Photography by Samuel Xavier with permission for Varsity

Elan Butler graduated East 15 drama school in 2021 and has had acting roles on shows such as Sex Education and Casualty. This week I caught up with him to get some insight in to his new play playing at the Pleasance London.

SS: So where did the idea come from?

EB: It came from watching Love Island. And I remember thinking about the shallowness of it and how everything now is about shamelessly going for stuff to try and be what you think you want to be. And I think people who strive to be satisfied by fame or money or anything like that, when you reach that goal, where do you look to from there? They say it in the play: when you’re constantly striving to be a success, at what point do you finally settle? And Klaus in the play, he never feels satisfied with where he is. And I wanted to explore the idea of never being satisfied. Like sportsmen, how healthy is it to want to be the best? It’s good for goals and ambition but is it good for you, always trying to go for more titles, always trying to be the best? It feels like an endless cycle. I think it takes a really strong person to be satisfied.

“I wanted to explore the idea of never being satisfied”

SS: And you mentioned before you began writing in drama school?

EB: Yes, they do sort of modules on it, but they’re only a little bit a week. You produce an original play and then that’s really your start to writing. It’s very learning on the job. I’d say this play has had three stages in its development so far. I don’t know if there’s a fourth stage but I’m always trying to get it better and better and better.

SS: Cancel culture is something that was discussed in the play, was it influenced by your views on that?

EB: Yes, it was. Cancel culture—I feel like there’s such a fine line now. And Klaus says it in the beginning: “You can’t be influenced by it if you don’t care about it”. And I truly think if you don’t care then you get away with things. I like the idea that Klaus feels that, except does he actually have the mentality to persevere with going through it? I don’t think he does, but he’s trying to convince himself he can. And so I wanted the theme of cancel culture to play throughout the piece.

SS: Did you intend to play Klaus as a person that’s hard to like?

EB: I wanted to push it. I wanted to ask how bad can someone be, or how bad can someone be forced to be, by their industry, and still have people around them that want to help them? I think he’s always trying to come up with an excuse as to why he’s not made it.

SS: As a writer and director, what do you think is the boldest choice you made?

EB: As a writer, it was being honest about how people speak behind closed doors. I really didn’t want to hold back, about the reality of lad culture, and its impact on queer culture. Because I feel like a lot of people in the arts are in this bubble, how are people not changing how they see stuff? Because they’re expecting a lot of people outside their world to see it as they do, or be as conscious as they are. But I go back home, and I see guys all the time, speaking in ways that I know people in other social groups would be appalled at. I don’t want to hold back as a writer, how they speak about things behind closed doors. Because that’s what we’re looking in on.

SS: What do you want people to take away from your play?


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EB: Ultimately, it’s about lad culture and the struggles surrounding that through a queer lens. About identity and merging that with the media. Until recently have my group of friends really felt like we could talk about things, and that was only because of an incident. It really influenced the way that we all saw each other. And one of the main things I want through this play is for people like the group I’ve grown up with to be able to come watch the play and see that I feel like I can take that away and bring that into my own life and friendship group.

A Little Rain in Monaco is playing at the Pleasance London on the 14th May at 7:30pm