Soul searching: Amanda Wilkin.We ask five of the playwrights…

Soul searching: Amanda Wilkin.

We ask five of the playwrights undertaking a feminine Faustian interpretation for the Globe’s Dark Night of the Soul a series of questions about the project and their approaches.

Amanda Wilkin is an actor, writer and jazz and blues singer-songwriter. She has performed at the Globe several times, including playing multiple roles in Globe to Globe Hamlet that toured the world. For Dark Night of the Soul she has written a piece called The Little Sob. 

The Little Sob
by Amanda Wilkin
A woman stands in front of a crowd. She’s been called to tell a secret. For our entertainment. She decides to tell a story. To unburden herself. But in order to heal, she’s required to admit the truth.

What made you say yes to Dark Night of the Soul?
I can’t imagine ever saying no to this! I love the Globe and was so excited when I was asked to write a response to the Faustian Bargain. For me, the subject asked big questions, about how we see our soul, and what does it mean to lose a part of yourself. I thought it was a really exciting idea. 

What interests you about the Faustus myth or Marlowe’s Faustus? And what are you hoping to explore with your piece?
What intrigues me about the myth, is that there’s a looming sense of dread afterwards – the question of whether what was asked for was worth it, in the end. I want to explore shame in my play, shame of your own actions, however long ago. We live in a society where we’re quick to pass judgement on others, without knowing the full story. And slow to look at ourselves and how we may have contributed to a situation.

How do you start to write something?
After procrastinating for far too long, I put on some music first thing in the morning. And I start with a voice. A monologue. I need to learn about the character whose eyes we’re witnessing the play through.

What made you want to be a writer?
I’ve been writing forever. But it’s only recently that I found the courage to start sending my work to different theatres and making connections that way. Ultimately, you can put things off, or dismiss yourself as not good enough. But if I didn’t write about how I felt, I don’t know what I’d do! I love theatre. Live performance is so special, because of the unique bond with the storyteller and the audience.

How important is storytelling?
It’s how we record history. It’s how we deal with our feelings – the good and the bad. It’s how we shine a light to ourselves and share something. I believe strongly that storytelling shouldn’t be limited to any certain group of people. All cultures are deeply rooted in storytelling. And our stages and stories should reflect the world we live in.

Would you say that there are any themes you are particularly interested in across your work?
I don’t think that society is good at admitting that we all have the power for good, and bad. We find it uncomfortable. But we have the capacity for both within us. This interests me greatly. Also, after I toured with the Globe for two years performing in Hamlet, I became interested in borders, migration and our and western privilege within that. 

Do you like to be involved in the rehearsal process?
I like to sit in the room and watch the director work with the actors. To hear them wrestle with the script – that’s how you really find out what you’ve written. It’s a group process. Your play takes on a new life when someone speaks the words. It’s magical.

What’s it like seeing your work being performed?
Honestly, the first time I hear something it’s petrifying. But seeing it up on it’s feet… it’s incredible. I feel grateful to be able to do something I love. And grateful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with others. 

What’s it like to be working on a production in chorus with other writers? We all met each other on a workshop day, where we read out bits and pieces we were thinking about or excerpts from books, and just bounced ideas off each other. It was perfect. It’s such a fantastic group and I can’t wait to see what the others have written. It felt like a space where I could speak freely, about the subject, and about what it meant to respond to it as a woman. I love that there was no judging. 

Dark Night of the Soul: The Feminine Response to the Faustian Myth opens in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse on 29 December. 

On four evenings we will perform a selection of the pieces together as ‘Anthology Performances. Check the website to see when Amanda’s response, The Little Sob will be performed.