"It has been chaotic in the best way possible"Photography by Abby Reeves with permission for Varsity

Theatre Editor Sara Sioufi interviews director Arianna Muñoz, lead actor Temitope Idowu and costume designer Ramisa Hassan about their upcoming show Vanity Fair.

S.S: What can you tell me about the play?

A.M: It has been adapted for the stage by Kate Hamill, an American playwright, from the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. It chronicles the lives of two women who were born into drastically different social statuses, and how they are trying to navigate the social world that they are trying to climb. It has this feminist reimagining of what could stereotypically be viewed as these negative female characters.

S.S: What made you want to go for the role?

T.I: Becky is a really interesting and fun character to play, she’s a bit of a femme fatale. At first glance I think she comes off as a bit mischievous and greedy, but when you take multiple looks at her I think there’s a lot going on under the surface. There’s moments where she’s always playing this game to get ahead in life but it comes from a place of suffering. I’m enjoying playing her.

S.S: What has the process been like?

A.M: It has been chaotic in the best way possible, I think the energy of the cast and crew definitely matches the energy of the play. We always make sure to have discussions during the rehearsal process before we move to block things out. There is quite a bit of multi-rolling, we have one actor who is playing six different roles, so just having this group vibe of knowing we’re all in this together and we’re all supporting one another has been wonderful.

T.I: I feel really lucky to be working with Arianna as a director because I really feel like I have a say in the creative process. It has been so important towards my creative process as an actor to know I can ask questions.

“I want to create a sort of fusion of past and present”

S.S: So what has been your vision when it comes to this?

R.H: I have sort of big and bold in mind when it comes to this show. I want the character’s personalities to show through their costumes, but I didn’t want to stick to historically accurate version of the costumes. I think that doing that is something that is becoming more and more prevalent in TV shows and I think its nice that we can keep the same themes within the costumes but change up things like the colours and the patterns in to things we wouldn’t have normally found at the time. I want to create a sort of fusion of past and present that’s my vision for the show.

S.S: Is there anything you took inspiration from?

R.H: Yes, I think a few Regency Era shows I know everyone has been hyped about Bridgerton. I met the costume designer from Bridgerton last year, and she talked a lot about how she took inspiration from the past but then diverted from that a lot it was some thing that worked for them. One thing I wanted to do that I think Bridgerton didn’t is put a lot of colour and patterns into the men’s costumes. I’m hand-making pretty much all of the dresses, so I’m excited to see that come to life!

“Theatre can challenge you and still be an escape”

S.S: What do you want people to take away from the show?

R.H: I would say just on a broad level that there’s no one way to tell a historical story. To show how the past can turn into the present but there’s ways of getting out of the messy stuff.

T.I: I would say that just for a little black girl to come see another black girl and know that we can belong in history. To see that history is a place for black people: that’s one of the reasons I wanted to get involved in this. I wanted to show that history doesn’t have just one look. And that there is so much to history that we don’t know. And so much out of history that we can bring to light.


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A.M: I think I’m just repeating what are the others have said, but for me an important thing is that we have a majority BIPOC cast and crew. I made that my intention, as growing up, I never got to see that kind of diversity in regency pieces, and those are some things that I love. I also just want people to have a good time: theatre can challenge you and still be an escape.

Vanity Fair is playing at the ADC Theatre Tuesday 24 - Saturday 28 May at 7:45pm