A Dive into the English Working Class - Interviews with Bouncers and Shakers Cast and Crew

Interview #1: Courtney Bates - Director of Shakers

Q: What drew you to this show initially?

CB: So, originally, this show hadn’t had a director yet and Dan approached me with an idea of separating out the shows into an all-female cast and an all-male cast and having a female director direct Shakers and a male director direct Bouncers. I thought that was a really cool idea, like a battle of the sexes. I said “let me take a look at the script,” and I fell in love with it. It was hilarious, though I didn’t know of it beforehand.

Q: What’s been the best part of putting the show together so far?

CB: This group! *laughs* This cast is hilarious in their own right, so a lot of the dialogue, y’know, some of the dialogue I hadn’t really thought of as being funny, they brought it out and found ways to bring the humor. They do some great transitions from different characters, they play over 20 different characters, so watching their transitions is hilarious.

Q: What’s been difficult?

CB: Initially, I didn’t have a big turnout for auditions, so I had to do a little bit of calling up some people that I thought would be good for the roles. So, that was a bit more work than if I had had plenty of people at auditions. That was a bit of a challenge, but like I said, I think we did a great job in bringing this cast together. They’re working really well together and I believe only two of them have ever worked together before. And, of course, being in Sweeney Todd, being the Executive Director, all the other things I do, it’s been a challenge in finding time. But we’re making it work! We’re getting rehearsal time in, and we’re about to put the set up this weekend, so we’ll have even more to work with.

Q: How have your cast been doing? It’s a very British show, so is there a cultural gap that needed to be bridged or was it an easy adjustment?

CB: Susie Hallatt, who is in the cast, she plays Adele, her husband David is from England. He’s come in and has offered his skills as a dialect coach and to help us understand some of the slang and the words that are used that we may not really understand how they’re being used. He came to our first readthrough and helped us bridge that gap. And then it’s up to the actors, the way they portray the words for the actors. There’s not a lot the audience won’t understand, it’s not Shakespeare, by any means, but there’s some slang in there that the audience might not get, so David has been a big help. We’ve also modernized a good bit of the references, since most of them are from the eighties. Just to bring it up to present day.

Q: Have accents been an issue?

CB: Actually, no! This cast does a great job at British accents, and they’re able to keep it going the whole time. They have some trouble with some words, but like Susie says, it being based in Yorkshire, there’s a specific accent that’s different from what we would normally do, which I think the girls are really trying to do. Also, sometimes you can’t understand a Yorkshire accent AT ALL, so we have to make sure they’re enunciating so the audience can understand what they’re saying.

Q: Shakers is just a bit over 30 years old, it was first published in 1985, so what do you think it has to say today?

CB: Well, this show in particular deals a little bit with misogyny and of course it’s about waitresses, it’s about the food and beverage industry, which is obviously very prevalent here in Charleston. If you’ve ever worked in food and bev, you’ll understand this show, you’ll find a lot that’s funny. But there are also a lot of moments that are relatable to people who are looking to better their lives, people who have done regrettable things, people just struggling to get from day to day, who have big dreams. They all have these dreams. And on the misogyny, you have a lot of characters who are men, who are coming in and hitting on them or seeing them as pieces of ass, so it really puts a light on what waitresses deal with on a daily basis.

Q: This is a companion piece to Bouncers. How do you think the two shows complement each other?

CB: I think it’s nice that, as we’re saying, “Battle of the Sexes,” of course we’re playing into that dynamic, but they play well together because you see it from both perspectives. You see the waitresses and what they’re going through, but with Bouncers, you have very similar scenarios where they’re men trying to do their jobs. You’ve got, y’know, they have different dreams and aspirations as well, so it really shows the working-class in England. There’s tons of parallels between the two.

Q: Have you and Daniel been collaborating much?

