The writer spoke to us about bringing back Bullet Tongue Reloaded to The Big House.
Hi Andrew. For those who haven’t seen Bullet Tongue Reloaded yet – what can they expect if they come along this time around? Explosive performances. That’s what The Big House is all about. We build a production that allows young talent to really let rip – and they do! Also we get to use a cast of fifteen, which is really rare outside the National Theatre. And at the National all those people would people far away. With this show, you can see the spit fly when the actors speak.
How are you feeling about the production returning to The Big House? Nervous. We were really happy with the audience response the first time around, but we’ve taken more risks this time. In fact, that was the reason for re-staging it – to see how much further we could go.
How did the idea for the show originally come about? Maggie Norris, the director, and Sonya Hale, the first writer, wanted to explore the subject of gangs in county lines drug dealing. It’s a hidden epidemic. Sonya was also interested in the lives of girls in that world and a young woman’s determination to create her own identity. I think that angle is a vital part of the play’s appeal. Lots of the cast have experience or knowledge of that world, so they’ve fed into it all along. Sometimes a whole scene or character can be created from a single comments or memory.
How has it been working with young people on Bullet Tongue Reloaded? It’s always brilliant. This is my sixth show for The Big House and working with these young people is like having an inexhaustible supply of human life to draw on. And they’re so open and fearless compared to me. So even outside of the work I’ve gained a lot of insights, not just about the situations they’ve dealt with but some of my own too.
What do you hope the impact of the show is on audiences? I hope they find the story moving and exciting. That’s always the first priority. And we hope people see the complexity of that world – how people end up dealing or running in gangs for different reasons: some are lured in, then trapped; some seek it out but move on; some feel bad about what they do; some glory in it. And all of those things can be true of one individual at the same time as well. And one thing we’ve stressed this time is that you’re looking at a parallel economy, and a parallel society. It intersects with the one the rest of us live in but has its own rules.
Has there been any changes made to the show since its last run? It’s the same story with rewritten parts and scenes, particularly around the gang life. And the final monologue at the end is more radical. Before, we were worried about alienating not just the audience but those who support our work. But we found that they seemed to be coming with us. So this time we’ve gone further and deeper. We’ll have to see how what goes down.
By Emma Clarendon
Bullet Tongue Reloaded will play at The Big House until the 15th June.