Interview With…James Barnes

We chatted to James about bringing The Ballerina to The VAULTS Festival from the 31st January until the 5th February.

How does it feel to be bringing The Ballerina to the VAULT Festival? It’s very cathartic. Theatres closed nationwide on March 16th 2020 two days before we were due to
open so you could say I’m more than excited. And with times having changed, the show isn’t the same, I’ve had to look at it differently. I’m older, wiser maybe or less so even – either way the great ideas I had don’t work anymore and now I’m trying out new things.

What can audiences expect from the show? Audiences can expect a visceral experience, one that starts as soon as they enter The Cavern – Vault’s amazing venue – and endures right up until the very last moment. Not to give anything away but Anne-Sophie Marie has created something unique and unpredictable. If our 2019 production in New York City is any indication, there’ll be something for everyone. A real genre defying piece of work.

What was it about Anne Sophie-Marie’s writing that caught your attention? I played the character of Pacifique Muamba in 2015 and the language, the energy of the man
resonated with me very quickly. It was palpable, I could taste who he was and the world in which he lived. Anne-Sophie Marie had a way of capturing what was in some people’s mind’s, absurd but in ours, a strange normality. It made playing the character very addictive and a few years later – various script revisions too – I asked her if I could direct the piece and start building the world that was required.

What made you want to be involved in bringing The Ballerina to the stage? If not me, who else? When you envisage the world of a play, you kind of have to follow through and make that play. Otherwise you leave everything to chance. Someone else will do it completely different and embellish one part over another – maybe for the better but ultimately you’ll feel like the work didn’t reach its full potential. It’s a compulsion I have I guess, some stories speak to you and those become duties in themselves.

What do you think that audiences will take away from experiencing The Ballerina? A language of violence. The Ballerina opens a conversation about the darker angels of our nature
and what happens when all of that is left unchecked. I’d really love it if audiences leave questioning how they view Geopolitics and the institutions that are supposed to make this world a fairer place.

How would you describe The Ballerina? Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ meets Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’.

By Emma Clarendon

To book tickets visit: https://vaultfestival.com/events/the-ballerina/

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