Steering the Flock towards “Animal Farm”

With ‘Animal Farm’ running in Garter Lane from August 23rd to September 1st, we got in contact with Rhiann Jeffrey, the director for this production for a quick interview, discussing her past experiences in Theatre, her opinion on Waterford and her thoughts on the upcoming production.

Question: How did you first get involved in the theatre?

Rhiann Jeffrey (RJ):
I was an actress in Manchester before I moved to Belfast to study drama at Queens. I fell in love with directing then. I was very much part of the University drama society scene and worked a lot with local theatre companies behind the scenes to gain an insight into the industry. I was lucky enough to be awarded a BBC Performing Arts Fellowship Award to work as a resident director with Prime cut Productions, and directed my first professional production with them in 2015. I am now Associate director of the company, and continue to work as a freelance director across the UK and Ireland.

Rhiann Jeffrey, the director of Waterford Youth Arts' 'Animal Farm'.

Rhiann Jeffrey, the director of Waterford Youth Arts' 'Animal Farm'.

Q: What was your first impression of Waterford?

RJ: I love it. It’s so quaint. It’s such a beautiful place and there’s a real buzz around. People are also incredibly friendly. I do sometimes need subtitles though.

Q: What was your reason, for selecting ‘Animal Farm’?

RJ: It’s incredibly relevant to our current global political ecology. It’s a great allegory… looking at the worst of humanity through the lens of farmyard animals. Orwell’s writing is a part of the most prolific theatrical cannon for a reason – and Peter hall’s adaptation for stage does not let it down. The material gives the young people the opportunity to learn and strengthen their techniques in acting, music and movement. The play will enable us to have an exciting and fulfilling rehearsal period with the potential for a truly effective production.

Q: What is your vision for the production?

RJ: I don’t want to give too much away. But expect a lot of attitude, punk music, hairspray, and epic 80s-inspired costumes.

Q: How are you finding it working with 30 young people?

RJ: They are a super enthusiastic and energetic group. Which is fantastic for my soul and slightly less fantastic for my vocal chords. But they are incredibly talented, warm and super supportive of each other which is lovely to see. They are really politically engaged and full of brilliant ideas. They will definitely create something very special.

Q: Your working with a team of local people, how do you find it working with your current team?

RJ: I am stealing them and taking all of them back to Belfast with me. They are fantastic people and seriously talented. I am super excited to see what comes from our collaborations together.

Q: Why should the local audience come and see your show in August?

RJ: The young people are putting so much effort, love, talent, imagination and skill into this show. It’s not your traditional high school version of Animal Farm. It’s gritty, raw, daring, funny, clever; with tons of energy, movement, music and FUN. You will not want to miss this one!

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