Rhiann directs first play at major festival

From left: The cast Julie Maxwell and Matthew Forsythe with director Rhiann Jeffrey
From left: The cast Julie Maxwell and Matthew Forsythe with director Rhiann Jeffrey

A Glenavy woman will be directing her first professional production at the Ulster Bank Belfast International Arts Festival just months after graduating.

Twenty-three year old Rhiann Jeffrey who attended Harmony Hill Primary School, is directing Mydidae, which is written by Skins and This is England writer Jack Thorne, at the MAC in Belfast from October 20-25.

Mydidae is making its Irish debut and could be set to shock theatre goers as it features full frontal nudity while focusing on the delicate issue of child loss and the effects it can have on a relationship.

Rhiann explained why she chose this play to be her first professional production.

She said: “Thorne is a really prominent writer at the moment. I wanted something quite intimate as the show will be upstairs at the MAC.

“It is a beautifully honest script and will be a unique experience for the audience.

“We don’t often see plays that explore relationships over here.”

Rhiann knows the nudity may be an issue for some people but maintains it is necessary.

She said: “It is a shame that it is an issue. Belfast is not used to this but its time we were exposed to the same kind of theatre as the rest of the UK.

“It is not done gratuitously. The nudity is necessary.

“I want it to be realistic so we couldn’t have people in the bath in wet suits or anything.”

It is rare for someone so young to be directing their own show but Rhiann hopes this is only the start of things to come.

She was awarded the BBC Fellowship after graduating with a degree in drama from Queens and this has allowed her to be mentored for the year by Prime Cuts artistic director, Emma Jordan.

Rhiann said: “I’m grateful for the opportunity.

“This is such a great platform for not only me but everyone involved in this production to show what they can do.”

Matt Forsythe, one out of only two actors in the play, spoke about the daunting experience of appearing nude in front of a full house.

He said: “I’ve done partial nudity before but this will be my first time completely nude. I’m not feeling too bad.

“It was pretty daunting going to rehearsals for the first time but after those first few hurdles it is fine.”

Matt made clear that the play is light in places even though it focuses on a heavy subject.

He said: “The audience are like flies on the wall in a normal bathroom environment but then the rug will be pulled form under their feet and they’ll see what’s really happening.

“There is a lot of comedy as well but it will be an emotional roller coaster.

Mydidae opens at the MAC on October 20 and runs until October 25. Tickets are on sale now at: www.themaclive.com.