CB: One of the things we discussed when I first signed on was we didn't really wanna have a lot of contact in our planning for the shows. We wanted to keep it separate, to take our visions in different directions and then kind of see what happens. We actually just had a production meeting and this was the first time Dan was learning about that I had a bigger set, and his was more minimalistic set. So there are things that are going to be very different about our shows.

Q: Building off an earlier question, do you think Shakers is a product of its time, or is there something to it that’s timeless?

CB: It’s absolutely timeless. This is definitely not a piece that is stuck in ‘85. You could put this piece in ‘95, 2005, 2015, it doesn’t really matter what year you put it in because it’s timeless. Of course, the references they make to pop culture can always be modernized, but you’re looking at an industry that’s prevalent and will continue to be prevalent, and you’ve got these four women who live very different lives, and they’re all trying to work together, but they’re dealing with their own issues at the same time. The way they write the show, there’s a lot of humor, but a lot of heart too. It’s a nice blend of dramedy, and I think those are the best shows, because that’s life, and I think Shakers is a great representation of that.

Q: And, in the spirit of the “Battle of the Sexes” thing we have going for marketing, it seems appropriate to ask: why is your show funnier than Bouncers? In other words, if I can only see one, why should I see Shakers instead of Bouncers?

CB: *laughs* That’s a really good question! Well, if you wanna see Anita get stuck in a pair of jeans and roll around on the floor, then come see my show, ‘cause it’s hilarious! I think it’s funnier because Shakers was written by a man and a woman, while Bouncers was just written by a man, so I think you get both perspectives in Shakers that you don’t get in Bouncers, which I think is hilarious.

Interview #2: Daniel Rich - Director of Bouncers

Q: What drew you to this show initially?

DR: Bouncers was one of the first professional productions I saw over in England, and I admired the simplicity of it. It was a bare stage, and everything the actors did, they had to make it come across; they didn’t have props or costumes, they just had to make it apparent. I admire the ability to structure an entire show based on your performance and what you can do with almost free reign of your imagination.

Q: What’s been the best part of putting this show together so far?

DR: Honestly, working with all the actors. I think they’re all incredibly talented and funny, and I’m excited when they’re onstage together. And I think they will deliver a fantastic show for everyone.

Q: What’s been difficult?

DR: Finding the music, the right sound cues. I kind of, when I went into this I had this sort of image of it feeling like a nightclub with just constant motion, constantly moving forward, and the sense of sound really kind of took over my mind. This whole script has that feel, and I wanted to try and find songs that encapsulate that premier England nightclub feel.

Q: How have your cast been doing? This is a very British show, so is there a cultural gap that needed to be bridged, or was it an easy adjustment?

DR: I think there’s a bit of a cultural gap. The script relies a lot on slang and British terminology that I wouldn’t expect people to be familiar with. Hell, sometimes I’m not familiar with it, and I’ve been in England for five years. So, I very much admire the effort it took for everyone to cross that gap.

Q: Have accents been an issue?

DR: No.

Q: The original version of Bouncers is a bit over 40 years old, but as they say at the top of the show, this is the Bouncers Remix, which was written and published in the 90s. What do you think the show has to say today?

DR: I think the sort of message hasn’t really changed. It’s sort of meant for an English audience, so I wanted to bring those ideas over the Atlantic. The ideas, there’s sort of a dark underside to them where you find people who become entrenched in their lives and who they are and refuse to change, and there’s an issue in England where it’s a crabs-in-a-bucket mentality, where to go out and be successful on your own on a different path than the one everyone else has already laid out for you is a very controversial move over there. It’s very much this idea of “know your place: this is where you’re born, this is where you go, this is your life until you die.” I feel like it accounts for things like toxic masculinity, because you have these guys, these bouncers, who are these big bravado characters, but in the end, you sort of see how weak they are, how their own inability to express and develop their emotions takes away from their quality as a person.

Q: This is a companion piece to Shakers. How do you think the shows complement each other?

