‘Heartfelt’ ‒ In conversation with the directors and producers of Things I Know to Be True

‘Heart-warming, heart-breaking, heart-felt’. These are the words used to describe EUTC’s upcoming production of Things I know to Be True and for good reason. Andrew Bovell’s play centres around the trials and strains on the hearts of Bob and Fran, and their four children, as their relationships change as they each try to find their own way in the world. 

Bedlam Theatre is no stranger to topical or challenging productions and Things I Know to Be True is set to be no different. In a time where generational lines are fiercely drawn and the question of identity is inescapable, the play’s production team have focused on exploring the relatability of the play in its ability to connect with audience members of all ages and experience. 

The Student sat down with directors Marie Rimolsrønning and Alice Foley, producer Douglas Stephenson, and movement director Lydia Housely to discuss the upcoming production.

The play centres heavily around family connections. What did you want to highlight within that theme?

Marie: The main thing [within the play] is probably how no family is perfect, and although you always love your family, you may not necessarily like them or get along with them. [It explores] how it’s important to show, especially to people our age, that when you grow up and you move out of home, when maybe you don’t agree that much with your parents or your siblings, that you can still love them and get along with them.

Alice: There’s also a lot of emphasis on how change is OK, one of the key points in the play is one of the characters learning that not everything is going to stay the same and that’s OK. As long as you still love people, it’s OK — that’s just life, that’s how it works.

Are there any key points of tension that you think are the defining moments?

Alice: In the play, every child has one of these moments. It’s been really important to get those right. They’re so different, and they each deal with very relevant topics. It was hard to get that right.

Marie: …Especially while making sure that the actors were OK — because it’s so intense.

Doug: Because of the intensity of the issues and themes, throughout the whole of the rehearsal process we wanted to make sure we had a really strong welfare approach. I did welfare training over the summer, [and we performed] mindfulness exercises at the end of rehearsals. It was important for actors to be able to break out of that mindset at the end of rehearsal processes because we are discussing a lot of topics that are quite hard to explore.

Is the play particularly pertinent for a student audience or can everyone relate to it?

Marie: It depends whose perspective you approach it from. We (the production team) have spoken about how we all identify most with the character Rosie because she’s a student, but I do feel that if my parents saw it they would identify more with Bob and Fran. Because I think the characters are all at such different points in their life, you can look to the one you relate to the most. 

What interpretation did you take from the script?

Alice: One thing that did we take from the script was that there is a lot of humour in it. And even though it is a dark and heavy play, it also has this beautiful humour that a family all shares because they’ve all grown up together. So we’ve really tried, when we can and when it’s appropriate, to make it as happy as it can be. That’s definitely what we tried to find in this [otherwise] heavy play; it makes you more sympathetic to the characters.

Doug: The one word that comes to mind is ‘heartfelt’. [The play] really is so heartfelt. There are peak of comedy, peaks of family, but there are also the troughs. I think that what we wanted to show there was the natural human beauty of the show.

You have been warned by Marie: bring tissues to the show and expect a phone to call your parents afterwards. Things I Know to Be True runs at Bedlam theatre until 12 October.

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