5 Questions with Veronica Clavijo and James Martin

Veronica Clavijo

James Martin: How is your role in the play different from anything you have done before?
Veronica Clavijo: I must say it is definitely a first that I get the opportunity to play this type of character for a period piece. Louise is majorly concerned with the societal values of the time and her character seems to be a reflection of the society as a whole. She seems to be ‘the voice of reason’ in the show and shows the audience how radical and forward thinking some of the others are. In the last show I did, Fiddler On The Roof, I played Tzeitel, a woman who was rebelling against society. It has been interesting to get into the mind of someone from the other side of the spectrum. It has been interesting to understand Louise’s truth and what family, society and honour mean to her.

What about Louise do you as Veronica most relate to?
Louise is passionate and outspoken and is actually quite forward with the men around her. Although I can’t relate to her wanting to do everything possible to appease the town and the society I can relate to her passion. I can relate to the fact that she will not stop until she is heard and that she challenges the men in her life. She is not afraid to speak her mind, to correct them and to question them. She is a fighter!

If you were a poet, what would you write about?
I would write about happiness, love and the human condition! And maybe my love of Harry Potter.

Why is this story important to be told in the 21st century?
I believe it is important because it still harbours relevant issues. The idea of love, family, honour and responsibility the play touches on are all things an audience can relate to. Another thing is the question of who should have Alison’s poetry? And, did she indeed write it for women. If that is the case, shouldn’t it be the women in her family who decide what to do with them?

Is there another character in the play that you can relate to?
I can relate to the character of Eben empathetically. Eben is sad, bored and is unhappy with his job and his life. I mean, we have all been there before! He wants more, he is sensitive and he wants to feel more in his life. He searches for truth, love and happiness. He wants to mean more and for his life to mean more. I think these are basic human feelings that we can all relate to. I love that Susan Glaspell gave these qualities to a man. Eben is not unfeeling, or stern, or angry or written to be aggressive in a stereotypically masculine way. For this reason, I think a lot of audience members will relate to him.

James Martin

Veronica Clavijo: What was it about the play, Alison’s House that made you want to audition?
James Martin: Reading the script for the first time, I found it to be a moving story with 11 different quirky characters with their own story and journey, all coming together to remember Alison in their own way. When I realised that I couldn’t not audition.

You play a character who is seemingly disinterested in Alison’s poetry, life and the respect she garnered through her literature. Tell us what you have discovered about Ted and how he feels about his Aunt Alison.
Doing my work on Ted, I found him to be the outcast in his family. Not quite fitting in with his father or Eben or even Elsa. Which leads me to believe that he is a bit of a mummy’s boy. We also need to consider the Ted was 2 years old when Alison died. So really Ted see’s Alison as this goldmine that he can make some money from, or at least use to pass college. I mean he obviously cares about her and the rest of the family, but If I was related to someone as influential as Alison Stanhope, I’d probably be trying to make money off them as well. However what I admire about Ted is that he’s a hard worker! He is willing to put all this work into something if he knows it’s going to make him successful.

Why do you think the play is still relevant if not more today?
Every family is so different, especially in today’s world. There is no ‘social norm’ when it comes to family. Everyone does it different and I think that this play shows that. It has the ability to tell a story of a close family that has grown apart and is now coming back together, and I think there is something beautiful and timeless in that.

What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process?
Just seeing how far and how big Ted can go. Trying to find the boundaries of Ted and his role in the family is so much fun and it’s a never ending Journey.

Finally, if Ted was put into a modern setting what type of millennial would he be?
Ted’s a big personality with a good mind for business. I think he would be some kind of social media influencer, like a YouTuber just doing dumb things on camera and entertaining millions.

Veronica Clavijo and James Martin are appearing in Alison’s House, by Susan Glaspell.
Dates: 4 – 21 April, 2018
Venue: The Depot Theatre