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INTERVIEW: Director Mark Storor talks to Sheena McKenzie about his latest production at the Roundhouse

 

Mark Storor's latest production The Fat Girl Gets a Haircut and Other Stories premieres at the Roundhouse next Tuesday April 26. This weeks reporter Sheena McKenzie interviewed the director about his influences, teenagehood and working with 11 young artists.

I'm not the first adult to say it and I won't be the last: you couldn't pay me to be a teenager again.

Growing pains, acne, rampant hormones and a general feeling of inadequacy. Teenagehood is tough. And in an adult's world, we're rarely presented with a vision of it straight from the teens themselves.

Until now. Mark Storor's latest production, The Fat Girl Gets a Haircut and Other Stories, brings together the real-life tales of 11 London teenagers, told by the youngsters themselves and accompanied by a live band, film and animation.

Playing at the Roundhouse theatre in Camden from Tuesday April 26 to Saturday May 7, this selection of intimate poems tackle love, family, sexuality and religion all from the unique perspective of  a teenager.

Director Mark Storor told Run Riot this week: “I think being a teenager is a roller coaster. It's an incredibly turbulent time and there's an awful lot going on underneath the surface. And what I think these young artists have done is turn themselves inside out to communicate that.”

When asked if there was a certain attraction for adults looking back nostalgically on teenage life, he replied: “Not everyone looks back or wants to look back on that time. It can feel quite brutal. These young artists are in a unique position to look at their lived life. They're shining a light on things that concern us now.”

The 11 young artists hail from myriad backgrounds across London and over the last 18 months have dedicated their time to working with Mark and each other to tell personal stories about finding their place in the world.

The title itself comes from one such story, as Mark explains: “It came out of someone being very badly bullied and disappearing into a black hole and taking a pair of scissors and cutting their hair off. It's not a particular story, it's about anyone who's ever been bullied, it's about the fat girl inside all of us.”

Mark is well-known for working with untrained performers in site-specific locations, such as his  and collaborator Anna Ledgard's 2009 piece For the Best, which involved children from the Dialysis Unit of the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London. The performance was named the  winner of the 2009 Theatrical Management Association Theatre Award for best show for children and young people.

Mark is now looking forward this year to working with inmates and officers at Wandsworth Prison in upcoming piece A Tender Subject and middle-aged men at St George's Hospital in Tooting in The Barometer of my Heart.

Art is absolutely about what it is to be human,” he said.

It's as simple as someone jumping out from behind a sofa and saying 'look at me' and telling their story. Art is about telling a story and that's best done at the place of the story. People often say they don't have a story, but it's about shining a light on it.

“Art allows us to look at things we might not necessarily look at. Telling people's ordinary stories in a particular context, creating a frame to look at it, we can consider the mundane to be magical.

Photograph by Stephen King