Interview with…Cressida Peever

The writer chatted to Emma Clarendon about Shotgun Carousel’s new experience Red Palace, playing at The Vaults from the 24th September.

Hi Cressida, thank you for talking to me. What can we expect from Red Palace? Red Palace is an opportunity for our audience members to don a mask and be whoever they want to be for the evening: they can choose to roam the rooms of the Prince’s luxurious Palace, gamble in Gretel’s Gingerbread House, or even get swept into the forest by an
uninvited guest. The fate of the Kingdom is in their hands. Guiding them are familiar faces from fairytales, eager to reclaim their own stories and test the boundaries of good and evil, which isn’t always clear here…

How did you come about creating the concept for Red Palace?I worked with the same brilliant team – Laura Drake Chambers (Creative Producer) and Celine Lowenthal (Director) – on Divine Proportions last year. Following the success of the show, we regrouped around Laura’s dream to produce a masquerade ball. Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death became our inspiration for the tone of the show – gothic and
dangerous – but we also decided to blend that with Shotgun Carousel’s signature sass and party vibe. From here, each of us researched our favourite figures from fairytale and folklore to populate our ball. We turned this into a shortlist and then I created brand new, detailed biographies and motivations to bring the characters into a contemporary cabaret setting.
We did a week’s R&D to see how these characters fit within our world, and also how they fit with one another. What’s brilliant about this kind of collaborative approach is that it frees me from getting
overwhelmed with the logistics of the show (which are hugely complicated!) and instead allows me to focus on making our storylines and our characters as rich as possible for our audience to enjoy.

How much have you enjoyed working with Shotgun Carousel on the show? So much! I love Shotgun’s intention to put the audience at the centre of the show. It means we’re constantly asking how this line or that moment will make the audience feel, and I hope creates an environment in which the audience can completely invest in the experience. The talent and daring of the other Shotgun Carousel team members has really
excited me and pushed me to raise my game as I’ve been writing.

What are you most looking forward to about seeing Red Palace coming to life? Just seeing it come to life at all is an extraordinary thing! There’s so much brilliant writing out there that goes unperformed that it’s a real privilege to hear my words in the mouths of a company at all. And coupled with the incredible beauty that the designers bring to the show, it makes the whole experience completely incredible. I’m sure I’ll just stumble around
open mouthed for the performances! For me, the best part of hearing it aloud is when a performer is able to take the lines I’ve written and use their own style and attitude in a way that makes me question whether I actually wrote what they’re saying. It’s magic.

Who would you say the show will appeal to the most? Anyone with a sense of adventure, with a thirst to reinvent tired stories.

If you had to describe the show what would you say?
A masked ball like no other; a show to throw yourself at with your whole heart.

By Emma Clarendon

Red Palace will play at The Vaults from the 24th September until the 12th January 2020.

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