Cacophony: "The same, but better"

With less than a month to go before Cacophony transfers to The Yard, Annie Hawkins, who plays Abbie, shares her excitement about the show returning.

Even if 2019 has arrived with lots to panic about, there’s one thing for me which is just excitement: the transfer of Cacophony to The Yard in February.

I’m not saying that I’m not nervous - I am, but even as a practised panicker, I know I’m part of an amazing team of people who can make Cacophony #2 something truly unique. Working on the original production last summer really opened up the creative process for all of us and the experience of bringing our work to life on the Almeida stage was magical. I’m so happy that The Yard has given us the chance to come back to it.

Cacophony was the result of a truly collaborative process that, by allowing for nuance and multiple perspectives, hasn’t become didactic. It is inspired by the ideas in Jon Ronson’s book, 'So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed', and getting to meet Jon to discuss his work was an incredibly exciting and enlightening experience. It made us aware of the myriad different routes into the subject of public shaming.

Although this is a difficult topic it’s an important one. In his book, Jon writes that our capacity to feel shame ‘lies in the space between who we are and how we present ourselves to the world’. And this idea is a rich and exciting one to explore in the theatre.

From the outset, Michael Bryher, our director, was very clear that he wanted us to use the emotional power of shame to create a completely original, polyphonic, theatrical experience. There were questions we needed to deal with.  Why does public shaming happen? How does it feel? Who is implicated? What is really going on with social media?

Cacophony in its final form is written by Molly Taylor. She was incredibly generous about sharing her writing process with us – an unbelievably valuable experience when you’re just starting out in theatre. This meant we weren’t just handed a final script and told to learn it. We got to learn and grow as it progressed.  Even though the possibilities sometimes felt overwhelming, I always knew we were in safe hands.

After our last performance in July, I left the stage elated at what we had achieved together. But because our run was so fleeting, I was also left feeling we all had more to give. A lot of thought and love went into Cacophony and so I’m thrilled that it’s getting another life at The Yard, a place with an amazing reputation for staging the most exciting new work.

Next month, we’ll be getting back into rehearsals. It’ll be great to revisit the show with the fresh perspective that comes from a few months away. We’ve all had time to reflect on our performances and I know that for me, it’ll be an opportunity to crystalise some complex ideas about the play, and discover more about my character.

Was it emotionally challenging to work on Cacophony? Yes. Did it allow me to grow as part of an ensemble and as an individual? Yes. Am I delighted to be involved with Cacophony #2? Yes, yes yes.

And I get to work with that fantastic ensemble one more time…

To quote Bop It, let’s ‘do it the same, but better’