Quick Questions with The Clinic Creative Team

Get to know Dipo Baruwa-Etti and Monique Touko, the Writer and Director of The Clinic.

We asked them five quick questions about their influences and what excites them about working on this fiercely political and lyrical new play.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THEATRE?
Dipo:
No performance or audience being identical, the creative ways metaphors can be brought to life, how we suspend our disbelief and traverse to other worlds as a collective.

Monique: Ceremony, people coming together in a dark room to experience something really magical. So many people having to all be in sync at once to make the stage come alive is something I’m really excited by. The idea of audience and of play is something I love about theatre, and that now it’s becoming something that is not necessarily an elitist thing that only a few people occupy, it’s a space that people – regardless of who you are – can now be involved in, and that’s something that I find really exciting.

IF YOU COULD PICK THREE TOP INFLUENCES IN YOUR WORK, WHO WOULD THEY BE?
Dipo: Suzan-Lori Parks, debbie tucker green, August Wilson. Parks experiments with language and isn't afraid to take her characters down unconventional paths. green masters rhythm and poetry with incredible precision, every word or breath feels purposeful. Wilson explores the existential questions a range of Black people find themselves asking in a way that feels accessible and thought-provoking.

Monique: Yaël Farber, because hers was the first piece of theatre where I was literally blown away. It had a distinct style and energy which made me feel like, if I was to direct I’d love to have a ‘thing’ or aesthetic, so people would know it was me who helped create this world.

Sacha Wares, who directed Sucker Punch, completely blew me away. She’s luckily been my mentor and taught me at the Young Vic. Seeing someone who is unapologetically not trying to do the next Othello or Hamlet but is really interested in new work, is something I take my hat off to. I’m the same in really wanting to forge a relationship with writers and wanting it to be a collaboration.

Thirdly, Ian Rickson because I was blessed to be in his room and learn his process, understanding what it takes to put on a large-scale West End production. I think that if I wasn’t in his room I wouldn’t be the same director I am now.

Monique Dipo 1000 x 600Director Monique Touko and Writer Dipo Baruwa-Etti.

BEST PLAY, FILM OR TV YOU'VE SEEN RECENTLY?
Dipo: Abbott Elementary. It's very different from what I write tonally, but in it are things that I strive to have in my own work: a message and clear idea of why the story is relevant today without sacrificing entertainment, a lot of heart, and characters who are all trying to do their best - even when they go about it the wrong way and disagree with one another. This show has that in spades.

Monique: One would be “Daddy” at the Almeida. The set choices, the choice of actors, the actual story, it feeling like a play that’s definitely for now. Watching it knowing I was going to have a show in that very same space really changed the experience for me. It showed me the possibilities of what could happen on that stage, which felt boundless.

Recently I saw SAMSKARA at The Yard, Lanre Malaolu’s piece which was extremely moving. It was so lovely to see actors give it their all, and a narrative that I was familiar with. I also learnt so much, and the movement made me so happy that we got him for movement on The Clinic.

Everything Everywhere All At Once, is an example of a film that I have never seen anything quite like. It was tonally so wacky, full of loads of special effects and comical moments, but at the heart of it was a true story about a mum trying to connect to her daughter, and a mum just trying to survive. It showed where cinema could go, and how far you can push things, yet still move people.

WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT WORKING WITH EACH OTHER?
Dipo: Monique is incredibly collaborative, attentive, and always open to a challenge - which is great as The Clinic has so many layers and textures, and raises more questions than it dares to answer.

Monique: When I was reading the piece I was very aware of how unique Dipo's voice is and the fact he’s trying to say a lot of things and is also trying to profile not only Black actors and Black talent, but also shedding light on the nuances of Black people and what we go through on a day-to-day basis. Also, trying to portray a world that is both very real and very abstract, and the idea that things aren’t as they seem is really exciting. It feels cinematic at points, which is something I’m interested in leaning into to create interesting visual imagery that the audience will leave with and have to come to their own conclusions on what certain things mean.

His writing is very lyrical, there’s no real stereotypes. It just feels real, like I’ve been given a gift if I’m honest. Separate to the writing he’s just a really nice guy, we get on really well, and I’ve always been interested in ensuring it feels like a collaborative process with the writer. I’m so happy to be going on this journey with him, particularly on a stage like this.

HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP THE CLINIC IN ONE SENTENCE?
Dipo: A family drama that plays with genre elements, to tell the story of a middle-class family who think they have it all (power, wealth, Britishness) and get that called into question when a woman enters their life and bursts their bubble.

Monique: The Clinic is a story about a woman who enters a family and causes a wildfire – the question is whether the fire is destructive, or actually allows for renewal and rebirth.

Opening in September tickets for The Clinic are available from £10, find out more here>

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