We chatted to the team behind Don't Look Away...

We chatted to Grace Chapman from NOVAE Theatre about their new show DON'T LOOK AWAY.

Tell us a little bit about NOVAE and the creative team working on the show?

Myself and Co-Artistic Director Ellie Simpson met in Idle Motion which we founded with friends from school. We spent the best part of 10 years creating shows together from scratch and touring the UK and internationally. In fact, we performed at Harrogate in the past with That is All You Need to Know and cant wait to come back!

NOVAE theatre is the sister company to Idle Motion. We love telling stories with complicated, flawed female characters at their heart. Our theatre is always dynamic, inventive and ultimately collaborative.

Our team for this show are simply amazing. We have long term collaborator and award winning Director Nick Pitt directing the show, Movement Director Dan Canham who has worked at The National alongside an incredibly talented design team who aren't afraid to take risks to push the story and characters. We also have an all female producing team who never fail to surprise us with how capable they are - they just get stuff done! The cast are brilliant as well. When you have such talent in a room it rarely feels like work.

Where did the inspiration for Dont Look Away come from? 

I first got the idea for the show when my Mum and Dad hosted asylum seekers in our home in 2015. After speaking to them about some of the challenges and joys of this I then went to spend some time in Bradford with my Aunty who volunteers with asylum seekers. I was struck by the community of care being built in these cities, from normal people. There is a vacuum of support from the government, which ordinary people are rushing to fill, whether by opening their homes, providing hot meals or teaching English lessons in their spare time. The character of Cath in Dont Look Away embodies this compassion but then, perhaps, takes it too far.

Since then I have been developing the script working closely with charities, like the Refugee Council, as script consultants ensuring the story Im telling is as authentic as possible. Saying this however, the asylum process itself provides more of a structure to the play, the real story and heart comes from the character of Cath who witnesses this impact of this hostile environment' and decides to act.

What are you looking forward to about rehearsals?

We started rehearsals this week! We began with looking in detail at the script, interrogating it line by line (which as the playwright was a daunting experience!). We then spent two days working on developing the movement with Dan Canham exploring some of the murkier inner feelings of the characters. It was two years ago almost to the day that I first invited Ellie and Nick to my house to read a first draft so to see it all come to life is just incredible.

Give us a little snapshot as to what it is like inside the NOAVE rehearsal room?

Well firstly the tea has to be made, that is an absolute priority. Multiple biscuit breaks are a must, as well as lots of laughter. 

What can the Harrogate audience expect from the show?

A brilliantly performed, inventive piece of theatre about an ordinary woman, from Bradford, who does something extraordinary in the face of the international refugee crisis. It poses the questions; how much more can - and should - we do? Where do we draw the line? How much are we willing to sacrifice of our own lives to help others? Should we be expected to? This play doesn't provide the answers but I'm hoping it will trigger some much needed debate.

DON'T LOOK AWAY plays at Harrogate Theatre from WED 24-FRI 26 APR and we are so pleased to have supported the development of the show.

You can get tickets for the show here > https://www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk/whats-on/Dont-Look-Away

You can find out more about NOVAE here > https://www.idlemotion.co.uk/novae-theatre