Interview: Michael Black on Faded Ink’s Debut – In the Wake Of

In the Wake Of is a new play and a gritty debut for new company on the scene Faded Ink Productions. Looking at what lengths people will go to when pushed to their limits, this looks to be a gripping production and its due to play the Camden Fringe at The Lion and Unicorn 3rd – 7th August. I caught up with Michael Black to talk all things Faded Ink, In the Wake Of and theatre…
Tell us a little about Faded Ink Productions as a company – who are you, how did it all begin and what’s the story behind the name?

Myself and Simon Morgan started Faded Ink Productions in January, we knew we wanted to create work that was fresh, exciting and bold. I’d had the idea for In the Wake Of prior to setting up Faded Ink, once Simon was on board we decided to produce it and perform the play as our London début. The name was something that I used for a show I wrote/produced a few years ago back in Hull, so we both decided on that.

As a new emerging company, you say your intention is to produce ‘high quality work that reflects our varied working class backgrounds’ – do you intend to pursue narratives centred on working class characters and narratives as the core focus of the company?

Yes that’s right. We have so much material from our own lives, experiences, things we’ve witnessed or heard. Over the years the seeds have been planted, now we want to use those ideas to create work that rings true to us. Hopefully audiences will find what we do refreshing and different.

The goal of Faded Ink is also to ‘perform plays which represent communities and walks of life that are not regularly touched upon in the theatre’ – that’s a commendable vision for new theatre makers to have. What exactly do you feel current productions overlook and what prompted such a strong and inclusive focus for the company?

We have such interesting and spirited communities all across the country, loads of wonderful, surreal, striking people. I’ve known so many yet I don’t really seem to see them in the theatre, as audiences or characters. Not as much as I’d like to anyway, considering the working classes make up the majority. We’re inspired immensely by people like Shane Meadows, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Harold Pinter, Philip Ridley, Jim Cartwright. Directors and Writers who use working class communities as the centre point for some really dramatic and engaging stories.

0AE492F9-A0B5-4215-8F5A-7351542142D9.pngIn brief, what can you tell us about your debut show In the Wake Of?

It’s a dark, gritty story set on a run down council estate in Hull. The action takes place over 60 minutes in a living room, in real time. Full of rough breaks and desperate chances. It’s an intense hour as the secrets and lies these characters have been living with begin to unravel.

This piece is an original work – what prompted you to perform new work as opposed to existing pieces in either adapted or original form?

We’ve got a few original ideas that we would like to work on first and maybe in the future we will adapt existing work.

What was it that drew you towards this particular piece – something which seems to be a particularly gritty introduction to you as theatre makers?

It’s all loosely based around my own experiences growing up in Hull. People I’ve known, stories I’ve heard, situations I’ve been in, situations I’ve avoided etc The gritty and rough side of life is something that interests me because it’s full of complexities.

In the Wake Of asks a lot of questions about human nature – is this an invitation of sorts for audiences to judge the characters or their own judgemental nature?

I want to find the good in the bad, the lightness in the darkness and vice versa. Everyone and everything has redeemable/condemnable qualities, I really want audiences to see the human beings in the characters I write about, which for In the Wake Of came from understanding and relating as opposed to judging.

You say that ‘we hope to bring that sense of togetherness and joint experience to our play’ – how have you crafted this production to actively seek this connection with the audience? Is your strategy to include audiences rooted in characters, subject matter or something else entirely?

We’ve set all the action over 60 minutes in real time. It takes place in a living room so the audience really goes on this journey with the characters from start to finish. We hope audiences see the different shades to these people and maybe even relate on some level.

Does In the Wake Of hold a message or lesson?

Hopefully multiple lessons can be applied and learnt in some way.

If an audience takes just one thing away from seeing In the Wake Of, what would you like that to be?

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

D7CB3044-5E06-477A-B0D7-95A49DB4BA19Now for the Quick Fire Round!

Who or what has inspired you most in theatre?

Writers like Harold Pinter, Philip Ridley, Edward Bond, Anthony Neilson, people really pushing boundaries, offering up unique stories and ideas for audiences.

Favourite theatre genre and why?

In yer face theatre for been really clever, brave and unapologetic. Plus you see a lot more working classes in those kind of plays.

Etiquette debates – worthwhile or futile? Where do you draw the line?

Just be kind and understanding as much as possible. We’re all in this together.

If you could bring change in terms of opportunities in Theatre to London right now, what would it be? What does London need?

More opportunities for those that didn’t take your standard path into the industry. And for the opportunities already in place maybe a net been cast further afield so more people can have a shot. Theirs a lot of hidden gems and talent on the fringes of theatre.

Finally, to close, sell your show to readers in just one sentence.

A dark character driven which pulls no punches.

So there you have it! Remember: In the Wake Of plays the Camden Fringe at The Lion and Unicorn 3rd – 7th August and you can find tickets here.

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