York independent theatre company Hedgepig stages Miss Julie this week, an emotionally-charged play by August Strindberg. YorkMix caught up with co-founder director Andy Curry to find out more
Who are Hedgepig Theatre?
Hedgepig Theatre was founded by actor Gemma Sharp and myself two years ago – but Hedgepig is made up of a number of regular collaborators who’ve worked with us on our various projects – including costume designer Julia Smith, composer Alexander King, lighting designer Kelli Zezulka, filmmaker Mike Ritchie, Actor Bill Laughey and many many others. Hedgepig is whoever is working with us at the time. We’re an every growing entity!
What inspired your love of theatre?
I came late to theatre – initially studying film directing and writing. But a chance occurence led to me being cast in a play, quite by accident and quite against my intentions. I went ahead with it though, and fell in love with the thrill of live performance, changed the entire aim of my training and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s the second most important chance occurence in my life.
What has been your most rewarding experience?
Sitting in the back of the theatre watching the audience response to our opening night of Playhouse Creatures – our first production, and my directorial debut. I’ll remember a scene near the end, the whole cast on stage, an incredibly tragic moment – and there was an audible gasp from the audience. You could feel the electricity in the room at that moment and I wanted to jump up and down with excitement. It was so gratifying to see everyone’s work come together and result in such a beautiful moment. That will stay with me for a very long time.
What’s the play Miss Julie about?
The play is set in the kitchen of a run down 1920s stately home. It’s midsummers eve and, as is tradition, the family have gone into town allowing the servants to throw a party of their own. But the young firebrand countess, Miss Julie, has other ideas. Her actions that night will uncover the dark history of the household, and destroy the lives of the servants who work there…
Who is Miss Julie, and will modern audiences recognise her?
Miss Julie is a young countess, but with a very unusual upbringing. The product of a free-thinking mother and a disciplinarian father, she has grown up both loving and loathing the two sides of her family. She is reckless, self-destructive, violent and naïve. But at heart she is an emotionally-damaged child. Miss Julie ultimately craves nothing more than security and love – two things that were absent from her upbringing. Whether or not she’ll even allow herself these things, such is her self-destructive nature, remains to be seen.
It’s written by Strindberg: does that mean it’s a little dark?
Yes indeed! Strindberg had an incredibly tumultuous personal life and this comes out in all of his writing. He revelled in the psychological warfare waged by couples, friends and lovers. In Miss Julie this “battle of brains” is played out between three deeply corrupt characters – all of whom have agendas, none of whom are what they seem. Despite their ostensibly horrible personalities, each of the characters are very human, acting the way they do for very sympathetic reasons. It’s difficult to know who to root for: who is the villain, who is the hero?
What’s the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened to you?
I think as an actor I’ve had loads of moments where I’ve stood back and taken stock of what I’m doing. For example, on the set of The Legend Of Beggars Bridge, stood on the deck of a three mast vintage sailing ship in period dress at three o’clock in the morning, being asked to look wistfully towards the horizon, wind blowing dramatically in my hair, whilst a camera crew run around… there are moments like this that you take a pause and think “how utterly ridiculous and how completely wonderful I get to do things like this”. There are others: being chased by a horde of Vikings, stabbing Vampires under bridges… These moments are easily the most bizarre and wonderful and I’m eternally grateful for the people who allow me to be in such privileged positions!
Name your favourite: actor, film, TV programme, comedian, musician.
I could write this list a dozen times with different answers – but what comes to mind immediately is:
Actor – Albert Finney
Film – Once Upon A Time In America
TV – The Wire
Comedian – Andy Zaltzman
Musician – Josh Ritter.
Where are your favourite places to hang out in York?
Our next production is the return of our pub theatre tour Double Barrel. We toured York pub rooms with a stripped back and intimate performance of two adapted short stories (last time it was Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat and Charles Dicken’s The Signalman) and the response was incredible. We were turning people away at the door, and the audience feedback was incredible.
So we’re taking the same format back out again at the end of March with two new pieces and a bigger cast.
- Hedgepig Theatre’s production of Miss Julie by August Strindberg is at the Upstage Centre Theatre, 41 Monkgate, York from Tuesday, January 22 to Saturday, January 26
- More details on the Hedgepig Theatre website
- Tickets cost £7 and £9, and are available from the Theatre Royal website