“It's a musical, but it's not a traditional musical. We're taking lots of stereotypes of what a queer musical might be, and twisting all of them.”
With Feral Monster’s tour right around the corner and rehearsals in full swing, we’ve been chatting with the creative team to give you an idea of what Feral Monster is, and where this banging musical came from.
We caught up with Cara Evans, the designer, on why they’re excited for the show, what makes it different from other shows, and their experience of designing with sustainability in mind using the Theatre Green Book.
What excites you about Feral Monster?
The amazing team of humans is what excites me. It's a group of interesting queer artists who all have some kind of relation to the subject matter. It's about queer rural Wales, which is something that I haven't seen much of on stage and would love to see more of.
What makes Feral Monster different from other shows?
It looks at queerness in a rural setting. It's also looking at how a young person's brain sees these experiences and the experience of living a small-town life.
It's a musical, but it's not a traditional musical. We're looking at choreography, but not in a traditional way. So, we're taking lots of stereotypes of what a queer musical might be and twisting all of them.
Why should people come and see Feral Monster?
It's gonna be very joyful and playful. There are lots of relatable moments, regardless of your experience.
How has developing the set design been?
I was first involved through a research and development stage, so lots of experimentation. I got to hear the music first too. You don't normally hear the sound world of the piece before you design it, so it was great to hear that as a starting point.
Although Feral Monster isn't based in Bethel, North Wales, it was a big inspiration for writer Bethan [Marlow], as it’s where they grew up. I got to visit the village to see the architecture and the way it was built. The way the houses are slotted into one another affects the way that people behave and influences the way that the characters in this play react and interact with one another.
I’ve also been looking at different visual references to explore ways of showing the inner workings of [the lead character] Jax’s brain.
What’s it like working with the Theatre Green Book?
I’ve worked with it once before on a kid's show at the Unicorn Theatre. It was amazing and, bizarrely, a bit similar to this. It was very playground-based and very colourful. Even though it was meant for really young children, there was a lot of similar playfulness in it.
For the Feral Monster set, we’re aiming for the Theatre Green Book’s Intermediate standard which means that 75% of materials have been used before and 80% of materials will go on to have a future life.
- we’ve bought the swing set from an ex-Olympian on Facebook Marketplace
- we’re using ladders that were last used for NTW’s 2019 show On Bear Ridge
- we’ve borrowed the flooring from Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru
- we’ve hired vinyl from National Dance Company Wales
- and we’ve adapted NTW’s scaffolding to build the climbing frame.
Wherever possible, we’re buying costumes second-hand too (shout out to Hobos in Cardiff for clothes for the promotional photoshoot)!
Finally… Have you worked with any of the creatives before?
[Izzy, the Director, and I] worked together on the Royal Court Theatre’s Living Newspaper a few years ago, which is when we first met. Their brain is interesting and works differently to other directors; it works in zones.
They might disagree with me, but to me, they look at stages a bit like close-up shots. They're quite filmic in the way they think. Izzy really dissects sections of the stage and tries to use the corners. And they don't like using the obvious places to place people, so, the design has to let their brain do that.