We interviewed the cast and crew to take you behind the scenes of theatre production Behind the Curtained Door.
The play is about three Chinese women whose friendships prove to be stronger than the lies and betrayals they face together. Commissioned by Manchester Confucius Institute, the play premiered in Manchester last year and is coming to Leeds on 14 June as part of its UK tour. Read more about the project in this post.
Samuel James Hedley is the sound designer and co-director for this play. Like the other cast and crew members, Samuel is currently a student at the University of Manchester and is studying Drama. He hopes to become a teacher in the future.
The characters in the play are British Chinese. How do you describe your nationality?
I am half Chinese half British. My Mom is from Hong Kong and my Dad is from the UK. I was born and raised in Hong Kong.
What is your role in the production, and what was your motivation for getting involved?
Officially I was the Sound Designer for the original production, I also helped with the set design. In this version I am reprising my roles, I will also be helping out with directing.
When the email came through about the commission, I thought about what a great opportunity it would be to work on a project about Chinese people, written by a Chinese person. I was torn because I wanted to act in it, but I knew that filling the three creative roles for the commission to go forward would be a challenge, so I decided to apply for a creative team role to ensure that the project would go ahead.
Having this kind of representation onstage is a really powerful thing, this was more important to me than being able to act in it. I had done some work with sound design before so applying for the sound designer role felt like the best use of my skills.
I thought about what a great opportunity it would be to work on a project about Chinese people, written by a Chinese person. Having this kind of representation onstage is a really powerful thing.
Please can you tell us a bit more about your role in the production?
We have created an entirely unique experience for show.
Sound is really effective at creating atmosphere and feeling within the world of the production, it is really great at drawing the audience into the world that we are trying to create. As sound designer it is my job to create these sonic worlds and make the audience feel like they are a part of it or feel a certain way about what is happening onstage. Using soundscapes and music is a great way of achieving this.
I commissioned a talented composer friend of mine, Nicholas Woo, who composed an incredible soundtrack, of which some of the songs feature throughout the production. Music is especially good at conveying emotions and atmosphere, having an original soundtrack means that we have created an entirely unique experience for show.
I hope our emotions come through in the work we produce.
How did you feel when you first read the script for the play?
I was excited to get started, I was thinking about all the sonic possibilities that the script allows for, especially during the fourth scene. Creating that world was extra fun.
Which aspect of the project and tour are you most excited about?
Being able to share this with everyone. It is rare to see student productions about Chinese people made by a majority Chinese cast and creative team.
I think what we have made is of high quality and I hope that people will recognise our efforts. Recognising the work legitimises the kinds of stories we are telling, and I hope we inspire other people to do so as well.
It is rare to see student productions about Chinese people made by a majority Chinese cast and creative team.
Can you think of a detail (e.g. part of the set, or a line in the script) that you hope the audience will notice and appreciate? Can you describe why you think this detail is interesting/important?
I hope the audience listens to the music, our composer wrote some incredible songs and I hope that his efforts are recognised.
Behind the Curtained Door features a full cast of British Chinese characters, which many people may not have seen before. Can you recommend any other plays, films or media that feature China or Chinese people as main characters?
I would recommend some music, I really like the Taiwanese band Sunset Rollercoaster, they are a Jazz influenced synth-pop band, I think their music is really fantastic. I also really like deca joins, another great Taiwanese band.
Can you tell us a fun or unusual fact about yourself?
I have a black belt in Judo.