DR: It’s very much, uh, they were written by the same person and they have very similar concepts. So, it’s about, if you break them down to their base elements, it’s about four people working blue-collar jobs, whether it’s standing outside a nightclub or working in a cocktail bar, and it’s about their insights and perspectives on life within the scope of what they’ve experience.

Q: Have you and Courtney been collaborating much?

DR: Nope. Legitimately, I made it clear I didn’t want any sort of collaboration between us, because concept-wise, it’d be interesting to see what we each came up with, because the shows are divided down gender lines. It’d be cool to see them break apart and see what each side comes up with.

Q: Building off an earlier question, do you think the show is a product of its time (or times, as it were), or is there a timelessness to it?

DR: There’s a bit of a product of it’s time feel, definitely in the references and some of the humor; there definitely should be another Remix sometime to take on the changing social aspects of our lives. Like you said, this was published in the 90s before LGBT issues and women’s issues really became prominent. I’d also say, to counter that, there’s a timelessness to the message that Bouncers is sort of pushing, in the sense that it’s about being stuck in a place you can’t get out of, and that sort of existential hopelessness that you might feel, trapped in this purgatory or whatever.

Q: And, in the spirit of the “Battle of the Sexes” thing we have going for marketing, it seems appropriate to ask: why is your show funnier than Shakers? In other words, if I can only see one, why should I see Bouncers instead of Shakers?

DR: You should come see Bouncers because it offers a unique voice that hasn’t been heard in this sort of area, it offers insight into a society we aren’t necessarily familiar with, the English society of the 90s, and it sort of allows us a chance to get in touch with characters that we aren’t really familiar with, and it encourages us to empathize with these characters, even if they don’t do empathetic things. We understand. The whole focus is to provide that perspective for people who might not experience it. There’s a little bit of universality to it, where people might not understand what they’re doing, but they might understand the why behind it, because it does deal with some very common issues sort of embedded in our culture. Like the idea of the lower working class, the idea of being stuck somewhere you don’t want to be, dealing with toxic masculinity, dealing with the confines of traditional gender roles and that patriarchal structure. It allows you to laugh and to think at the same time.

Mini-Interview #1: Anita T. Warren - “Carol,” Shakers

Q: So, what drew you to this show?

ATW: In all honesty, Courtney asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, so. *laughs* And after I read the script I was interested, it just seemed like a really fun play to do. I just loved the witty comments between the girls, the unity they had, and I haven’t been in a comedy in a long time, so I thought, “why not?”

Q: What’s been rewarding and what’s been difficult about this role?

ATW: What’s really rewarding is that I found myself having a lot in common with Carol. It’s kinda funny because i work in the food and bev business, and in one of her monologues she talks about how she wants to do more than work in food and bev and be treated like a human, and that’s me in a nutshell! That’s how I identify with her. The challenging thing, she makes a lot of references to people of the current day that the writer was using in the mid-80s, like Desmond Morris, and really other random beverages or even basic British terms like “punters,” or “I’m gonna sit down and have a bev,” I guess that’s been difficult for me and normalizing it for myself.

Q: You play multiple different characters besides Carol in the show, so which of these other characters is your favorite, and why?

ATW: There’s a lot of times where I play mostly men, and they’re just very demeaning, so I like to be obnoxious sometimes when I’m acting, and it’s a lot of fun to go out of my shell. There’s this one guy I play named Trev, and constantly hitting on one of the girl characters and we get to be a little obnoxious and just nudge each other and laugh like guys. I guess he’s my favorite! I remembered Trev and I do like Trev, so there you go.

Q: What do you take away from this show?

ATW: When I walk out of rehearsals, I guess I have more confidence, because I’m exploring a new character I’ve never done before. But also, I’m encouraged because I identify a lot with Carol, and it’s uplifting to be in a show that’s more supporting, just women in general, and also bringing a comedy spin to it. It’s encouraging and it brings me a lot of confidence, and it brings me unity with my fellow actresses. That’s basically what I feel when I walk out of rehearsal, it’s never discouragement at all. Like, “I can’t wait to keep working on this,” or “I can’t wait to keep working on my character or to block this scene,” so I have a sense of urgency to go out of my comfort zone and be someone else.

