Meet the dynamic duo behind female-led theatre company Screw Productions — Bryony Cole and Grace Carroll. Bryony is an Amsterdam-based freelance actress, writer and producer, while Grace is a writer and script reader from London. This month, they’re bringing their production ‘WET’ to Perdu Amsterdam from Wednesday 17th – Sunday 21st October. I caught them up with them over a cup of coffee to get the lowdown on their upcoming show and what life looks like for them right now.
How did you end up working together?
Bryony – Grace and I met whilst we were both working in temporary office jobs in London five years ago. We clicked straight away. I had just moved to London and Grace had lived in London all her life so she could show me all the cool places. We both realised we were crap at office jobs, so I made the decision to take a leap of faith and go freelance as an actor and writer. Grace was already writing so it was just made sense to start working together.
Can you tell us more about your production ‘WET’?
‘WET’ is a play about sex, porn and women and follows the lives of two friends — Holly and Sophie. Holly, frustrated by the porn out there, comes up with an idea to make a feminist porn film for women. It is a comedic story about a generation of women growing up in a world with a heavy emphasis on sexuality.
The production of ‘WET’ in Amsterdam is directed by Cintia Taylor and has a cast of six talented actors based in Amsterdam: Tessa Stephenson, Nastassia Firestone, Amelie Onzon, Hiske Bongaarts, Errol McCabe and Shane Redondo.
How did you come up with the concept for ‘WET’ and how did you research the topic?
Bryony – I came up with the concept of ‘WET’ after having conversations with lots of my female friends about porn. There are lots of discussions about how men engage with porn but not a lot of conversations about how women engage with porn; what they watch and what they like. I proposed to Grace that we write a play about the subject and she thought it was a great idea. Grace and I decided to send out an anonymous survey asking women about their attitudes toward porn. We thought we would get a couple of responses from our friends and family but we ended up with over 150 responses from all around the world, which was surprising but amazing. It showed us that women wanted to talk about these issues, and it really motivated us to keep going. We used a lot of that research when writing the play and the responses inform the opinions of the central characters in ‘WET’.
What does your average day look like?
Bryony – I don’t really have one! As an actor, writer and producer every day is different. If I’ve got my producer hat on, I’m answering emails and reading scripts, looking for shows to produce and working on current projects. If I’m acting, then I’m learning lines, working on my character and rushing off to rehearsals. If I’m writing, my day is full of brainstorming, thinking and reading. And then on good days actual writing. It can get stressful sometimes but I like it that every day is different.
Grace- I used to have a more of a day job where I would go in every day 10 am till 6 pm. I worked for a literary agency which was good since I did a lot of work with scripts, but when you’re doing your own projects on the side it can get a bit much. Especially when we were doing the London production of ‘WET’ — I would get up, go to work and then spend all evenings in rehearsals. It takes its toll. At the moment I’m script reading on a freelance basis so I can work around my own schedule but that is unstable and not well paid. I’ll probably have to get another day job to keep up with London rent prices when I’m back.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Bryony – I love working with a project to its completion. To think a couple of years ago ‘WET’ was just an idea Grace and I had whilst drinking in a pub in London. Now we finally have a script we’re happy with, a successful run in London under our belts and are preparing for our run in Amsterdam at Perdu. It’s been really satisfying to watch it grow and connect with different people. We can’t wait to see how people react to it here.
Grace – I love creating worlds, writing is a way of sharing a little piece of yourself with the world, and exploring ideas and perspectives you might not have otherwise. I love hashing out ideas with Bryony, we’ve had so many good chats whilst doing this production together.
What are the negatives?
Bryony – The lack of routine is a blessing and a curse. Also a lack of stability; you don’t know how long it’s going to be till you get another job.
Grace- Instability is a big one. Also you never really switch off. For a lot of jobs, you can just stop thinking about it as soon as you leave the office but I’m always pretty much always just thinking about things I have to do for ‘WET’ and other projects I’m writing. I have to remind myself to take an occasional evening off and just relax.
What has been the highlight of your creative career?
Bryony – This will be the first time I will have seen ‘WET’ up on stage (I was acting in the London production) so I think this run at Perdu will be a definite highlight for me: seeing my work up onstage.
Grace – Seeing ‘WET’ onstage was a goal of mine so I was so pleased when we got a chance to put it on in London. Having it on overseas will definitely be amazing and not something I could have seen myself achieving if it wasn’t for Bryony.
What are your plans for the future?
Bryony – We want to bring ‘WET’ to more audiences across Europe. We are also working hard on our next production for 2019, which we’re really excited about…!
Grace – Bryony and I love to work in Amsterdam so we definitely want to put on more work here.