How could you not love someone who would rather have an interval pint than an ice-cream?! Out of the Forest Theatre’s Sasha Wilson gets her 10 questions on
In the space of just a handful of shows, Out of the Forest Theatre have completely won my heart, their music-infused ensemble-based approach proving utterly compelling whether exploring Lizzie Borden’s legacy in Bury the Hatchet or ripping Arthur Miller (and many others) a new one in Call Me Fury. So I was delighted that their Artistic Director Sasha Wilson, cape-wearer extraordinaire, agreed to answer 10 questions for me.
Where were you 10 years ago?
10 years ago I was at Georgetown University in Washington DC, studying English lit and Russian language and doing as many plays through the drama department as possible.
Best show you’ve seen in the last 10 years?
I feel like it’s a bit of a cop-out to say Hamilton. But it was with Hamilton that I was the most excited about a show since I fell in love with Rent as an 11 year old, obsessively listening and relistening to the soundtrack. When I first heard ‘It’s Quiet Uptown’, I sat on the 159 Bus silently weeping until someone came over and asked me if I was ok. To which I responded that I was listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and they nodded sagely and gave my shoulder a bracing grasp that said, “I too have spent time in that trench.” Either Hamilton or Emilia (when Clare Perkins shouted about burning the house down, I was belly up to stage at the Globe and I imagine that feeling was like what being at Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream rally” would have felt like), or Operation Mincemeat (which though I saw it three times at the NDT, I’m livid sold out before I could snag tickets at the Southwark!). I think the unifying theme is that they are all utterly seismic and gut punching and they all bring a misunderstood, mis-remembered or silenced story from history to light: be it one of the founding fathers, a woman of colour who was a poet and writer in a time where women were meant to be seen and not heard, or a covert government mission to foil the Fuhrer.
What has been your professional highlight of the last 10 years?
We just performed Call Me Fury at the Hope Theatre in September/October and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and Clare Perkins both came. During the final speak Clare let out a whoop and I nearly started crying because an utter hero of mine and I were in dialogue about art and connecting about female stories. Then we had a drink in the bar and kept having to pinch myself.
Top flavour of interval ice-cream?
I don’t think I have ever gotten an ice cream instead of an interval pint, but my favourite flavour of ice cream is mint chocolate chip.
What show do you wish theatres would give a rest for a few years?
For God sake, give Arthur Miller a rest.
Name someone who you think is a really underappreciated talent (in the world of theatre)?
SpitLip are up and coming but I doubt they will be underappreciated for long – For the love of God drop that Operation Mincemeat cast album! – but their debut show was hilarious and poignant and gripping and just everything. They deserve all the success and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Elphaba or Glinda?
This may ruffle feathers, but I don’t really care for/about Wicked. Though once as a very small child I met the author of the book the show is based on because he had the same elementary school teacher. Seeing as I love a good ‘misunderstood woman story’ I’ll have to go with Elphaba.
What is one thing that you think would help theatre survive and/or thrive the next ten years?
I think the only way theatre will survive is by giving more stage-time and more support to women, POC, people from various socio-economic backgrounds and making it truly be for more than just the posh white Etonians. As someone who works in the industry, the number of times I have wanted to see something but have been priced out is outrageous. Theatre isn’t a privilege; storytelling is a human right and a spiritual necessity. A nun once told me that what we as actors and theatre-makers do is the most important job of all because we can build empathy. We could use more empathy in our world. And since a nun told me, it must be true 🙂
Which is your favourite theatre?
The New Diorama Theatre. The shows they have there are so so very good and very much unlike what happens across London. I feel there are other places where I feel like I’ve seen the exact same show repackaged again and again and again. But at the NDT, even if I haven’t adored everything I saw there, I was surprised and excited and inspired by the work those young and ambitious companies were doing!
Can you say anything about what’s to come for you, (in the next ten years or otherwise)?
Out Of The Forest Theatre is going back underground to VAULT Festival with a story very near and dear to my heart. It’s called The Brief Life and Mysterious Death of Boris III, King of Bulgaria: Part The First. My grandfather is Bulgarian and I was raised speaking the language at home and I’m thrilled that we’re getting to tell the story about how this little country that many people couldn’t even place on a map stood up to Hitler and saved their Jewish countrymen, women and children from certain deportation and death. It’s a real life David and Goliath story that we’re super excited for more people to hear about!