Q: Why should people come see Shakers?

ATW: Come and see Shakers because you’re going to not stop smiling and you’re going to have a fantastic time just laughing and relaxing. I’m coming to this show because I really want to get a great laugh, and that’s what I’m getting from it.

Mini-Interview #2: Katie Foster - “Mel,” Shakers

Q: So, what drew you to this show?

KF: The opportunity to do a bunch of different hilarious characters. It wasn’t just one role, it was like... hundreds.

Q: What’s been rewarding and what’s been difficult about this role?

KF: Getting laughs has been really rewarding, getting laughs on lines that aren’t expressly jokes, but the way I said them was really cool. And it’s been difficult to keep up the accent. Sometimes it slips away!

Q: You play multiple different characters besides Mel in the show, so which of these other characters is your favorite, and why?

KF: I get to play a Scottish chef that is talking about all of the ways that he wrestles with food, and it’s a hilarious little monologue, and I love it.

Q: What do you take away from this show?

KF: It’s definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone. Because in theory, I can be really wild with my characters, but in practice, it’s nerve wracking to be wild with mannerisms and things like that, so it’s really getting me out of my comfort zone. And I really like that.

Q: Why should people come see Shakers?

KF: I think we’ve all been in a position where we’ve seen someone not be a good customer, and it’s an inside look at what these four women go through every single night, the stuff that waitresses get put through every day. It’s a funny peek at the life behind a waitress, and it’ll get you to examine how you are as a customer.

Mini-Interview #3: Lindsay Cooper - “Nicky,” Shakers

Q: So, what drew you to this show?

LC: Courtney! *laughs* I actually didn’t audition for this show. I didn’t realize there were auditions. Someone that got cast dropped before they started rehearsals and they needed someone to fill in, so I thought it’d be a nice opportunity to do something other than Sweeney.

Q: What’s been rewarding and what’s been difficult about this role?

LC: This probably the first time I’ve had to learn this many lines in a really long time, so that’s hard. But on the rewarding side, it’s hilarious, some of the lines I have are really funny, and interacting with the girls. Getting laughs out of Courtney and Lindsay has been great because it’s like, “Oh. I was funny!” It’s my favorite.

Q: You play multiple different characters besides Nicky in the show, so which of these other characters is your favorite, and why?

LC: I do like playing Elaine at the end of the night, she’s the party girl, she’s okay. Her characters alright for a while, but at the end of the night, she gets drunk and is upset about this boy, and she’s just like crying and having her own conversation and wallowing and everyone else is like “forget her,” and she’s just like “wait for me!” Totally not drawing on personal experiences from that.

Q: What do you take away from this show?

LC: We’ve all been in that place before where we’re stuck, whether it's in a job or a relationship or something we’re not 100% happy with, and especially going through my monologue for Nicky, she wants something more, and it might not be the best choice, but she’s trying. I think we can all relate to that, that wanting to make a change for the better, but not always knowing how.

Q: Why should people come see Shakers?

LC: You get to sit and watch four women talk about boobs! Like, I literally play with my boobs during my monologue, how could you not enjoy that? Who wouldn’t want to see that? I get to have a drink spilled on me, it’s like one hilarious line after the other. And, we get to call everybody farts! Multiple times! We get to say the word fart. Fart and tits, how can it not be a great show with the words fart and tits coming up that many times?

Mini-Interview #4: Susie Hallatt - “Adele,” Shakers

Q: So, what drew you to this show?

SH: Courtney Bates. No, actually, I had looked at auditioning for Shakers and I thought, “these are young girls,” the promotional pictures I saw from other shows, so I was gonna audition for Boeing Boeing. But then Courtney called me and asked “Would you be interested in doing Adele?” I’m was drawn in because it’s English, it’s from Northern England, and my husband is from Yorkshire. And the opportunity to do a Yorkshire accent (which I can’t do, don’t tell anyone!) was too good to pass up.

