A subversive satire with a hint of surrealism, Model Village is a new comedy from New Perspectives that sees the miniature residents of a model village rebel against plans from a radical urban artist to update their charming 1930s landscape. We spoke to writer Anita Sullivan
Tell us what the show is about
The Model Village was built in 1936 to encapsulate a safe, beautiful version of England. But it’s not as popular as it used to be. The village commissions a contemporary artist to reach a new audience, and the little people of the village rebel. Of course they do.
Where did the idea come from?
My husband’s first job when he graduated in furniture design was at Bekonscot Model village. He built an Oast House. Visiting it was one of our first dates, and I fell in love with the little world. But our country is so fractured now. Fault lines run through families and communication across divides is hard. I want to create a play that explores some of those tricky edges in a positive, contained way and a model village seemed the perfect setting. Lots of other ideas snowballed from that. Bekonscot has been hugely supportive and I’m honoured this is the 50th Anniversary show for New Perspectives. The play was a joy to write, turned out funnier than I imagined, and has songs.
How is it staged between two sizes of people, the model villagers and the model makers?
It’s a ridiculous thing to attempt! But Angharad took on the challenge. Gemma has found a great solution for the set that plays with perspective, backed up with really smart sound and light design. But the movement between one world and another will be created by performance too, in the morphing speech and physicality of the characters.
The audience will vote to decide how the show ends, how does that work? Is there an ending you prefer?
Each ending balances positives and negatives. Both have cake and bunting, although some characters do better in one version than the other. But ultimately how you feel about the ending depends on your perceptions and beliefs. You may see a positive manifesto, while the person sat next to you sees a wicked satire, or maybe just a happy street-party. It’s a conversation-starter. What was the other ending like? You’ll never know. Which one do I prefer? The middle one.
What do you want the audience to leave feeling or thinking about?
I want people to notice when they’re stuck in a script, using other people’s words. To imagine what would happen if they had a different kind of conversation, and what possibilities that might open up. I encourage everyone to challenge the wolves and rotate their inner fox. (If you want to know what that means, see the show.) But ultimately, I want people to leave uplifted by a fun evening out and have a good chat on the way home.
Sum up the show in three words
Model Village Rebels
Model Village tours from 18 October – 25 November as part of New Perspectives’ 50th anniversary season. Full tour dates can be found here https://www.newperspectives.co.uk/?idno=1168&s=99