Imagine you’re in a play and on the last day of rehearsal your director pulls out. What do you do??? Do you drop the play? Turn around and leave? Quit?
That’s the premise of The Last Company‘s show, Last Rehearsal, showing at Brighton Fringe this year. The London-based BAME ensemble is made up of Chilean, Colombian, Brazilian and British theatre-makers. Last Rehearsal is their debut production and has been awarded British Council funding. I was lucky enough to catch up with María José Andrade, the writer and director of the show, ahead of their opening at The Warren.
Tell me a bit about you – what’s your background?
I am a Chilean artist and producer based in London since 2013. As a director, writer and performer my practice moves across theatre, performance, moving image, music and urban interventions. Last Rehearsal, the show that we will be presenting at The Warren, emerged from my interest in poetry and music. Actually, a fun fact about how this play began, was that I found this book of poems (Mudanza by the award-winning Chilean writer Alejandro Zambra) and started playing the poems as songs. I began performing them in different bars around London. Just me and my guitar. And I have to say the songs were pretty awkward for most of the people as it was mainly just me rapping in Spanish (or speaking very fast in Chilean actually!).
Most of my work has been developed within the performing arts sector through interdisciplinary artist-led collectives, moved by an interest in cross-disciplinary collaborative working processes, with a strong focus in critical cultural discourses.
As a producer, I have initiated and developed various international projects that connect Latin-American artists with European Institutions and vice versa. Most of my producing career has happened whilst working as the International Projects Co-ordinator of the Stgo. a Mil International Festival (One of the biggest theatre festival in South America).
What was the inspiration behind this show?
My intention with this work is to begin. It may sound basic, and actually, somehow it is. But that’s what we are looking for. Last Rehearsal critically exposes our relationship with commitment. How we relate to promises, to success and failure. The play questions its own importance, its own existence. And if we achieve what we are looking for, what we will happen is that we will “begin” as a collective, as a play, even as an audience, in multiple levels. This work marks the beginning of my career as a director in the United Kingdom, therefore it is a hurricane of questions and possibilities. I think that choosing the poem Mudanza)* (Move) by Alejandro Zambra, as inspiration to writing the work, already says more than half of what this work seeks to install.
*Mudanza is a word in Spanish that doesn’t have a direct literal translation, it refers to a house move, or to a removal. But it can be used for many different aspects of your life too in order to convey significant change.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Not really. I just like to be really close to my actors and out of the sight of the audience.
What advice would you give people wanting to enter the industry?
Trust in work, not talent.
Is there anywhere else people can see the show after the Fringe?
We plan to come back to London, as this is where most of us live. But we don’t have fixed dates yet.
What’s next on your agenda?
I am already planning my next show, which has to do with my father who is a great musician with a very particular life story. It will be an exploration of the many parallels and synchrony of both of our artistic careers.
Is there anything you’re excited to see?
Many shows, but mostly I’d like to walk around the city of Brighton and see how you celebrate the Fringe. I love to be taken by surprise. I want to see how you celebrate theatre.
Thanks so much to Maria for the interview! If you’d like to buy tickets for the show, you can get them here.