We catch up with theatre Director Elizabeth Benbow and hear all about her work alongside Elisabeth Lewerenz and Antonia Georgieva to create new bisexual play How We Begin.
Where did your director career begin?
Back in 2015, I had the opportunity to be a part of a play going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as an actor. We were director-less, and I found myself taking on the role throughout rehearsals. I had never thought about directing before, but I immediately fell in love with it, and everything it involves. I loved having more creative control of the piece as a whole, and collaborating with everyone involved, watching it all come together. Since then I haven’t looked back.
So tell us all about How We Begin. What made you want to direct this piece and what will excite viewers?
I was lucky enough to meet and begin a collaboration with Elisabeth at the very start of How We Begin, before it was even a full fledged play. We met at their showcase for the VAULT Festival Writers Group, and I immediately fell in love with their writing, and HWB in particular. I wanted to direct it, because I had never read such a true and authentic story about a bisexual relationship. Elisabeth’s writing is glorious and incredibly relatable, never shying away from the joyous, messy, beautiful moments of what a queer female relationship can be. That is why I wanted to direct it, and that is why I think it will excite audience members.
What advice would you give our readers that would like to get into directing?
Surround yourself with people that inspire and excite you creatively. It can take time to figure out your voice as a director, and that is okay. It is also okay not to know all the answers, and to admit that. Directing can feel really lonely at times, and other directors can feel like your competition. It took me a while to learn this is not true, so don’t be afraid to make friends, and support other’s work. There are also some really fantastic support networks out there you can join.
If you could use a magic telephone to call yourself at 15 years old what would you say?
That is tough. I would say never be afraid to be who you are, your voice may be a little loud for some people, but that’s okay, you will find your people. And never diminish your own love and joy for anyone else.
Who are your role models and why?
It’s cheesy, but my mum is my biggest role model. She came up in the business world battling all the misogyny and sexism, much like how the theatre world can feel at times, and forged a brilliant career for herself. She is a powerful, intelligent, caring, big boss lady, and I feel very lucky to have her support. She inspires me, and I can only hope to be like her one day.
Who’s your celebrity crush and why?
Florence Pugh. Every day.
What are your thoughts on queer representation in theatre?
It has definitely gotten better in the last few years, but there is still a long way to go, particularly for female and non-binary representation. Queer representation in theatre is still very dominated by male queer stories, which is fantastic, and these stories definitely deserve a voice, but there is still a lack of female queer voices, specifically bisexual stories that take place on the main stages. Queer female stories are so often shown through the male gaze, or hyper-sexualised, or end in tragedy. Which is not okay. I want to make theatre that is true to the female voice and experience, and that is one of the many reasons I was drawn to Elisabeth’s work and How We Begin. A raw, truthful, joyous representation of queer love between two women. And if our little play at the VAULT Festival connects with just one person, we’ve done our job.
Do you have any other exciting lesbian focused theatre projects coming up?
At the moment How We Begin has my entire heart and focus. We hope of VAULT Festival is just the beginning.
Where and when can people see How We Begin?
You can catch How We Begin at the VAULT Festival, suitably opening on Valentine’s day, and running from the 14th – 19th February 2023.
25% discount off tickets to HOW WE BEGIN for Nonchalant readers.
Use code: BEGIN25
When on the booking page, scroll down to the bottom before selecting a ticket and enter the above code in the promo code box, and voila!
Thanks for chatting to us!
Team Nonchalant x
Last Updated on 15th February 2023 by Nonchalant Magazine