Do Not Disturb – the Director’s Preview

Martin Copland-Gray introduces Do Not Disturb, his directorial debut outing at SLT, an intimate two-hander which takes place in a New York hotel room.

What was it that attracted you to this play?

It was 2002 and I was an X-Files fan, smitten with Gillian Anderson. I found out she was starring in a play called What the Night is For with Roger Allam at the Comedy Theatre. I bought a ticket and came down from the Midlands to see the object of my affection in the flesh, so to speak, but what happened over the next two hours transcended those initial base feelings and I was drawn into this story of two people wrestling with feelings for each other that they thought had long since passed. What I was watching was a story of human emotion, woven so beautifully by Michael Weller and executed with passion and tenderness by two actors at the very top of their game.

You’ve been heard to say that you felt it was only now the right time for you to direct this play – what was your thinking?

I’ve always been fairly young for my age – maturity kicked in rather late! Back then I didn’t have the emotional maturity or the life experience to be able to address and appreciate the issues raised in the play, and so be able to support the actors on this rollercoaster of a journey. Since I saw the play, I’ve been to drama school at Birmingham School of Acting, moved to London, got married then separated, and lost my father Douglas in August last year; I’m dedicating the performance of this play to him. Gaining that maturity through those experiences has enabled me to understand most of the emotions experienced by Lindy and Adam, and appreciate what they go through over the course of one night together after ten years apart.

What have you found both challenging and rewarding in directing a two-hander?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have two very strong and committed actors to work with in Laarni and Adrian on this production. This is Laarni’s first straight dramatic role for SLT after two character-driven roles, and this is Adrian’s first time working with SLT. It’s been a challenge asking both performers to delve into their own personal life experiences and search for raw emotions that they can bring to their respective roles. It’s also forced me to dig into my own life experiences and share personal memories that I hope have helped them get over some tricky moments for their characters.

There have been plenty of tears, some tired eyes after full-on rehearsals and we’ve even lost a fair whack of time with both cast members being ill – thankfully at the same time. The rewards though have been plentiful; lots of laughter, some lovely group bonding moments with the rest of our fabulous crew, and I definitely couldn’t have done without the unwavering support of my Assistant Director Helen Downham. It’s been a proper emotional journey for us all.

Tell us a little about the two characters we’ll meet.

Lindy has two boys and is married to Hugh, a member of a prominent Midwest family who is running a weigh-in for Senate. Adam is a successful architect with a wife named Jan, a dancer, and a son. The characters originally met at a book club 10 years previously in New York where they both lived at the time. Now, older and perhaps a little wiser than their younger selves, they meet in Lindy’s hotel room to talk about old times and discuss the road not travelled. Life is all about choices – and for Lindy and Adam, as the conversation revolves around the obvious, what happens over the course of this one night makes them address the choices that they both made, and forces them to consider that sometimes in life you do get a second chance. Question is, if you get that chance what do you do? You’ll have to come and see the show to find out!

Do Not Disturb runs Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 March at the Old Fire Station. Buy tickets here

Rehearsal images by Megan Jordan