Interview with the Director - Eigengrau

Michaela Frances Neal, director of Eigengrau, gave an interview to for her show at Reading Fringe Festival 2013.

What is new and different about Eigengrau?

It was the first play I’d ever picked up which spoke so directly to me as a twenty-something trying to get my life sorted out! Yet what’s universal about the play is the theme of struggling to find out who you are and your direction in life. In Cassie, she finds her identity through her feminism; in Mark, his desire to earn money. Yet look a little beneath the exterior and they’re all frantically treading water, trying not to drown.


It’s an interesting play because it doesn’t provide neat closure and it raises questions that it doesn’t answer – you have to work them out for yourself.


What would one of your rehearsals look and sound like?

Rehearsals are relaxed but within a pre-planned structure. For a new text, the first part is exploring the scenes and the characters’ voices, then later on we’ll put it on its feet. I have a very strict timekeeping policy – I respect how much time and effort the cast put in and I want each rehearsal to be fresh and energising for them.


What's the story behind the show's appearance here? How did it come about?

Once rehearsals started there was a marvellous group synergy and we all wanted to extend the run – especially after selling out. The whole team are from Reading, and even the playwright’s from Reading originally, so we thought Reading Fringe Festival would be the perfect fit.


What's your favourite theatre show ever (excluding your own) and why?

Straight by D. C. Moore, directed by Richard Wilson at Bush Theatre, will always have a place in my heart. It was during the interval that I picked up the playtext for Eigengrau and that’s where the journey to Reading Fringe Festival began. Straight was so fresh and heart-rendering. I just wanted the characters to find their ‘happily ever after’ but as a spectator, I couldn’t figure out what that was, and neither could the characters.


The central theme is similar to Eigengrau – lost souls attempting to connect as they each try to find themselves. The sweetness and tenderness in Straight resonates with me still, and that’s what we want to achieve with Eigengrau and future Colour of Fruit productions - ­no easy answers, but some compelling and thought-provoking questions once you’ve left the theatre.