FUNERAL MEATS – is coming to the Kings Head Theatre – Award-winning company LUXE proudly presents the world premiere of ‘Funeral Meats’ by Cradeaux Alexander and John Bowles had the opportunity to talk with Cradeaux Alexander.
“a drama exploring the legacies of same-sex marriage, fame and inherited mental illness. Brother and sister reunite at their mother’s funeral; while the alcohol flows, a play saturated with recrimination, revelation and revenge overflows.”
JB: The setting of this pay is a classic environment for drama. There are some lofty themes in the play. How would you categorise it?
CA: If I’m smiling I’ll call it a Greek Tragedy; if I’m a bit more sober I’ll call it a drama that can laugh in the dark. A lot is packed in to a relatively short space, and the feeling of density is heightened by the circumstances the characters find themselves in (a funeral wake).
JB: How important is it that gay themes and characters are seen in the arts?
CA: I’m not sure what constitutes a gay theme, but gay characters certainly. The arts are for and about people, and that includes us all. I’m not so interested in distinguishing between sexuality, gender, etc. just for the sake of it; if it’s right for the work in question then there should be no difference who is doing what or who is loving whom. The current director of ‘Angels in America’ is not gay, and Edward Albee wrote Martha and George as a male/female couple; these are interesting examples of good diversity and exchange within art creation and consumption. In ‘Funeral Meats’ the central same-sex relationship is important as being such because I wanted to discuss unequal marriage laws and their effects.
JB: The Kings Head venue is very intimate. A unique space. Is that a deliberate choice of venue?
CA: I’ve been seeing some character-based drama on a large West End scale recently, and while it can work if you’ve got good seats, audiences sitting up high or way in the back can feel a bit frustrated. Luckily our audiences at King’s Head will have no trouble keeping a close eye on us.
JB: Mental illness still seems something of a taboo. Why do you think that is?
CA: Considering that we are all touched by it in some way it another.
Physical illness is usually apparent to the naked eye and its effects on a person can be read and understood easily by others. Mental illness is often obscured from the naked eye, and unlike other illnesses it manipulates personality and character, the strong essence of who we are and how we come across to other people. When behaviour deteriorates or goes in an unknowable direction it debilitates relationships, and can radically change the person affected. I think it is the undue influence on personality and behaviour which keeps it taboo.
JB: You have worked and lived on both sides of The Atlantic. How would you describe the theatre scene in London?
CA: The word seems to be king, and I see a lot of stories being told. I also see clear divisions between directors, actors and writers. My background is a mix of traditional modern drama and experimental theatre production, and my interests in drama, theatre and performance are guided by an equal engagement in the formal production of a work and its narrative. I also like to create the whole work, which includes a fusion of acting, writing and directing.
JB: Where do you personally call home and how has that affected the play?
CA: I am currently a Londoner, and have been here over a decade. I’m originally from Los Angeles, and lived a long time in New York; home for me is an international city. My initial move to London wasn’t my choice. My partner was not a US citizen (British) and we could not be married at the time because the USA did not acknowledge same-sex marriage or partnerships in the way they do now. The UK did have more progressive laws on the books, so my partner and I moved here. My movements have been dictated by outmoded bureaucracy; it sharply affected how I wrote and detailed the relationship in ‘Funeral Meats’ between Luke and Felix, who experience a similar bureaucratic and ultimately homophobic frustration in terms of marriage, free movement, and immigration.
JB: Funerals are a particularly emotionally charged environment. How does this setting serve the action and themes of the play?
CA: It is a cauldron. Characters come together in this environment after long absences and are given license to reflect and agitate. The funeral wake also allows an influential character, the recently deceased, to colour and shape the assembled cast, like a breathing character might, always just off stage… Everyone in the play has different attitudes and histories with the deceased, and here they can engage with those histories and feelings amongst each other in a space of charged drama.
Funeral Meats is at The King’s Head Theatre, Upper Street, London N1 9.30pm from 8th – 13th August (5.30pm on 13th August). For tickets and info visit