My names Mari Izzard and I am playing the role of Eric (one half of the twins Sam and Eric alongside my identical twin sister, Lowri) in Theatr Clwyd and Sherman Theatre’s co-production, Lord of the Flies, directed by Emma Jordan.
The production is a female-led version. And leading at the helm is Emma, an incredible Irish director (winner of Best Director at the Irish Theatre Awards this year for her production of Red at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast). All characters, bar the Naval Officer (Matthew Bulgo), are played by females.
Our version is set in modern day – a world that is in turmoil, dictators are in the midst of a nuclear war and British children are being sent away for their own safety.
Lola Adaja makes her professional debut in the role of Ralph, fresh out of Mountview opposite BBC1’s Call the Midwife regular Kate Lamb, who plays the role of Jack– worth noting that Kate not only brings the best behaved dog (Scout) to rehearsals with her but also the skill of parkour to the role, which she has been teaching us throughout the process of rehearsals so that we can climb James Perkins’ set with ease.
Parkour, married with the movement by Liz Ranken (founding member of DV8) and fight direction by Bethan Clark, has been key to finding the physical language of the island in which these characters live. Physicality has been such a massive part of the process that our warm up’s have often felt more like body conditioning…
A few people have asked me how the company are getting along; perhaps it’s the violence in the play that prompts this question… But something was said in the first week of rehearsals that resonates true, particularly as we head into tech week: “The darker the play, the kinder we have to be to each other”. This company truly has embodied that. The energy and positivity in the room is infectious and you can’t help but find the joy and laughter.
Lowri Izzard (Sam) (left) and Mari Izzard (Eric). Photo: Charley Wiles
We’ve all read the discussions questioning whether a female-led version will work, arguing that if girls were stranded on an island that they wouldn’t end up killing each other…But, as Rachel O’Riordan [Artistic Director at the Sherman Theatre] put so incredibly on Day One of rehearsals, that the roles of gender in society have changed FOREVER and personally I think it is very small-minded to think that only boys are capable of violence and destruction. I believe ALL humans are capable of good and evil, and that those qualities are not gender specific and that the characters on this island are led to make decisions through liberation, freedom, desperation and fear.
How did I get to Lord of the Flies?
I started acting whilst at school, entering in anything and everything annually at the Eisteddfod and being a member of Bridgend Youth Theatre. I trained at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and graduated in 2014. Since graduating I’ve worked for National Theatre Wales, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Regents Park Open Air Theatre.
I know Mold very well. My second job out of drama school was at Theatr Clwyd on Skyhawk (dir.Tim Baker). I was also recently selected as one of Theatr Clwyd and Paines Plough’s Writers In Residence, so in May I spent a lot of time here.
My audition for Lord of The Flieswas actually the day before the debut of my first short play, so needless to say I had a very large G&T when it was all over!
The best thing about this job is getting to work with my twin. We haven’t acted together since an EYA (End of Year Assessment) I wrote for my first year of RWCMD. Although we’ve had a lot of people tell us that we should do Twelfth Nightor Comedy of Errors together – and we’d LOVE to – so it’s just getting someone to cast us? Easy right? Apparently not.
When it was released that Theatr Clwyd and Sherman Theatre were doing Lord of the Flies– I jumped on the phone to my agent and we screamed about how exciting the possibility of Lowri and I finally being on stage together, in BOTH the main producing houses in Wales!
So to be in Wales, acting with my sister is literally a dream come true. What is really interesting for me is that her process as an actor is completely different to mine. My sister trained at RADA, so as you can imagine, she is incredibly intellectual, a problem solver, brain led perhaps. Which makes the RWCMD training of encouraging freedom, empathy and the “just feel it babe” vibe, in my opinion, a heart-led one. Which is an incredibly useful dynamic and a good place to start with Samand Eric.
Finally, the twins are playing twins!
Lord of the Flies is at Theatr Clwyd Thu 20 Oct – Sat 13 Oct and Sherman Theatre Wed 17 Oct – Sat 3 Nov.
About Arts Scene in Wales: