L-R: Hayley Dawson; Gina Millington; Céline Planata; Credit: BGT

Last Wednesday, Chronicle.lu got the opportunity to talk with the cast, actresses Hayley Dawson, Gina Millington and Céline Planata, and director Tony Kingston of the upcoming BGT English-language play “Wolves Are Coming For You”.

The play, based on Joel Horwood’s 2017 work of the same name, is the BGT English Theatre Company’s first annual showcase play for trainee actors. Indeed, Tony Kingston, director and co-founder of the BGT (founded in Berlin in 1991 before moving to Luxembourg), highlighted the project’s aim to provide a much-needed platform for young, talented actors and especially actresses in Luxembourg to hone their skills and “get experience and exposure” beyond the school setting.

Regarding the choice of play, Tony Kingston said that “Wolves Are Coming For You” presented both a challenge for the actresses and an opportunity to showcase their skills since it features just three actresses playing several different characters. He added that the play was “designed for women”.

For her part, Céline Planata, who plans to pursue her acting career at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) this autumn, highlighted the difficulties of playing various characters, “one, because there are a lot of lines and then two, because you have to distinguish between all the different personalities you play and make sure that it isn’t confusing for an audience member”. She added that these challenges were also rewarding in the sense that character development and dynamics are so central to the play: “the play is built on dynamics between different personalities”. Hayley Dawson agreed on the difficulties of having a small cast, not least because the three actresses “are exposed throughout the entire play”. She elaborated: “There’s no such thing as going off-stage in this production. [...] There is a lot of shared responsibility".

Regarding the challenges facing young women looking to break out onto the acting scene, Gina Millington pointed out that, in general, the most complex roles are created with male actors in mind. Whilst the industry is slowly changing, she emphasised that there is still “more competition between women [since] there are more women going for roles”. Tony added that actresses have historically and still do face sexual harassment in the industry. He also expressed his hopes that this BGT project would in some small way tackle the issue of gender inequality in acting.

Speaking of professional acting careers in Luxembourg, Céline lamented that this was very difficult: “I would rather […] move and have a larger pool of jobs available to me, so I’m going to go to New York and then do a two-year course in L.A., as well”. Gina quirked: “either you’re a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond”. She added that local actresses like Larisa Faber have shown that it is, nonetheless, “possible to have a good, fulfilling acting career here in Luxembourg”, especially if you are fluent in the different languages. Indeed, Hayley cited language as one of the biggest obstacles to professional acting in Luxembourg, where French and German tend to dominate the industry: “There isn’t any professional anglophone theatre here or very, very little [and] acting is something you want to do in the language you’re most comfortable in”.

Returning to the storyline of "Wolves Are Coming For You", Tony highlighted the relevance of the play, particularly with regards rising populism: “it is about the way people turn on outsiders. […] If something’s not right in their lives, they’ll find something outside that to turn their hate on”. Gina added that “as well as the political undertones in the play, […] another point that’s being made is that you can’t judge a character so quickly […] and everyone does have their own story”.

Regarding the benefits of such a project for these young actresses, Céline cited the exploration of different methods, such as improvisation. Despite feeling slightly overwhelmed at first, she stated that “once you are able to distinguish between characters and learn all the lines, […] it makes you see yourself differently and see your capabilities”. Hayley added that the play was different to other works they did in school in that the each of the actresses is “involved in the creative process”, which could be beneficial in the future. For her part, Gina found the focus on character dynamics and “the community feel” rather than on individual characters interesting: “It’s not about your character. It’s about the play, it’s about the story that’s being told”. Tony agreed that “storytelling” is central to the play.

On the subject of casting, Tony said that: “Casting is never really a question for me. It always seems quite obvious when someone walks into the room that’s the role for them”. 

The interview concluded with the cast’s description of the play in three words: relationships; community; stories. Tony added that “questioning” sums up the project as well as the play: “Always ask. […] Never take things at surface value”.

Hayley, Gina and Céline will be performing in “Wolves Are Coming For You” from 5 to 7 September 2019 at the International School Luxembourg. Tickets cost €15 (students €8). To purchase tickets or for further information, e-mail: the.bgt.lux@gmail.com.