Director Myles O’Gorman tells us about Tiger, a brand new magical realist play by Joe Eyre about grief, coming to Omnibus theatre in Clapham, South London in November
What is Tiger about?
Tiger is a brilliant, moving new play about a woman called Alice whose world changes after the rapid deterioration and death of her father. Into this strange and altered world, a talking Tiger comes to visit. Both a comforting playmate, but also a childlike distraction, Tiger – like the play – is many things. For me, Joe’s written a piece about the fluid plurality of grief, how it grows, evolves and never settles into any one thing. It’s a beautiful piece of work, and I can’t wait for audiences to meet the strength of feeling and character within it.
Why did you want to direct it?
On my first read I was struck by how Joe’s writing takes the kind of magic we usually see in stories like Mary Poppins, Tiger Who Came To Tea, or It’s A Wonderful Life, but puts it into a more modern and adult context. The play does a brilliant job of combining thoroughly observed naturalistic dialogue with these magical touches. I love plays that take this kind of modern day naturalism and implode it with a sense of the surreal, with a strong sense that theatre is the best and only medium in which to tell this story. Otherwise let’s go do something else. Tiger invites us to spend our time together with it in a shared space.
What is your directing style?
I’ve always been a director that values visual and non-literal staging as a way to strip back and illuminate the core of a text. A few years ago I was very fortunate to assist the brilliant Hester Stefan Chillingworth and an incredible queer team on the premiere of Trainers…(A Theatrical Essay) at the Gate Theatre, a piece that sat somewhere between live art and theatre. It totally influenced the way I make theatre – a way that’s collaborative, exploratory and centres its liveness. It’s also where I met my incredible collaborator Hazel Low, and this will be the third show we’ve worked on as a director and designer duo. Our work is often queer, if not in content then always in process, and tends to find a visual language or gesture that illuminates our interpretation of the text, which we can then explore and play further with in rehearsals. For me, it’s all about collaboration, exploration and doing things in a way that only theatre can allow.
What do you hope audiences take away from the show?
In this country I think we find it very hard to talk about grief, and we rarely have conversations about death or dying. Theatre is special because it creates a forum that makes these important discussions possible. By seeing the experiences that Alice and Oli go through in Tiger, I hope that audiences are able to connect with something deeper within them, and can reflect on their own feelings and experiences of grief, loss and the temporality of life in a way that is unburdening and cathartic. Working on the play has been a magical thing, and I hope that audiences will find the same sense of joy in it that I have. It’s given me a deep appreciation for what’s around me.
What’s next for you?
Within my directing practice, I’m co-artistic director of Helikon Theatre Company. We’re currently co-creating (with Hazel Low and Meg Lewis) a new visual performance piece about heartbreak called MEND. I like to think of it as our version of a break-up album, very loosely inspired by a crazy Greek myth about a white rock. I’m also continuing to meet writers and working on future new plays. I love meeting new plays and helping to develop them, especially work that – like Joe’s – toys with form in some way. You can see more about our work here: https://www.helikontheatrecompany.com
Tiger runs at the Omnibus Theatre, London 7 Nov – 2 Dec 2023, for tickets and info see the website: https://www.omnibus-clapham.org/tiger/