Sophie Leydon (She/Her) is a Writer and Director whose practice centres staging LGBTQIA+ experience through interdisciplinary forms. She tells us all about her new play Rapture, coming to Pleasance Theatre, London later this month.
Tell us a bit about Rapture
Rapture is a three-hander following polyamorous partner and girlfriend Kit and Rosy and their best friend Tommy through their joyful, chaotic lives in contemporary East London. The play takes us on a journey across and out of the city, interweaving a foregrounded mode of confessional storytelling with fast-paced narrative action. The work foregrounds consent, queer love and community solidarity – questioning the limits of self-reliance, and centring power and healing as experienced through the shifting lens of queer identity.
Why did you want to write this story now?
Throughout the pandemic the networks of support for LGBTQIA+ young people were torn apart by physical isolation, and queer spaces had to transform themselves in order to survive. Now, in recovery, we are still facing the continued uncertain future of community spaces, from nightlife venues that struggled to keep the doors open to kinky and sex-positive events being hit hard in recent months by local councils’ increasingly discriminatory policies. The play explores the way interpersonal relationships and shifting individual identities are mediated by the places the characters inhabit. As the world opens up and bodies collide once more, we want to interrogate the ways in which the very things that encourage our most radical self-expression can be the same things that cause us harm.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this play?
We hope ‘Rapture’ will be a playful, engaging offering that suggest sanctity of the communality we crave so deeply. To me, the show is a story of the three characters’ resilience and will to survival, proudly foregrounding performativity and centring chosen family. We want the audience to meditate on their own understandings of community – to celebrate it’s potentials to uplift and empower, as well as to consider its limits in providing meaningful care.
Who are you working with to bring this production to life?
We are working with a brilliant team of queer, non-binary, trans and gender non-conforming artists, coming together to shape the show on and off-stage. I have loved collaborating with our Producer Simon Fraser, I was drawn to their experience because they are also a Designer, and working with people with multiple strings to their bow is what Pink Sky’s work is all about. Designing ‘Rapture’ is Verity Johnson, whose previous work has been seen at Camden People’s Theatre, the Vaults and the Other Palace. Instrumental to our collaboration in the room has been our wonderful Movement Director-Intimacy Co-ordinator, Becky Stockley, whose work has built the foundations for the actors to feel safe, supported and comfortable to experiment in the physicality of their performances.
How has the show evolved since you began?
Pink Sky operates as a collective of independent artists who come together to collaboratively make the work, so from our first Research and Development period back in September through to how the piece is taking shape now, we’ve journeyed through some formal experimentation and different modes of blending disciplines that’s been really exciting. The story at the core of the show has been the constant, guiding our understandings of these three characters and their place in the world we’re conjuring.
What’s next for you?
As a first time writer, ‘Rapture’ has been a labour of love – I hope we are able to consolidate a future life for the show, perhaps outside of London – it’s important to me to take the work outside of the immediate circumstances in which it was produced. For Pink Sky, my intention when establishing the company was to facilitate an outreach and community strand that aims to foster connection among LGBTQIA+ artists making work across a vast span of disciplines. We hope to grow roots beyond mainstream theatre spaces within London’s drag, cabaret, performance art and burlesque scenes – bringing together artists who have their own individual artistic practice in one or more performance forms that may not otherwise have the opportunity to meet and share skills and experience. With this in mind, we will be continuing to host Variety evenings and Workshops all around diverse venues in London, we hope to see you there!
Rapture plays Pleasance Theatre London 28th June – 17th July 2022, you can book tickets here: www.pleasance.co.uk/event/rapture#overview