Sáoirse Goes speaks to the experimental theatre collective about their new work in progress,You’re Needy (Sounds Frustrating) and their experience expanding their work outside of Ireland.
Founded in 2020, the experimental theatre company Tasteinyourmouth, is composed of three young creatives –Grace Morgan, Laoise Murray and Will Dunleavy. Following their successful run Narcissus, written by and starring Dunleavy, at Smock Alley Theatre as part of the 2021 Dublin Fringe Festival, the company brought the visceral play across the Irish Sea to Chiswick Playhouse. The company are currently working on their second production in London, entitled You’re Needy (Sounds Frustrating), which runs as part of the Calm Down, Dear 2022 Festival at Camden People’s Theatre. In this light, I sat down with Grace Morgan and Will Dunleavy ahead of their first run ofYou’re Needy (Sounds Frustrating).
As the pair join me via Zoom from the Airbnb the production will be staged in, Morgan excitedly exclaims “where do we start?” in beginning to detail the development process for the show, palpably elucidating her passion for the project. Explaining the core facts of the project, Dunleavy asserts that You’re Needy (Sounds Frustrating) is an immersive piece for one audience member set in the bathroom” and thus features one actor, Laoise Murray as Carrie, and one audience member. He continues, noting that “one of the initial impulses behind it was that we were looking for a show that we could do in Covid conditions, so obviously one actor and one audience member made it kind of suitable for that”.
However, as Morgan further elucidates, following its conception in her kitchen during lockdown, “the minute we thought of the show, we realised it wasn’t suitable for Covid, because you couldn’t ask to sit to close to someone else in the bathroom”, adding with a comedic undertone, “so that instantly went out the window!”. Following a digital work in progress version of the show with Corcadora as part of Show 2020, Tasteinyourmouth have been working on You’re Needy since, finetuning the script, idea and concept. Morgan stresses that the version they are presenting for Calm Down, Dear is still a work in progress, so “it’s the first time it will be shown live for audience members and so we’re interested in the idea of whether it has to be a specific bathroom”, prompting experimentations with this versions, notably questioning “can we bring this to any bathroom?”.
Touching on the Covid-related conditions of its initial conception, Morgan describes the idea behind the project as being born form “the idea of wellness and the wellness industry” as well as the idea of“self-preservation during lockdown”, harking the imagery of “everyone just sitting in their houses doing facemasks and their skincare routine” which she aptly explains “became bigger than it normally is”. Despite digressing that “we don’t bow down at the altar of Gwyneth Paltrow”, Morgan expands on their focus on the wellness sector, noting that “all of us would have an interest in that industry and, I think, in a way, everyone does”, citing activities ranging from yoga, deep breathing and meditating, to incense and scented candles. These elements, which have increasingly become of our daily routines, thus provide the focal point behind You’re Needy and, as Morgan continues “we wanted to look at how they have managed to creep their way into all of our lives on a different scale, which is another reason why we ended up veering into an exploration of that industry”.
In terms of the technical setup of You’re Needy, the theatre company highlight the challenges of setting up a production in the bathroom. Indeed, Morgan highlights that “one of the things we’ve talked about a lot is power” wherein “a lot of the things we’ve had to use is wireless or on Wi-Fi”. This showcases the young creatives dipping their toes in with this level of technology, while needing to resolve the issue of queuing the piece. As Morgan explains “we had to have a camera in the room with Laoise and we sit in the other room with the monitor and watch her”. With these challenges, she continues, “a lot of it is relying on the strength of the internet and on technology not throwing a tantrum”. However, through the production’s nature as a work in progress, the pair note that “once we come out of it, we’ll have figured out if they work and if there are better options”. Despite this,
Dunleavy emphasises that “the highlights are also the challenges on the flip side”, in terms of rehearsal space – which, as Morgan comically notes, “the fact that we had to rehearse in a bathroom was also super fun because it was totally weird”. In this sense, the work in progress has been a process, according to Morgan, of “sacrificing yourself to the fact that at this stage, with this version, we won’t have as much control as we would like”.
Commenting on their experience in producing a show outside of Ireland for the second time, both Morgan and Dunleavy exclaim that “it’s been great”. As Morgan notes, “it’s nice because, being in our own venue, we’re kind of left to our own devices”, while Dunleavy extends this point, asserting that “as it’s a work in progress, it’s not the level of pressure that the other shows have” as well as having only a small number of tickets to sell, due to the setup of the show, which runs in 25-minute slots, four times per day. Additionally, noting the differences of working as part of a festival, Morgan explains that “it’s definitely been different and more relaxed, it’s been great to work with a new team and with a new venue”. As big fans of the curators of this year’s Calm Down, Dear Festival, Figs in Wigs, Tasteinyourmouth distinctly emphasise their excitement to finetune You’re Needy at Camden People’s Theatre.
Following this production of You’re Needy (Sounds Frustrating), which runs until May 26th , Morgan hopes that “everything kind of blows up – the design, the script – that we’ll rework everything depending on the level of interaction and openness with the audience and the things and expectations that lie around their role in it might have to be readjusted”. The pair agree that “the definite is that we know we want to make it bigger, the other things are up for grabs depending on how it goes”. In this sense, as Morgan explains, “for me, it’s one of the most important works in progress that we’ve done, in that we rely so much on audience feedback, we’ll be actively seeking it in order to change it, because this is new territory for us”. From this, in Dunleavy’s words, audiences can expect a “very individual experience” from You’re Needy (Sounds Frustrating) while jokingly Morgan stresses that “we won’t scare them too much”. This introduces an exciting year for Tasteinyourmouth, who are currently planning another work in progress for November, an opera with Dublin-based ensemble,