Mayflies is a new musical by Gus Gowland – a contemporary love story that tells the story of a romantic relationship from its first flourish to its final goodbye. Three actors – Nuno Queimado, Rumi Sutton & Emma Thornett – alternate the roles of May and Fly, with each pairing providing a different perspective on the relationships within this contemporary love story. Here, Nino and Emma chat about how they got into theatre, their experiences as rotating cast members, and their affection for this new musical…
Who do you play in Mayflies and explain how they fit into this contemporary love story?
Nuno: I play May, and I think May could really be explained in different ways. We may see May as being the most resolute and healthily looking for something special, or we can see May as the most scarred, possibly someone who’s done a LOT more online dating than they let on. But the fear of something going wrong and backing up ahead of time will hit true on many people.
Emma: I play Fly. They are one half of a couple whom we visit at various stages of a relationship. I am still very much in the early stages of figuring out who Fly is. We haven’t started rehearsals yet and I am excited to have those discussions with the team. I don’t want to make too many decisions without the imput of others, as I feel it should be a real collaboration and an agreement of the story we want to tell.
What’s the attraction of Mayflies for you?
Nuno: The fact that the script is the same (and so cleverly written), will make certain poignant scenes land very differently when it’s a man telling a woman “what do you mean you don’t want any kids?” and when it’s a more mature woman telling a younger woman, for example. That’s just ONE of the many things that leave us thinking profusely about, days after being exposed to such ideas.
Emma: I am passionate about new work, in particular about new original stories with original music. I am excited about the casting concept too: having a rotation cast – 3 actors playing 2 characters is quite unique and I’m very interested to see what that brings.
Gus (Gowland, composer, lyricist and writer of Mayflies) has written the characters to allow the actors to bring something of themselves to their characters, how do you feel about that?
Nuno: Grateful!! May all my future jobs as an actor have the same, although I doubt it.
Emma: I hope it will be a positive thing! I suspect it will be quite freeing but also could be exposing. I am going to work on being as open as possible. I want the piece to be served in the best way possible.
Mayflies is about contemporary relationships – anything you’d care to share about your own search for love and dating apps?
Nuno: It seems to have created the possibility of being surrounded by faces, and yet feeling more alone than ever. But it can also make us spoiled in just how much we can expect from love. It’s the opposite to settling, with everything wonderful and tragic that this entails.
Emma: I have never used a dating app! It will be an education for me. I haven’t been single since pre social media so the closest I would have come to a dating app would be wearing a traffic light sticker to a nightclub in Somerset in the 90s.
Mayflies has a rotating cast with three actors performing in three different pairings – how do you feel about that?
Nuno: Can’t wait.
Emma: See above!
How and why did you start in performing?
Nuno: I started relatively late, coming out of studying Psychology in Uni for 5 years. But I guess the intrigue was the same: human nature in its beautiful ugly complexities. I moved countries and gave up one (two actually, by now) careers to do it, and I would do it all over again.
Emma: I knew it was my passion in primary school and by the time I left school I realised I wouldn’t want to try to do anything else. My mum was the secretary at my primary school and used to bring home school play scripts to use as scrap paper if she had printed too many or for whatever reason. Giving them to me I think she’d thought I would draw on the back but instead I would act out each part and perform entire plays on my own in my bedroom. I was hooked.
Musical theatre or acting – which do you prefer? Any favourite musicals?
Nuno: (Musical theatre IS acting, but I think we mean “straight plays”, which is also a phrasing that I question, haha!). Musicals are harder to get right, but they hit harder when right. They are like a more courageous bet on a Russian roulette: less likely to strike gold, but abundance when it happens. The purest art form of emotion conveying, in my opinion.
Emma: Interesting question. I would argue musical theatre IS also acting!! I studied straight acting at drama school and though I loved musicals, I didn’t think that’s the way my career would go. I started out performing Shakespeare in Germany and that was a wonderful first job. Gave me a lot of grounding and I learnt a lot. Then I did stumble into musical theatre and loved it. I got my first role in the West End in Blood Brothers nearly 20 years ago and since then have actually probably had an equal amount of roles in both musical theatre and straight theatre and that’s the way I like it. I worked with the wonderful and very lovely Janie Dee who’s career is a gorgeous mix of all mediums and when my passion for musicals was waining she advised, don’t turn your back on anything – you have such a talent you should use it whatever way you can. I am grateful for that. I took heed.
Nuno – Tell us about the experience of playing the alternate Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton in the West End.
I’m very grateful, I grew more on that job than any other. The character goes through every single thing imaginable in the story, it is an absolute gift of an emotional rollercoaster to go through. Not for the faint hearted, if you take it seriously, but worthwhile tenfold.
Emma – Tell us about being the ‘Puppet Captain’ for theatre productions of Dinosaur World and 101 Dalmatians.
If I am to talk about puppetry, I have to start with War Horse. This show was the beginning of my puppetry journey. I played Joey as a Foal in the West End and on the global cinema screening for NT Live. I had never puppeteered before, I was taught by associates of Handspring puppet company (the creators of War Horse) and it changed my life. Puppeteering, and especially ban raku style 3 person puppets, is such a focussed skill and dedication. It brought a whole new level of performing to me, the like I had never known in my life or career before. I was hooked on the puppeteering bug so much that I stayed in the West End production for over 3 years, soaking up as much I could. On leaving I found a lot of work through this new skill, and graduated to puppet captain (much like a dance captain on a musical) where I would endeavour to imbue the focus, passion and dedication of the craft into fellow cast members and puppeteers.
Mayflies is at York Theatre Royal April 28th – May 13th 2023. You can find more information and tickets here.
Leave a Reply