Q: What’s been rewarding and what’s been difficult about this role?

SH: It’s almost kind of too early to say, but I think the way I see it happening, what I think the rewarding part is is working with an ensemble cast, all of whom are strong individually. That can be difficult if you’ve got a cast where one or two people are strong and the others are playing catch-up. That can be hard. What’s difficult: I think getting it to flow naturally is going to be the hardest thing we do. It is a long dialogue between these four women, and we’re switching in and out of other roles, and making it work so the audience understands what’s happening is probably going to be the most difficult part of this show. And let’s just throw an accent in! Because we can.

Q: You play multiple different characters besides Adele in the show, so which of these other characters is your favorite, and why?

SH: I think Mervin, playing the men, because there’s three city dudes and I’m playing *lowers voice* Mervin, and that’s the most fun, taking the piss out of men in that scene. Drunk men.

Q: What do you take away from this show?

SH: I think I get something I’ve always believed in, that these women, one of the things that’s a running theme is that they’re underappreciated. They’re not looked at as smart, they’re in a dead-end job, they’re “servants.” It’s not as bad in the US as it is in the UK, because there’s a class difference in the UK, but I understand the judgement that’s being made about them because of their job, especially from their boss, who looks at them as tarts. He looks at them like they’re Hooters girls, they’re being objectified. And this play brings out that these women aren’t just one-sided, they aren’t just the person writing your ticket: they have lives outside.

Q: Why should people come see Shakers?

SH: I think they’ll enjoy the camaraderie they’re gonna see, there’s a lot of laughter, and it’s a bit interactive, so we try to bring the audience into the moment. That’s going to be a novelty for some audiences because they aren’t used to stepping beyond the proscenium. And the humor, it’s just a really funny show.

Mini-Interview #5: Adam Weick - “Les,” Bouncers

Q: So, what drew you to this show?

AW: I had just been finishing up another show here in Act of God and that was the first show I’d ever done here, and I kinda fell in love with the space and the people. And I was just looking to get more involved with the community.

Q: What’s been rewarding and what’s been difficult about this role?

AW: What’s been rewarding is finally- it actually coming together, because for the first two weeks it was struggling, but the last few days it’s been coming together and that’s incredible. On the other hand, the accent is kicking my butt.

Q: You play multiple different characters besides Les in the show, so which of these other characters is your favorite, and why?

AW: I think Les is my favorite, because I’ve never had a chance to do the “brooding silent” type, and you kind of get to learn what’s going on inside someone’s head that they don’t necessarily say out loud.

Q: What do you take away from this show?

AW: I think it really delves into the personal lives of people, the kinds of people that everyone rushes past on any given day and it looks more deeply into the circumstances people are in and not just the job they have or the place they work. It goes into what makes these people tick, not just what’s on the surface.

Q: Why should people come see Bouncers?

AW: It’s hilarious, it’s introspective, and we’ve all been working really hard on it, and we’d love to see all of our hard work pay off.

Mini-Interview #6: Christian Mahon - “Ralph,” Bouncers

Q: So, what drew you to this show?

CM: What drew me to the show, um, the hell was I doing prior to this show? I was just getting out of Big Love at 5th Wall, and was looking for the next show to do and I heard Daniel was directing this one, and I thought “absolutely!” I came out to audition and the rest is history.

Q: What’s been rewarding and what’s been difficult about this role?

CM: What’s been rewarding and what’s been difficult are the same thing, it’s very line-heavy. I love being up there for that amount of time and having a lot to do, but at the same time it’s a lot to memorize. Having 25% of a show fall on your shoulders is a lot of carry - knowing what character you are, their voice, when to switch, when to react - but it’s been a rewarding experience and I’ve grown a lot from it.

Q: You play multiple different characters besides Ralph in the show, so which of these other characters is your favorite, and why?

