The director spoke to Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon about Busking it, now playing at the Shoreditch Town Hall.
Hi Guy thanks so much for talking to me. What can audiences expect from Busking It? It’s a glimpse into a London we don’t normally get to see. And the story is peppered with the most glorious songs – if you heard them on your commute, they’d lift the spirit and transport you away from dingy tunnels and the daily grind of city living. The house opens an hour before the show for drinks and live music in our jazz venue-cum-tube tunnel underneath Shoreditch Town Hall.
What attracted you to Danusia’s play? I love that the stories are all inspired by real encounters Danusia had with strangers while she was singing on the underground. Together they articulate what it feels like to be a Londoner today. And I love working with live music. But to be completely truthful, it was Danusia who asked me to direct the play. We were both working at the RSC in Stratford in 2016, and we were put in the same house. The shows we were working on were chunky canonical plays with big casts. Dreaming up something small and personal was a fun escape from work.
How did you approach directing it? It’s a process of listening: listening to Danusia’s vision of the story, and her perspective on the world, and supporting her to articulate that in the clearest way. We worked on the text together, finding a story that could bring together all of the characters. We worked together with Adam Cross and Joe Archer – two wonderful musicians who were both part of the RSC shows that we were working on – to weave music into the show. It’s a show about Danusia’s love of music, so that is an integral part. We put together a group of amazing creatives to bring it to life: designer Bethany Wells has designed the space to be part tube tunnel, part jazz venue, and it’s an amazing place to spend some time.
What would you like for audiences to take away from the show? I hope that it’s an optimistic play. We have taken the play to Edinburgh, Walthamstow and Aldeburgh as part of HighTide. It’s been different every time – both because we’ve been developing it, and because the audience contribute to the show. Over the course of the run in Shoreditch we’ll be using audiences to create a playlist of Londoners’ favourite songs. The playlist will grow over the course of the run. You can listen to it on Spotify.
How would you describe Busking It? Soulful, tender and funny.
What are you most looking forward to about London audiences seeing it? Busking It is coming home: we’ve done it around the country, but it’s really a London show. We can’t wait for it to be in Shoreditch.
By Emma Clarendon
Busking it continues to play at Shoreditch Town Hall until the 20th October. For more information visit: https://shoreditchtownhall.com/whats-on/busking-it