Saturday, 20 January 2018

Interview: Carly McCann - For a Black Girl

“Racism and sexism don’t exist,” a friend says one day. He is adamant. “They can’t do. Especially not in the UK.”

It is this sentiment to which Nicole Acquah's new play, For a Black Girl, responds. Tackling female sexuality, violence and everyday racism, the play fuses spoken word, interviews and movement in order to explore the Black British experience. Ahead of its run at VAULT Festival, I spoke to Carly McCann about this production and her role as movement director.


Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what led you to this role?

My love for dance and theatre started as a child growing up in Pittsburgh, and I have been fortunate enough to continue my work throughout my undergrad and now as an MFA student at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. I have always been very passionate about dancing and choreographing, which led to my interest in movement direction.

What attracted you to For a Black Girl?

The script is very powerful. Nikki has so eloquently fused a series of scenes and monologues that embody intersectional feminism in a challenging, thoughtful way that I think the world really needs to experience, especially at present. I saw so many possibilities for the movement ensemble to compliment the script, so I was ecstatic to come on board!

How would you describe the movement ensemble?

The movement ensemble in For a Black Girl specifically provides insight to the female experience throughout the show. The ensemble consists of four women that embody the thoughts and feelings of the main character, Woman. We are her memories, her armour, her support system and her conflicting emotions.

How did you go about the process of blending movement with poetry?

Blending the two art forms has been a thrill for me. It often begins with an analysis of the text itself, understanding the rhythms of the poetry and fusing it with the raw emotions at the heart of each line. Having a dialogue with Nikki throughout the process was imperative to accurately translate her personal feelings, emotions and experiences into physicalised expression.

How have the movement team have added to the story through this process?

The movement ensemble have added a special depth to the story. Just having four more female bodies on stage changes the dynamic completely. In a play with so much text, the movement ensemble provide a different form to in which to understand the content. It adds a level of human connection in a way that cannot always be expressed through text. My hope for the movement is that the audience can ‘see themselves’ in the ensemble, and enrich their all-around experience.

What do you think is the most important message of the play?

People can get so caught up in their own way of thinking that it can be easy to block each other out. To me, the most important message of the play is to listen to each other. Hear each other. Recognise each other, because nothing can change until we do that.

If you had to give readers one reason why they must see For a Black Girl, what would that be?

You must see the show because it tells a vital story that we don’t hear nearly as often as we should. It is intelligent, challenging, fun, heartbreaking and asks the questions that can’t go on being ignored.

For a Black Girl is playing at VAULT Festival from 24th-28th January.


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