Could you first introduce yourself to the readers?
I’m Henry C Krempels, the founder and Artistic Director of Anima Theatre Company. We’ve been going for about 18 months so we’re fairly young as a company. I am a writer and director, often both at the same time, which is the case for The Sleeper. My interest in theatre stems from a desire to tell stories that haven’t been heard before, particularly the stories of people who struggle to be heard.
Could you describe your act for us?
I like the idea of it being an act. That’s exactly what it is. I mean, it’s a play but the whole thing is about how we tell stories in theatre that belong to people other than ourselves. It’s all about it being an act.
The play began after an experience I had on an overnight train through Europe. I came back to my bunk and discovered that there was a refugee hiding in it. The play explores that moment over and over again. It gives this (otherwise unknown) woman a voice. It explores who she was and who she might have been.
Why did you want to perform at Brighton Fringe?
I’ve been a regular visitor to Brighton Fringe. I love the atmosphere, the range of shows and the universal talent on display. There is so much to discover throughout the city. It’s such an exciting festival to be part of.
Why did you decide to apply for WINDOW?
We have been looking at ways of touring The Sleeper. It is designed to be able to tour. It’s minimal in set and tech. We felt like it was such a good opportunity to get people to see our hard work. This play has been in the works since 2015 and we’re all immensely proud of it.
How did you react to being told you’d been selected to be showcased?
If I remember correctly, I stood up, put my hands in the air and did a lap of honour around the kitchen table.
How has it helped you so far?
We’ve been contacted by a few people who may otherwise not have heard of us. It’s put us in touch with other companies on the list and means, when we head to Brighton we’ve got something to talk about! As I said before, there’s so much talent in Brighton and so many things worth seeing. I hope this selection might mean people think The Sleeper is worth seeing too.
What is the best part of your job?
Oh, well, that’s a difficult one. I’m one of those people who loves their job. I feel incredibly lucky to do what I do (of course, the challenges are still very real but they are in any industry). If you’re pushing me for an answer, I think the best part of my job is towards the end of week one of rehearsals. Far enough in that everyone knows everyone but still with so much to discover about the play, about each other. I think being in a rehearsal room with good ideas and some actors is about as good as any job gets.
Conversely, what has been the most challenging?
You have to have insane amounts of belief in your work to do this job and those moments (everyone gets them) when you just aren’t sure exactly what it is you’re making, when you think you’re not on the top of your game, when you don’t know which direction to take next, they can be so difficult. But those are the moments, I’ve found, that end up being the most rewarding when you look back. When you did it. When you made something.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Yes. I always have to tell my actors to “surprise me”. It’s a compulsion.
What is the process you go through when looking to create a new show? Are you very disciplined or do you need to be strict with yourself?
I am not someone who finds it easy to work through things when it’s just not coming. I’m not someone who could ever write for 8 hours a day regardless. When I am working though, I work. And that’s all I do. I think about it like a hamster wheel that’s always moving at the same speed. Once you’re on, it’s amazing. The difficult part is getting back on once your off.
What has been the single best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?
Don’t be afraid to go and do something else. When you come back you’ll probably realise you know a lot more.
What do you think has been the most dramatic change to the industry in the last five years?
I think probably the way audiences receive plays, digest them and then talk about them. New media like Twitter has changed that in a really interesting way. You’re hearing what people think about a play in the interval, sometimes even during the play itself but most often about 2 minutes after they experienced it. I have no opinion on whether that’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but I think it’s really worth exploring. Theatre is, after all, all about audience.
If you could have any other job in the world, what would it be?
I trained as a chef not so long ago (remember that go away and do something else thing?) and the immediate gratification, the creative impulses and the zen-like work involved in cooking is incredibly rewarding. Although the work itself is long, hot and strenuous. Actually, I’ve changed my mind, I’d be a carpenter.
Imagine you possess the power to send one message back in time to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
What advice would you give to young people who want to enter the industry? What should they do and not do?
They should be organised, generous and, above all, nice to have around. That last one I think still applies for me and the people I look to work with. Talent is secondary to being nice to have around (I think I’m paraphrasing Lucy Prebble here).
Where can people find you on the internet, and find out more about your show?
Our website is www.animatheatrecompany.com
Twitter/Facebook/Instagram are all @animatheatrecompany and we are always on one of these.