belonging neither here nor there.

That is what theatre should be about: a sense of belonging for everyone without exception

 

To read more about Bunny, which plays at Tristan Bates Theatre until 27 January 2018, follow the theatre company on Twitter (@FabricateTheatr) or visit their website – www.fabricatetheatre.com