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‘Mum’ a new play from the Olivier award-winning writer of ‘Emilia’  Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and the producer of ‘Fleabag’ and ‘Baby Reindeer’ Francesca Moody Productions

MUM (image by The Other Richard)

Francesca Moody Productions, Soho Theatre and Theatre Royal Plymouth in association with Popcorn Group have announced MUM an urgent new play by Olivier award-winning playwright Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (Emilia, The Globe/ West End), directed by Abigail Graham (The Tyler Sisters, Hampstead Theatre; soon to direct Aladdin at Lyric Hammersmith).  MUM will run at Theatre Royal Plymouth from 30 September – 16 October before transferring to Soho Theatre, London from 20 October – 20 November.  Press Night will take place at Soho Theatre on 26 October.  Casting will be announced in due course.

This unmissable new play is a collaboration between Francesca Moody Productions, original producer of Fleabag and the Olivier award-winning Baby Reindeer, and writer Morgan Lloyd Malcolm whose hit show Emilia won three Olivier Awards in 2020.

All you wanted was one night of unbroken sleep, what have you done? 

Motherhood. No one can prepare you for it. No matter how much you tell yourself you can do it – can you?  Where’s the rush of love? When will you sleep again?  What if the thing you fear most is also the thing you crave?  All you wanted was one night of unbroken sleep, what have you done? 

Nina is a new mum and tonight is her first night off. Tonight is about pizza and wine and letting go. But Nina didn’t feel prepared for motherhood and isn’t sure she fits the job description. Nina feels like she’s losing her grip.

This thought-provoking, funny and honest new play shines a light on early motherhood, anxiety and mental health. MUM examines the pressures, neuroses and complex emotions many women experience when they have a baby. At a time when mothers have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic, never has it been more pertinent to explore these issues.

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm said:
‘I wrote this play to understand my own experiences post birth.  I wanted to explore the anxieties and fears that can emerge in those early months when you are sleep deprived, overwhelmed and struggling.  I also wanted to write something that would say to other new parents ‘you aren’t the only one’ but that also delivered some hope.  It’s certainly a bit of a rollercoaster terror ride but it’s also testament to the love of a new mum and what we are capable of.  I hope it continues the conversations already happening around postnatal care and parental mental health.’

Abigail Graham said:
 ‘MUM gets right to the heart of what it feels like to be a new mother. I became a Mum this year, and I can see my own experience reflected in our protagonist Nina’s story. It’s a real privilege to bring that to life and offer audiences the opportunity to empathise with early motherhood. MUM will be an intensely theatrical experience- it’s a form defying rollercoaster of a play. I’m looking forward to being in rehearsals with our first class team of women and non-binary people and working in a way, which is sustainable for everyone involved.’

Francesca Moody Productions, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Soho Theatre and Popcorn Group said:
‘We are delighted to be co-producing Morgan’s thrilling psychological drama. At a time when so many have been isolated during the pandemic, including new parents, this play feels even more urgent.  Morgan is a writer of singular talent and an important voice for change in our sector, we are proud to be working with her and a team of entirely female and non-binary creatives, many of whom are young parents themselves. After such a challenging time for everyone in the theatre sector, this co-production is an exciting partnership between our organisations, each independently committed to presenting bold and brave new writing and we are so pleased to be able to come together to share MUM with audiences in Plymouth and London.’ 

MUM is written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, directed by Abigail Graham, the associate director is TD Moyo, set and costume is designed by Sarah Beaton, lighting by Sally Ferguson, sound by Anna Clock and movement by Annie-Lunette Deakin-Foster.

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Director Abigail Graham on Death of A Salesman, Molly Sweeney, Love Actually, Mike Leigh and more

Abigail Graham is a freelance theatre director and artistic director of OpenWorks Theatre. Her work includes Black Sheep, DEBRIS and Molly Sweeney.

Abigail is currently right in the middle of rehearsals for Death of a Salesman at the Royal & Derngate. The production runs in Northampton from 8 to 29 April 2017, before touring to Cambridge, Bath, Malvern, Exeter, Canterbury, Portsmouth, Edinburgh and Truro. Graham’s production is the first independent tour from the Royal & Derngate. No pressure.

 

Abigail with Mike Leigh

Hi ya! Royal and Derngate is quite a good theatre isn’t it?
Yes. The team are wonderful, a really  creative, supportive atmosphere.

 

What was the last new play you saw and left thinking – ‘bloody hell!’?
Castorf’s version of The Brothers Karamasow at the Volksbuehne in Berlin. It was epic.

Why should we come along to see your Death of A Salesman?
Firstly, it’s an extraordinary play, and we’ve got a brilliant team of actors and creatives; all of whom are working to open this classic up to a new generation of theatre goers.
It’s also a mind bending, time bending play – like being sucked into a whirlpool; Miller takes us into Willy Loman’s head and that opens up exciting staging possibilities as you leave objective reality and enter a more subjective world.  The creative team and I have enjoyed meeting that challenge and we hope the audience will enjoy coming on that journey with us – being sucked into the whirlpool too if you like. The cast are incredible – at the end of week two I’m pleased to say they’re all being really brave. So all being well, audiences will be in for a really good night out.
Crucially, Miller wrote it to ‘put a timebomb under the bullshit of American capitalism’…and considering the current political climate, it feels like a good time to be having that conversation.

Molly Sweeney was a quite successful wasn’t it. Do you have fond memories of that time?
Yes – having Brian Friel as a pen pal was really humbling. I miss him.

Death of A Salesman

Your production is the first independent tour from the Royal & Derngate. Nervous?
Not really, I’m looking forward to the play meeting audiences from all over the country. With a play as political as this one, I reckon it will be really interesting to see how people from opposite ends of the UK respond to it.

What’s your No 1 piece of Directing advice?
Keep learning.

Death of a Salesman is a classic text full of broken and misplaced dreams. Is it a metaphor for life?
I hope not.

Are you looking forward to Love Actually for Comic Relief?
(Let’s hope the hot French guy is in it thought.) Will Emma Thompson be re-enacting my favourite bit? You know the bit I mean….

Does Tim Piggot Smith have any dressing room demands?
I.e cayenne pepper, and rose-scented candles, rooms must maintain a constant temperature of 68 to 75 degrees etc etc. Not as far as I’m aware….

Can you tell us a bit about OpenWorks Theatre company?
Sure – I set up OpenWorks in 2013 as I believe you can only change who goes to the theatre if you change who makes it. On a very basic level, we are working to create a holistic relationship between art, outreach and audience development. It started out with each member of the creative team having a paid mentee who was in rehearsals afternoon a week, they then act as ambassadors for the show amongst their peers; giving word of mouth only discount codes to members of their community who haven’t been to their local theatre independently before.
It’s now evolved; our current commission, a new play by Caroline Bird, was inspired by a Looked After Young Person who was a trainee on our last production. I can’t say too much, but we were chatting about zombies and it all came from there. Following an exploratory week with him and his peers, Caroline has gone away to write the play, and we hope to return to the group and workshop it with them and some actors, and then when we go into production to keep them as trainees who will act as ambassadors for the work.

Mike Leigh is your hero, isn’t he?
I love his work. I saw All or Nothing in the cinema when I was at university; I had never seen acting like it. I guess he’s one of my heroes because he just keeps doing his thing his way, making the work he wants to make the way he wants to make it. He came to see Molly Sweeney at The Print Room. We ended up chatting for about an hour after the show.

Is there anything you’d like to add, Abigail?
Nope. Have a lovely week.

Death of a Salesman will run at the Royal & Derngate from 8 to 29 April 2017.