Created to bring together poetry and theatre, and to bridge the classical and the contemporary, Ink and Curtains is a collaboration between queer creatives Faye Draper and Maz Hedgehog.
They recently toured Let Me Count the Ways, a solo show described as ‘a modern classic’ by BelleVedere Theatre company.
Their latest piece is an intriguing look at characters you think you know well.
But it is time to think again.
The Red Queen and Other Monsters is written by Maz and Faye and they revisit classic female characters in classic Literature, such as Medea – who are reviled for their acts.
And here, we see them through a different lens, as they explain themselves or simply revel in their crimes. We caught up with Maz and Faye to find out more.
What inspired you to write this piece?
Faye and I have been friends for nearly 20 years and spent our teens reading these plays and chatting about the characters in libraries and coffee shops.
We’ve always been fascinated by what motivates women like Margaret of Anjou and the double standards that vilify them.
So when it came to creating our follow-up to Closure, this play almost wrote itself.
I love the idea of reviled women in literature now having a voice. Does it feel quite freeing to tell their story from that perspective?
Yes. I was sick of seeing these vicious and calculated women being portrayed in milquetoast and irrational ways. It was so freeing to give them their power back. Also, who doesn’t love playing a villain?
What will both newcomers to these stories get from this production?
Context. It can be really intimidating approaching Shakespeare or Euripides cold, but we hope that newbies see how timeless and universal and fun these women are and maybe even feel better equipped to approach the original texts.
And what about people familiar with the texts?
I feel like they’ll get a more 3D picture of these characters. Our goal is to tell old stories in a new way, so hopefully they’ll get an angle they haven’t seen before. I’m especially interested — as both a writer and an actor — in how trauma passes through families and informs how these women behave.
How challenging is it to write in a voice that already exists in print?
I’m most comfortable doing adaptation because I love riffing on familiar narratives.
The beauty of these stories being so old is that they’ve been remixed so often that we’ve got a hundred sources to pull from. In a sense, it takes the pressure off a bit so it’s really freeing.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this play?
We look at the past like an alien planet, but I want people to understand that human beings don’t change much.
For newbies, I hope that they find an interest in classical texts and realise that they can be exciting, engaging and relevant. I also hope that everyone sees the power and value in feminine rage.
The Red Queen and Other Monsters is at the Hope Mill Theatre from 17th – 23rd July and tickets can be booked here.