THEATRE: Emma Packer Playwright and Actor

Written by: Sophie Taylor

As some wise Twitter user typed recently, ‘can we just press control alt delete on 2016 please?’ and I couldn’t agree more. It’s been a particularly shocking year for news stories and scaremongering, not least with the potential floppy haired President and Prime Minister-to-be’s. Terrifying.

Comedian, actor and playwright, Emma Packer wanted to challenge these political social inequalities through her character, Amy Jones, an emotionally charged girl from Brixton with a strong political heart.

Having won Best Female Act at the Camden SOLO Festival in 2013 and 2014 Emma’s back in London with her Fringe one woman production CTRL+ALT+DELETE, now showing at Camden People’s Theatre until August 16th.

We spoke to Emma about the play and getting your point across in today’s ever more uncertain and ridiculous political climate.

What first compelled you to begin writing CTRL+ALT+DELETE?

“I wanted to explore and draw parallels between the control and abuse of power within a domestic setting, and in wider society from the government, media and the police.

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CTRL+ALT+DELETE examines the myth that all mothers are loving and protective of their children, which serves to isolate us from the truth and the harsh realities of life. The show addresses the subject of female violence. I feel society has a skewed perception of this subject. Whether it is female on female or female on male violence, this kind of violence is rarely addressed although we know it goes on. I have known quite a few people that have suffered mental and/or physical abuse at the hands of a wife, girlfriend or a mother. I hope that CTRL+ALT+DELETE can help raise awareness around a very important subject matter.”

Would you call yourself a theatrical activist?

“I’ve never thought it about like that but I guess I do always like to make a point, whether it’s a social and/or political one in the majority of my writing.”

How did you first meet (director) Katherine Hayes?

“When I originally wrote CTRL+ALT+DELETE in 2014 I advertised for a director and Katherine Hayes was the one I wanted to work with the most.  It was one of the best decisions I made and I have no doubt we will be working together in the years to come. Katherine is a writer as well and we will be working on a sitcom next for TV and devising a new show for my comedy characters.”

Do you think it’s fitting to show the play in Camden?

“I love Camden; it’s so vibrant and culturally there is so much to do. The Camden Fringe is the icing on the cake each year.”

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How has it changed since its beginnings at the Edinburgh Fringe?

“The Edinburgh festival is such a great platform for new material. You learn very quickly what needs to go and what needs further exploration. I was also very inspired by other writers when I was up there and hopefully this steep learning curve has resulted in a piece that has matured and developed in the right way. 

We didn’t really get to ‘meet’ Mum in the previous show. I have therefore developed her so we can see who she is as person and understand her a bit more. Amy has grown as a character as well. She has matured with the piece but hopefully not lost her playfulness and lust for life. 

The political side of the piece has become more relevant to today and addresses issues such as the housing crisis, Brexit and the Chilcot Report.”

Congratulations for your Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award nomination! That must have felt good. How does it compare with winning awards for your comedy works?

“It did indeed. I was very happy but any reward is fantastic because it shows that you’re doing something right!”

So since doing the show in Camden, do you have any recommendations for our readers coming to see your play as pre and post theatre drinks/food?

“My two favourite places to eat in Camden are La Patagonia, a great Argentinian restaurant, and Band of Burgers.”

I’m looking forward to seeing the play this week. Is there anything I should look out for? Do you have a favourite moment for instance?

“I love politics and I love Amy’s passion for it, so I particularly like doing her speech.  As I said previously, ‘Mum’ has a voice now and she is so different to any other characters I play.  I really enjoy performing her.  However, I’m not sure it’s so pleasurable for the audience!”

CTRL-ALT-DELETE is now showing at Camden People’s Theatre until August 16th 2016

Book tickets here and look out for our review coming soon…

Photos by David Packer and courtesy of Emma Packer

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