Soho Theatre meets... Jen Wakefield #SohoRising17

Thu 2 November 2017

The Soho Theatre Young Company (SYC) is a melting pot of new and growing talent for those aged 11+. With numerous courses encorporating all aspects of comedy, theatre and playwriting it has quickly become one of the top arts education programmes in London and beyond. This autumn Soho Theatre plays host to shows from a bunch of its brightest new voices, including SYC members, in the Upstairs space – a studio originally designed for ‘emerging companies, young people and brave new writing.’

We had a chat with Jen Wakefield ahead of her Soho Rising show here

Nice to meet you! What’s your name?
Nice to meet you too! My name is Jen Wakefield

Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I used to be a Primary School Teacher and my favourite thing to eat is a Masala Dosa!

Tell us about your experience of SYC.
Without sounding like a big cringe-pot, SYC has really been one of the best things that I’ve been involved in since being on this performing pathway. I applied for Edinburgh Lab in March 17’ as I really wanted somewhere to develop my work but also to lay those troublesome Edinburgh thoughts down every week to avoid going insane.

Holly wanted to call me whilst I was on holiday in Morocco to chat about the show premise before the course began, but I was having some phone troubles so I called her from a dusty phone booth in Essaouira. We had a chat about the show and then I got an offer to be part of Edinburgh Lab (all before my last Moroccan Dirham ran out!)

Every session was slightly different but sure enough I was like the keener rocking up week after week lapping up any kind of Edinburgh chat in the ‘safe space’, which was the Soho Downstairs basement area. It meant I didn’t have to bore my friends with details they needn’t know (they may beg to differ) as I had already voiced my concern or listened to someone else’s ‘my preview didn’t go as planned’ story, which put me at ease and made me feel human. The showcase at the end was really fun as there were still quite a few people’s work I had only heard about but hadn’t seen, so it was a treat to watch and a treat to perform at Soho even if it was only for ten minutes!

What’s your show about?
Girl in Da Corner is about my experience as a mixed-race person told through the medium of various characters, sketches and my main protagonist Natasha G-Storm Flex. The show was borne from an article I wrote for called ‘Sorry your label has expired’ about identifying as Anglo-Indian, my experiences growing up with this cultural background and how I had been received in the performance industry but also my take on it. It seemed to garner a larger response than I thought and had lots of engagement and so I figured it may be worth doing a show about.

Why should people come and see it?
People should come and see this show if they have ever felt like they were a bit of a cultural ‘inbetweener’ or that they’ve had to adapt themselves to fit in to their differing communities. There’s particular reference to having mixed Indian heritage, the race hierarchy snobbery and loaded questions so this may resonate with anyone who feels they have been on the receiving end of that. Also anyone who enjoys Grime music may enjoy the show. I tried hard to ensure I wasn’t doing the ‘putting a cap on and playing an urban character’ thing and hopefully it’s clear that I’m a Grime fan through the songs I’ve written and perform in the show. In a nutshell if you want some fun on a Friday night, then ‘Babbyyyyyyy I’m your maaaaaaaan’!

You can catch Jen Wakefield in Girl in da Corner on Nov 3 at 9pm.

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