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Q&A with Out of the Ashes Director Alex Jackson

Check out this interview with the Director of Michael Morpurgo’s Out of the Ashes, Alex Jackson


Why choose to perform Out of the Ashes?


About 2 years ago, I knew I wanted to direct an adaptation of a Michael Morpurgo novel in the south west. He’s a writer who is so grounded in the South West and at the time, despite living there for the last 21 years, I was feeling really disconnected with our stories. I was talking to family and friends about ideas, and mentioned Out of the Ashes, a novel that as a child had really affected me. It’s such a brilliant way to tell the story of the whole foot and mouth crisis through one family’s experience, better still, through the diary entries of a young girl. I got in touch with the license holders but didn’t hear back for a little while so assumed it wasn’t possible. Then one day I received an email out of the blue, and I confirmed the license. Sometimes you just have to ask (in advance!).

Why is this version different to past performances?


Out of the Ashes
started out as a project which I developed while working at The Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter. They supported the early development of the piece in the 2017 From Devon With Love festival, we then re-mounted a revised production at The Boat Shed on Exeter’s quay in summer 2017 with the same cast and another date at The Beehive in Honiton in September. These performances all gave us the chance to develop and play with the piece in ways that we weren’t able to over the tight deadline for the From Devon With Love festival. I’ll always be grateful to Chelsea and Amelia for everything they put into those original productions.

Having not revisited the piece for 6 months or so, but thought about it often, there were a few problems with the way it was written that I couldn’t quite fathom at the time. So when the opportunity for a rural tour came up, I decided to re-work the script as a one-woman play and now the narrative flows in the right way. Having a single voice deliver the writing feels much more cohesive, and Georgia does a wonderful job as Becky.

So audiences that are coming to see the piece for the first time, will experience a very direct experience hearing Becky’s private diary entries straight from the horses mouth (sorry!). And returning audience members who saw the show last year, will experience a fresh production, but similar in style.

Who will enjoy watching Out of the Ashes?

It
really is one of those shows where there is something for everyone. If you remember the foot and mouth crisis, you’ll find memories flooding back about news reports and the effects across the country. Equally if you’ve only heard about it in passing, the show gives you a really personal story about how it affected families living in rural communities.

Plus there’s lots else to enjoy too – it’s a story about family, friends, love for animals and the farming community. It’s funny and touching, heart wrenching and life-affirming.