'I realised the great power theatre can have to connect people': Meet REP Foundry artist Lorna Nickson Brown
Lorna Nickson Brown on becoming a REP Foundry artist
What made you first want to create theatre?
When I was a teenager, I performed in a play called The Laramie Project. It was a verbatim piece about the murder of Matthew Shepherd, a young gay man from Laramie, Wyoming. The play chronicled conversations with people who lived in the area, and their immediate reaction to his murder, exposing the homophobic views that surrounded the crime. My mum and brother came to see the show and they were deeply moved. I was surprised by how much it had affected them and realised the great power theatre can have in connecting people in the most immediate way it's ability to tell stories of great importance.
More recently, I've decided to create theatre myself because I need to tell stories and to ask what life is about. I think theatre is one of the best spaces to do this. It's through the telling and acting out of stories that we and our ancestors have understood the world, and it remains as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.
What excites you most about being a REP Foundry artist?
I often used to come to The REP as a child and I was a member of the youth theatre - it completely changed my life. I found a self-expression performing in plays and I watched every show that the theatre produced. I am so thrilled to come back to Birmingham to write my own work. I'm looking forward to new collaborations and working with others to develop my writing. The building is full of great memories for me, and I'm looking forward to making new ones.
If you could collaborate with anyone (past or present) who would it be, and why?
It would definitely be New Zealand filmmaker, Jane Campion. She is so insightful about human nature and her work always resonates with me. She understands the female experience and writes unusual, complex female protagonists who are both mysterious and completely recognisable. She explores the worlds of these women and finds a way to articulate their interior life. It's fascinating! I think I would learn so much from her. She dares to explore the most wonderful and difficult things in life and although she often deals with complicated emotions, she does so with great sensitivity and humour!
Who or what in theatre inspires you most?
I'm a huge fan of South African playwright and director, Yael Farber. I first saw her production of Mies Julie when I was training as an actor. Her production was a brave exploration of class, gender and race, and her visual storytelling was fierce and direct. She's able to elicit fearless performances from her actors. I'll never forget her production of Nirbhaya, it allowed room for people to speak freely. More recently, I saw her production of David Harrower's brilliant play, Knives in Hens at the Donmar. Her storytelling hits you right in your core - it's a physical experience.