Saturday, November 5, 2016

Spotlight On...Rebecca Crookshank

Name: Rebecca Crookshank

Hometown: South Devon (Plymouth) now London UK

Education: First Class BA Hons from the Italia Conti Academy London UK

Favorite Credits: Coming to New York with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and working with Tim Burton playing the strange kissing woman in "Alice in Wonderland" (Disney, 2010).

Why theater?: It’s live, dangerous and you get to work and meet with your audience which I adore. With a show like Whiskey Tango Foxtrot connecting with the audience is integral to the storytelling.

Tell us about Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is based on a true story - it’s a one woman show and shares my experience of being in the military. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot has provoked urgent discussions and encouraged men and women who have been affected by bullying and sexual harassment in institutions to speak out… In 1997 I joined the Royal Air Force. Four years into my service as an airwoman, working in Aerospace Systems Operations, I was posted to the Falkland Islands for four months, to do my job. For the final month of my detachment I was sent to a remote radar site called ‘Mount Alice’. In anticipation of ‘flying solo’ as the only woman amongst 28 men, I felt afraid and conflicted. As I landed in the helicopter some of the men were lined up on the helipad ‘mooning’ me in. I was asked to join them in the porta cabin bar, sit on a stool while the men danced around and manhandled me wearing nothing but rubber gloves on their genitals. This was all part of my ‘initiation ceremony’. I asked a superior if I could leave the mountain and I was told that life beyond the mountain would be made very difficult for me if I didn’t ‘stick it out’. The harassment got darker and my official complaint trashed in exchange for a good report and a flight on a Tornado F3. Fifteen years later my complaint is now a script, an autobiographical solo show. When I began writing what was to become Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, I never imagined the response my story would provoke. I wanted to create a story about a female experience and I thought I had a fairly interesting one. There is a lack of representation of the female experience in the arts and my story raises universal questions about gender inequality, sexual harassment and bullying in institutions.

What inspired you to write Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?: It’s important to represent a variety of stories on stage. There is a lack of representation of the female experience in the arts and I wanted to write and share a personal story that would challenge this as well as raise urgent questions about gender inequality, sexual harassment and bullying in institutions.  The transition from my life in the military to the arts is also fairly uncommon. I have a lot of experience of working with young people and I think the idea of re-invention and courage to follow your dreams and speak up for what you believe in can hold a powerful message. Creating this show has sparked my feminist and creative awakening and hope audiences can connect with that as well as the adversity.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theatre that divides opinion, breaks conventions and raises questions. Theatre that embraces equality and diversity. I also love music and sequins, bring on the sequins! David Lynch reminding me to follow the art spirit. Lucille Ball, I mean what didn’t she do, she’s a trailblazer.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Sharon Horgan - she’s a UK actress, writer, director and producer. She makes brilliant work and I love following her career, she’s an inspiration. Carol Morely, a British film director and writer is another inspiration, her work is incredibly moving and she’s a champion of women stories.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:  Schuss Book at United Solo, I really hope we can catch it.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:  Lucille Ball, this is impossible but that would be dreamy. Her wardrobe, wow and those pantsuits?! Yes please. I think "Spreading My Wings" could be good title.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: It would have to be something with Judy Garland, to have seen her live at the Palace New York in 1951 would have been incredible. I would have loved to have seen Josephine Baker live too, she was incredible. We are off to eat at Chez Josephine after Whiskey Tango Foxtrot makes its American premiere on Saturday 5th!

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Collecting penguins and inhaling my husband’s home cooked Persian food. I think I could sink a whole bottle of pomegranate molasses in one gulp.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?:  I would love to be a stylist, I’ve always loved dressing up, dressing up my friends and fashion. I think stylists create a look but also inspire confidence and that’s a great gift to share.

What’s up next?: Hopefully more trips to NYC, it’s a mega place for an artist. I’m currently in the early stages of development of a musical based on Whiskey Tango Foxtrot I’m in development with WARP films writing a new screenplay called Detached and I’ve just started writing a new play called Exceptional Mercy which explores the prejudice against people with disability in prisons.