Interview with Isabella Javor - RED Women's Theatre Awards finalist playwright

Isabella Javor is a finalist playwright in the inaugural RED Women's Theatre Awards showcase this Sunday 6th March at the Greenwich Theatre, London.

Isabella is an actor, writer, musician, and co-founder of emerging company Paper Cage Theatre. Studied theatre at The BRIT School, and is currently in her graduating year at East 15 Acting School on the BA Acting & Contemporary Theatre course, ‘Dissonance’ will be her debut as a playwright.

Please tell us more about your play Dissonance

Dissonance is set in 2020 England, and follows the story of six survivors after a truly global World War Three. I was always drawn to exploring the idea of human relationships at the beginning of a new age without order, rules, and authority. How would we identify with each other when these imposed layers have been stripped away? How would we confront some of the psychologically comforting conditioning that we would inevitably cling to? This is what came out! A true anarchic spirit; Dissonance is drenched in the current political concepts of my generation, as well as a few conspiracy theories, and explores the duality between religion and consumerism through song. It’s a story that I believe needs to be told, and has something really unusual about it, I’m excited to see what people think.

Why do you think (if you do) that theatre can be a platform for politics?

All arts have been used a platform for communicating ideas and revolutionary concepts, particularly so with theatre. Theatre offers people more than entertainment, more than just a story, it’s an experience. I believe that theatre should be used as a way to encourage people to think for themselves, rather than have ideas imposed upon them. The power of theatre as a transformative tool for positive change socially and politically is boundless. I want to use theatre to start a discussion about the current state of affairs, personally and globally.

What appealed to you about entering RED? Why is it the time for a new award for female playwrights?

RED is propelling a movement which advocates the urgency for more female voices in the industry right now, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. When I came across this new award for female playwrights, and read the description, I immediately felt an affinity with the team at RED and the ethos behind the award. Dissonance is an expression of my love, anger and passion for humanity and this award unites conscious and persistent theatre-makers who are driving towards something I believe in.

Do you think there is gender equality in the performing arts? If not then why?

Not yet, though the shift has slowly begun. It comes from an archaic mind set, and the repression of the female aspect of the psyche for millennia. It’s good to see both men and women have begun to question that repression, but still we often see a warped, mocked, and ubiquitous sexualisation of female characters. All my life I have been told that I will be stuck playing the one archetypical female role, that there are more roles for men in the business, and I have set out break that mentality. I am lucky to be on one of the few acting courses in the world that has a class predominantly made up of women, but that is because my head of course recognizes the industry’s demand for female artists. Every day I meet more female actors, writers, directors, and producers who refuse to be boxed in by the out-dated ideas and delusions of women’s roles in the industry and society in general.

What advice would you give to others wanting to get into playwrighting?

Break the rules. Don’t let other people tell you what to write about. If you want to write about “what you know” then go for it. If you want to write about what scares you, turns you on, makes you angry, what you will never experience, write it for you. Always write what’s in your heart. I’ve found it completely embarrassing to have people reading anything I’ve done, as it’s like your soul bared on a page. Some people will get it, others won’t. Never apologize for your ideas.

Who do you find inspirational?

Florence Farr, an actor, writer, director, musician & women’s rights activist in London in the late 1800’s. She was fearless in her ideas and beliefs, and supported other female and male artists of her time in producing their own work.

What will you be doing on International Women's Day?

I shall be working with other fantastic women on an R&D project I am directing which focuses on the sexualisation and socialisation of young women today. Calling my mum!

What are you working on at the moment & what's next?

The R&D project I just mentioned, which will be on at Launch Festival 18th-21st May at East 15 Acting School. Of course, I shall continue to develop Dissonance.

Bonus Q - What question do you wish I'd asked?

Is there an element within theatre you feel is important?

I love seeing something that makes me laugh. I think fun/laughter is a great teacher, it both lifts and grounds me at the same time, reinforcing what is important in life, particularly for quite a serious person like myself. It’s great to be reminded of the contagious quality of laughter and the positive influence a little bit of joy in life has on everybody.

(c) Isabella Javor / Female Arts 2016

Twitter: @isabellajavor

See Isabella Javor's play 'Dissonance' in a rehearsed reading directed by James Haddrell at the Greenwich Theatre, Sunday 6th March 2016 as part of the inaugural RED Women's Theatre Awards

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