How has everything been going so far?
Tia: It’s been going really well, I think. We open next week, so we’re almost at the end of our rehearsal period.
Could you tell us a bit more about your characters?
Tia: Kara is a modern young woman who values her friendships and relationships. She’s very into expressing her identity.
Danielle: Cleo is an academic. She’s very outspoken. Jasmine [Lee-Jones, writer] describes her as an Azealia Banks type.
Can you relate to your characters?
Tia: For me, as with any job that I do, it’s always about trying to find the things that you have in common, as well as things that are different, with the character that you’re playing. I do think there are similarities that I can draw from my own experiences that Kara has also experienced.
Danielle: I feel like this is a story about black women, and so black women will relate to these characters because of the experiences they’ve had.
Could you tell us more about Kara and Cleo’s relationship?
Tia: They are best friends who have a longstanding history from early childhood, and they have all the ups and downs that come with that, too. They’ve been able to have lots of fun times and banter but they’ve also gone through massive changes, and sometimes have found it difficult to communicate how they really feel.
Danielle: It’s a sisterhood.
Did you get to know each other quite well while working together?
Tia: I think so! It’s been a really close room. Everyone has really come together and it feels like a family. We’re an all-female creative team, so the space feels very sacred and special. For me it feels like there has been a chance to get to know and understand each other, embrace all our differences and learn from each other’s everyday lives.
Danielle: The way the story relates to issues that women of colour face - it has been really refreshing, beautiful, comforting and freeing to be in a room with women of colour every day. Right now my wig is drying on the radiator and I’m about to get my hair cane-rowed by our wonderful costume supervisor!
And how did you find working with the director, Milli Bhatia?
Tia: She’s absolutely brilliant, a really intuitive director. She allows you the space and the freedom to work out the scene for yourself; she’s not prescriptive, she’s very fluid and freeing.
Danielle: I don’t think I’ve ever been in a space where I feel as comfortable as I do during the rehearsal period. Milli’s really in tune with the fact that we’re literally all human beings. Sometimes we might want to have a cry and she’s very open to that, and we’ll have a hug and push on. I just love that because we’re really able to be our true selves. I’ve worked on a lot of projects where I might be the only woman or the youngest or the only minority and it feels like certain things can’t run. [On this project] I might be five minutes late and Milli will ask me if I’m okay; it’s this duty of care that I really respect.
How did you both come to be involved with this project?
Tia: I auditioned for it; I read the play and was very excited by it and me with Jasmine and Milli on two occasions, and they cast me.
Danielle: It was the same for me.
Do either of you watch Keeping up with the Kardashians?
Tia: Nope! I watched a few episodes of Life of Kylie for research to try and understand some of her world with regards to the title of the play, but I don’t find it very engaging.
Danielle: I don’t watch things that I can’t connect with as a human.
Kylie Jenner has used Instagram as a platform to build her brand - what do you use social media for?
Tia: I personally find social media to be quite time consuming. I have had a Facebook account since its inception which I mainly use to keep in contact with people who live abroad. I also have an Instagram account which I try to use for work-related things, but I don’t have the app on my phone and I try not to engage with it every day, so I’ll only post when I think there’s something important to talk about.
Danielle: I love it so much. I love taking and posting pictures, I love photography. I love the world of Twitter; I was directing a reading and I needed a specific type of actress, so I put a tweet out and it reached over 30,000 people. It’s so good for connecting with other creatives. Also, the amount of jokes I get from reading people’s comments and responses - I don’t know if I would laugh as much without Twitter in my life.
How do you feel about the role of social media in terms of raising awareness of social issues?
Tia: I think it’s a double-edged sword because there are so many people that, rightly so, are allowed to express their views online; but the message can get lost or people can take images out of context. Because there isn’t a more well-rounded view of issues available, people can leave comments without being more informed. I think there’s a lack of information and understanding about cultural history and identity, and people can post certain things without being held accountable for their actions because they’re behind a screen.
Social media has been helpful in raising awareness and boosting campaigns and movements in support of equality for people of colour and other groups that have been sidelined or overlooked. And those elements can only be positive if we’re reaching out to open people’s minds and hearts. But it is also very messy.
Danielle: I’m a big believer that people should be able to say what they want. But there is a lot of racism on Twitter which doesn’t get deleted, and I want to know where the Twitter police are. However, it can also be a beautiful thing; I’ve found so many groups for black women, like the Black Girls Book Club. It can connect me to other women of colour and other creatives, and so I love it for that.
Tia: Social media can also be beneficial for discovering small and black-owned business that you might not necessarily know about. Or events like Black Girl Fest, which I hadn’t heard about until I saw it on Instagram.
Are you excited or nervous for opening night?
Tia: All the emotions! All the feelings! Opening nights are very magical. You open your arms out to an audience to receive the story that you want to share. I imagine I’ll be nervous and excited.
Danielle: I’m really excited. Today, Milli said, ‘rehearsals don’t stop until press night’. So when we open, we’ll perform previews but we’re still going to be changing and adapting things and I’m looking forward to getting in the space, and feeling the energy and what it does to us as performers.
Do you have any rituals before performing?
Danielle: Go to theatre that I’m performing in! [Laughs] No, basically, I don’t.
Tia: Warming up and being in the space is quite important for me, as well as connecting with every person that’s a part of the team.
Lastly, what message would you like to share before opening night?
Danielle: I would like to ask black women to come to the show. This is a show for black women in a theatre that is historically white. So I would like to see at least one black woman in the audience each night.
Tia: Come and see the show if you want to know what it’s about. Don’t ask us if we’re actually going to kill Kylie Jenner! Just come and see it.
seven methods of killing kylie jenner runs in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs Thursday 4 July 2019 – Saturday 27 July 2019. Find out more about the play here.