Q&A with ‘Apologia’ director – Adrian Tang
Another gem originally planned for our 2019/20 season, Alexi Kaye Campbell’s ‘sharp, funny, raw’ Apologia opens in January 2022 at WT, and we caught up with director Adrian Tang to get a taste of the show and find out what audiences can expect.
Thanks for chatting Adrian, and congratulations! Is Apologia your WT directorial debut?
Yes and it’s been a long time coming! Apologia was one of the plays that was postponed from two years ago and sometimes I pinch myself to make sure we’re actually going ahead with it this time. I won’t tempt fate anymore now that I’ve said that!
What inspired you to direct this play?
I was directing A Doll’s House and I wanted to direct a modern version of a play that had all the hallmarks of an Ibsen drama: set in one location, everything takes place within a short time period with a small cast and with a fantastic female lead role.
I was lucky enough to find Apologia and even more fortunate to find the incredible Katie Hamilton to play Kristin Miller. Her performance is worth the ticket price alone.
Have you faced any challenges getting this play ready for audiences?
Most of the challenges have been, unsurprisingly, COVID-related! When the show was postponed in March 2020, we were only a month into rehearsals and it was a punch in the stomach to have everything stop.
Emotionally, I had shelved directing the play and when I was given the choice to start again after a whole year of not thinking about it, it took me a long time to decide to carry on. Like most people, the previous twelve months had been brutal and having another responsibility on my plate didn’t seem sensible.
But weighing everything up, I realised I had been trying to direct a play on the Wokingham Theatre stage since 2016 so it would be senseless to waste all the work I had put into getting to this point.
I’m glad we pushed through because what we have is an excellent show for you all!
What have been some of your favourite moments from rehearsals?
My favourite moments have been when things are unintentionally hilarious. And there have been so many! Which has made directing this play a pleasure from the start.
What I didn’t realise, until we got the play being spoken out loud, was how funny the characters are. I know we’ve labelled the play as a drama but honestly, they are so many funny moments, especially during the dinner scene. I don’t want to give away too much but things will always be interesting when there’s food and drink on stage.
Being in the rehearsal room is always a joy, but even more so, especially after such a large gap between productions The first rehearsal together as a cast felt great, albeit a little alien to revisit the characters again. But after a while, we got back into the swing of things and there were, what I like to call “happy accidents” occurring.
I feel that my job as a director is to create an environment that supports the creative thinking of not just the actors but crew as well, not a dictatorship. So you could say that I’m in charge of the creative climate control and not in command and control!
Do you plan to direct future projects at WT?
If I cross my fingers very tightly, I would be thrilled to direct at WT again!
But sadly, that is outside of my control. I can only hope that my Muppets version of a Chekhov masterpiece gets the green light!
What other shows have you been involved with at WT?
I’ve been fortunate to perform at WT three times: firstly as ‘Tesman’ in Hedda Gabler, where my love for Ibsen began; secondly sharing the role of ‘Gerald Forbes’ in When We Are Married as well as having assistant director duties; and in the double bill of Audience/The Real Inspector Hound.