Olivia is the first English-language play by Bristol-based Spanish-Bolivian director Oswaldo D. Gutiérrez. This comic drama is an adaptation by the director of three different short Spanish-language plays, and tells the story of Olivia, a woman seeking to escape the oppressive confines of life with her severely disabled son. We spoke to the director in this blog about the play and how preparation is going.
Where did the idea for the play come from?
The idea come from the original short play "Carmen y Carmelo" and a previous project where I built a new idea around "Carmen y Carmelo" with the name "Olivia and Oliver". Once I added new elements it was clear that Olivia was now the central character and the play should be named after her.
How was the process of adapting three short stories into one narrative?
It was difficult because I was reading a lot of scripts, and couldn't decide on which ones fit best with the narrative that I already had. But when I read "Nuestra Soledad" and "San Antonio de la Florida", I could see the connection with "Olivia and Oliver", and that the character of Olivia could knit the three stories together. The actors I had in mind also influenced the process of the adaptation. For example, I knew from the beginning that Finola Stokes was the best fit for the role of Olivia.
Who is in the cast?
Finola studied at Flinders University Drama Centre in Adelaide, South Australia. After completing a Master's degree in acting she worked in film production, before moving to the UK and completing her education at the Bristol University Acting Academy. Her stage experience includes plays such as Twelfth night by William Shakespeare and Desert by Tim Maddock, and she recently took the main role in a short film called ''Eviction'' by Oswaldo D Gutiérrez.
Marija Ilijevska is an actress based in Bristol, England. She was born in Veles, Macedonia, and completed her acting education in Sofia, Bulgaria. Marija learned Bulgarian specifically to study under the mentorship of one of their best stage directors, and was successfully accepted in Krikor Azaryan's acting class. As well as acting on stage, in film and on TV, her stage experience includes musical performances, choral singing, conducting, and teaching drama.
Christian discovered his passion for acting at the age of 14, when he first joined a Youth theatre Company in Venezuela. He made a TV appearance on the Venezuelan network Globovision with the rest of the cast of the musical Alice in Wonderland. After graduating from Drama School, Christian starred in numerous theatre productions and tours around Caracas, before moving to Bristol and attending the Bristol Acting Academy.
Tony has been working in theatre for over 20 years, having originally trained as a stage manager. Six years ago, he undertook a method acting course and now works full time as an actor. His favourite role was as Thisby in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
How is pre-production / rehearsal going?
We are currently designing the projections that will form the backdrop and add atmosphere to the production, which involves filming different places to see which one is the most appropriate for our show.
As it is an independent production, everyone also has other commitments, like other acting projects, and 'day jobs' etc., so sometimes it's difficult to arrange rehearsals. But everything is going well, and it is great to see the comic elements come to life as the actors get to grips with the script
What made the Bristol Improv Theatre the place you wanted to stage the play?
Last Year, I collaborated on a musical production that premiered at the Improv Theatre, and something about the space stuck in my mind, so it felt natural to choose the Improv Theatre for this project too.
Olivia is on Wednesday 26th June at 8pm. Tickets are £10 and can be bought HERE.