On the 29th of August I headed down to London to hear Katherine Parkinson talk about her latest play at the Dorfman theatre in the National. I was unfortunate enough to not get to see the play but having read the play and still getting to see the set during the talk I wasn’t downhearted.
Home, Im Darling was written by Laura Wade specifically for Katherine Parkinson. Here is a snippet from The Guardians review of Home, Im Darling.
Judy and Johnny live in a 1950s dream home. She is dressed like a prom queen with a frilly apron to protect her frock, preparing his breakfast and making his packed lunch. Their house is a riot of terrible colour: pink bathroom suite with flamingos on the shower curtain, butter-yellow kitchen, turquoise living room with Swiss cheese plant and a pineapple ice bucket on the drinks cabinet. She waves him off with a perfect smile and sits down at the kitchen table. Only when she opens a drawer and removes her laptop do we realise that this is the 21st century, and Judy’s seeming authenticity (she grows vegetables and makes marmalade) is profoundly artificial.
For the NT TALKS with Katherine Parkinson event I attended Katherine was interviewed by Rachel Cooke, who is a columnist in the Observer and is the television critic of the New Statesman. It was fascinating to hear such a revered actress talk about the process of creating the theatre piece and how she developed her character. The play focuses entirely around Katherine’s character of Judy, who lives in a 50’s fantasy, and the impact of post war influences and the cross over of nostalgia and fantasy confused inside of Judy. The play is optionally reverting the women of the war who had to come back to the housework, Judy has done this as a feministic choice. Judy has no children as one of the points she is having to constantly argue is that being a home maker is a job. If Judy where to have children she would be a stay at home mum and everyone agrees that is a job so you would reduce the satire. Everything that Katherine spoke about was so interesting as she raised a perspective on the play I have never considered including pointing out metaphors and analogies hidden within the texts.
One of the things I was very surprised by was that this entire play was inspired but a documentary all about people that really do live in the 50’s which has made me think of the whole thing in an entirely different way. The struggles that Judy and Johnny face are so real that it seems like that must be true for these people in some way as well. It isn’t feasible to live in the past and change your lifestyle in such a way which comes out beautifully in the play.
Katherine also spoke a lot about her journey through Cambridge University to Drama School, LAMDA, and the few years of being a struggling actress that followed. She highlighted and addressed the difficulty of getting into drama school and how it took her two years even after her Cambridge Degree and how close she came to giving up entirely due to financial struggles. She spoke passionately about wanting to reduce the cost of drama schools and eliminate the elitist side of the industry. I really related to a lot of what she went through at the beginning of the career and hope in the future I can relate to her successes.
Rachel Cooke, however, I was less impressed with. She really gave the air of someone who didn’t know what the were talking about and hadn’t properly researched. She started off by getting the name of the play wrong multiple times and asking some rather strange questions to Katherine Parkinson that could be seen as rather rude. What really infuriated me though was the Question and Answer portion of the talk where she was repeating the questions we called out into her microphone for the podcast. However, she was paraphrasing tremendously and completely changing the questions. For example, I asked: Despite Judy making a feministic choice, do you think this play highlights how women will always be oppressed? and she translated that to ‘ Does doing housework make you oppressed?’. This was totally not my question and simplified the question so much. I gave Katherine the opportunity to talk more about the play and certain points in the play and what happened to Judy as opposed to just her age and figure as Rachel seemed fixated on. Later on in the Q&A I raised my hand again and she made a point of saying ‘oh you have already asked a question, give someone else a turn… ill come back to you if we have time.’. It is a question and answer obviously I prepared more than one question and just because I had my hand up doesn’t mean you have to choose me to speak at all. I just felt like she was almost reprimanding me for being engaged and inquisitive and I was embarrassed until I thought why am I embarrassed this women is a loon.
Despite that rambling I did actually have a really good time and Katherine Parkinson is super inspiring.
Beforehand, I also took the opportunity to go to a Jazz Technique Dance Class at Studio 68 which was really challenging and intimidating but I survived and it all turned out great.
❤ ❤ x