CM: I think the punk, Ashley, is a lot of fun, actually. Just “how do you like them lyrics?!” It’s very energetic and it’s one of the easiest characters because it’s just a lot of screaming.

Q: What do you take away from this show?

CM: ...huh. *laughs* There are a lot of bits in there where it’s on the surface, it’s a huge comedy bit, but throughout the show there are these bits of humanity that kind of poke out. And that’s kind of, my life is centered on this kind of thing, comedy on the surface, but every now and then you get the surprise moment of deepness. There’s one part where Judd goes, “I’m depressed,” and I respond, “We all are.” It doesn’t change anything, having these moments, but it is a major part of the show.

Q: Why should people come see Bouncers?

CM: You should come to see the show because there’s nothing else like it in town right now. A lot of people in this area, not many people get to see British comedy and things like that, so it’s an entirely different thing, a different tone, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a show that’s quite like this, and it might be the last time you get to see a show like this for a good minute.

Mini-Interview #6: John Bryan - “Lucky Eric,” Bouncers

Q: So, what drew you to this show?

JB: Uh, Dan said, “Hey, do you want to do this show?” and I said “This sounds very weird. Sure! Let’s do it.”

Q: What’s been rewarding and what’s been difficult about this role?

JB: Bouncing back and forth between different characters and making sure each has a distinct British dialect, that’s been both rewarding and difficult.

Q: You play multiple different characters besides Eric in the show, so which of these other characters is your favorite, and why?

JB: It’s definitely Maureen. I really don’t know why, she’s just so fun, she’s a very funny character, very typical of her type.

Q: What do you take away from this show?

JB: That I made the right choice to not ever spend a lot of time in discos and pubs. I definitely made the right choice.

Q: Why should people come see Bouncers?

JB: It’s a very fast-paced, very aggressive comedy that I think a lot of people would really enjoy.

Mini-Interview #8: Vincent Lippiello - “Judd,” Bouncers

Q: So, what drew you to this show?

VL: What drew me to the show? The storyline drew me to the show, the challenge of the changing of characters, and the all-around camaraderie of the elements in the show of friendship and struggle and all that fun stuff. And it’s been a long time since I’ve been in theatre, so this will be a perfect start to get back into it.

Q: What’s been rewarding and what’s been difficult about this role?

VL: The difficult part was playing a female role, to be honest. Never had to do it before, so that was a challenge for me. But I think I’m grasping it pretty well. And the reward of this show is knowing that, after not doing theatre for 20+ years and being able to get back into it, it’s like riding a bike. You don’t really forget what you thought you would’ve forgotten as far as acting and theatre is concerned. That’s been rewarding, knowing I can still do it after 20 years.

Q: You play multiple different characters besides Judd in the show, so which of these other characters is your favorite, and why?

VL: I enjoy Judd, actually, out of all my characters. Judd is someone I can relate to as far as it being the obnoxious one, the one to push someone to the edge, the one who tries to get to somebody. That would be my first-best character, definitely. They’re all fun, though! That’s the thing, they’re all fun, but Judd definitely, because he’s more of a serious character, which I don’t normally play.

Q: What do you take away from this show?

VL: The dark side and the sad side of the club life and the nightlife that not everyone really sees, because they’re blinded by the good times. Just gives a good perspective on what feelings are attached to the bar scene and what goes on in people’s heads sometimes. You never know, but it gives you a good idea of what goes on mentally, and the kind of people you can run into.

Q: Why should people come see Bouncers?

VL: Oh, it’s an outstanding ride! It’s a fun ride once you get buckled in, it’s funny, it’s everything you could want in about an hour’s show. It gets your attention, it makes you sit there, and you never know what’s gonna come out of anyone’s mouth at any given time. It is a thrill ride, definitely.

Bouncers plays May 3, 4, 5 @ 8pm

Shakers plays May 10, 11, 12 @ 8pm

Get your tickets HERE

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