UNSOILED is a new, student-written play debuting next week at the Corpus Playroom. We spoke to the show's Writer and Co-Director, EWAN MARTIN-KANE, to find out more about the show.
You’ve described Unsoiled as “the ballad of Briggsley village.” Where exactly is Briggsley village, and why are its people worth singing about?
Briggsley village is the heart of our play. It’s a made-up community of eccentrics, hopefuls, and scoundrels muddled and huddled together somewhen in this country’s past. However, this tale begins with a discovery we’ve never yet come across: the Briggsley folk realise that their soil has suddenly decided to refuse their entry. The ground no longer yields a crumb for any of them, nor for their ploughing sticks or seeds. Our play’s plot spirals out from this peturbance, and shows how the parochial people of Briggsley village sing and shout in response to a ground which abstains them.
And do they sing often?
In writing a play set in a place unmapped and unrecorded, I was able to enjoy a freedom from the idiom of any one region or period of time. Unsoiled is therefore full of lyrical dialogue, novel rhymes, newly-wrought phrasing, and idiosyncratic repurposing of our language’s rattle bag of words. This sometimes means that the characters drift into lullaby, limerick, or love song. Unsoiled is not a musical! But it is musical throughout.
For a show in the Corpus Playroom, there’s a rather large cast of sixteen. How has that been to direct?
A pleasure. Unsoiled is a play very interested in claustrophobic community, and the large cast has allowed us to stage that feeling in the village scenes. There’s been no claustrophobic feeling in rehearsals however! I wouldn’t wish our crowd of actors was one member fewer: each person has brought their own eccentricity and enthusiasm to the production, and I hope audiences will see that the play is first and foremost an ensemble piece. Just like the actors, every character contributes a unique oddity. Our actors are very good at being strange, and so strangely good at what they do. It’s been a joy to work with a group of such varied experience and backgrounds, and I can’t wait to to let them loose. Cambridge, watch out! The Briggsley folk are coming to visit!