We interview Barry Heselden about the themes and his vision for the Geoffrey Nauffts penned play Next Fall, our production next week.
What motivated you to direct this play?
I first read this play about six years ago, not too long after its Broadway premier in 2010. It made a great impression on me as it touched aspects of my life and I identified strongly with themes of the play and the main character. I am now very excited to be able to bring this play to life at SLT.
The play explores the relationship of Adam and Luke. Luke is deeply religious, Adam isn’t and he constantly challenges his partner’s beliefs and unwavering acceptance of the bible as a work of truth.
If this sounds all very heavy, it isn’t! The play takes you on a wonderful rollercoaster of a ride, with some wonderful moments of comedy.
Through these six characters, we explore the themes of love, religion, friendship, the afterlife and pumpkin-scented candles.
You’re an experienced director, but have you found new challenges in directing this play?
One of the biggest challenges of directing a play at this time is moving back in to our home in West Norwood to a brand new theatre space. How will it all work, how adventurous can I be with the set, will there be enough toilets?! But, this is SLT and no problem is insurmountable. Working with the amazing Chaz Doyle, we’re going to create a set that will show what we can do at The Old Fire Station.
Tell us about your cast
It’s been a great rehearsal period working with this amazing and hardworking cast.
Mat Hill, playing Adam, impressed us the auditions and has grown into and developed a wonderful character whom the audience will love, laugh with, and, at times, be really annoyed by. Mat’s performance is not to be missed.
Mark Wartenberg, playing Luke, has been a joy to work with. A new member to SLT, he brings a wonderful energy to his character. You will fall in love with Luke.
Jennifer Nettles, playing Holly. This is Jennifer’s first show at SLT. She has created a beautiful character as the long-suffering friend of Adam, strong and independent.
Tom Watts, playing Brandon. Tom has worked hard to bring this very complex character to life. A deeply religious young man, tortured and wracked with guilt, Tom’s portrayal will both anger and move you.
Caroline Doyle, playing Arlene. I was so excited to be able to cast Caroline as she is one of my favourite actors and directors at SLT. Her performance as Luke’s mum is both funny and wonderfully touching.
Robert Hatch, playing Butch. I could probably fill up the website with superlatives about Robert’s performance. His is a joy to watch.
What do you hope the audience might take away from this play?
I hope the audience will firstly enjoy a great play and brilliant performances. I think this will be a play will instigate many conversations in the bar and for days afterwards. I don’t want to give away too much here, so will avoid telling you how this play did and continues to impact on me.
Next fall by Geoffrey Nauffts runs 1 – 5 May at the Old Fire Station. You can buy tickets in advance here. If you wait until coming along on the night, please note that for the time being both box office and the bar will be cash only. Please be aware also that latecomers can’t be admitted until the interval. We look forward to welcoming old and new members back at our refurbished West Norwood home.