Interview: Velenzia Spearpoint and Rebecca Pryle on Follow the Lines

by Jim Keaveney.

Promotional image for Follow the Lines by Dylan Woodley

Follow The Lines, opening next week at The Bread & Roses Theatre, explores the world of Chloe, a gay woman in her mid-30s who spends her weekends partying. Unable to accept responsibility and face ‘the real world Chloe continues to follow the rabbit hole, until life starts to take its toll. Whilst she boasts about wanting to be a writer, Chloe also craves finding love for the first time and struggles with her sexuality. Soon she realises that her choices could jeopardise her future.

The coming-of-age one woman show is presented by The Bread and Roses Theatre Company. Written by Olivia Pryle and starring her sister Rebecca as Chloe, it is directed by Bread and Roses Artistic Director Velenzia Spearpoint. Ahead of opening, I had the chance to hear from both Rebecca and Velenzia about what it’s like to bring the play to The Bread and Roses Theatre, following its sold out run at Clapham Fringe last year.

Q&A with Velenzia Spearpoint and Rebecca Pryle

What can you tell us about Follow the Lines?

Velenzia: Follow the Lines is a one woman delayed coming of age story about a queer woman in her 30s. The play started as a monologue about accepted recreational drug and alcohol use in London. After re-writes and an R&D (research and development) process Olivia (writer), Rebecca (performer) and I worked on bringing Chloe’s full story to light. We quickly discovered that there was a lot more to say around this and how feeling like you have to have it all worked out by your 30s can seep into all of the decisions you make.

The show packs a punch with intimate storytelling, comedy, movement and sprinkling of UK garage.

What was it about the play that made it right for The Bread & Roses Theatre?

Velenzia: Whilst coming of age stories exist we hadn’t seen the story interpreted on stage this way before, it’s a relatable look on trying to handle a fast paced life in your 30s with a lot of scope for different form to be used. Often stories that touch on drug use are littered with extreme examples of addiction, this one works on how we can swing wildly between toxic wellbeing and partying to try and feed our need for connection. There really is a little bit of Chloe in all of us.

We also loved that it’s set in South London and written by a South London-based writer, we are very interested in offering a platform to stories from our local area. Olivia has attended our monthly Playwrights Circle and had shorts staged with us at The Platform and V-Day events so it is brilliant to stage the work of an upcoming writer whose work we have seen develop over the last few years.

Follow the Lines is written by your sister Olivia, at want point in the writing process did you become aware of the play and what was it that piqued your interest in performing in the show?

Rebecca: In 2020, my sister had written a scene of a party session, one of those ones where you are absorbed in the picamix of the night’s antics but then follows the instant regret and fear. After reading this scene I knew there was something in it that needed to be explored. So, my sister got writing and created a draft of this play loosely based on her life and the world around her. It was hilarious yet painful, raw and honest. A vulnerable portrayal of someone’s deep riddled insecurities and their need to escape but their conflicting desire to be better. It was brave and I really enjoyed the character journey and knew this would be a challenge I wanted to take on as an actor.

What can you tell us about Chloe as a character?

Rebecca: Chloe is a fun, lovable, ambitious, lost, anxious and vulnerable character, longing for love and a career in theatre and a life she can be proud of. She tries to claw her way out of bad lifestyle choices that she can’t seem to break free of, this only adds to the anxiety that Chloe suffers from as she tries to muddle her way through life trying to figure it all out.

How much have you been able to relate to Chloe and the experiences she goes through in the play?

Rebecca: I have been able to relate to Chloe in a number of ways, stuck in a rut, not having clear direction, making bad choices, lost, anxiety, so yes many of the themes running through the play have rung true for me too.

Has the play changed since its sold-out Clapham Fringe show last year?

Velenzia: Yes! We were lucky enough to have some brilliant feedback from our audiences. Olivia redrafted the script and we worked on giving some more time to some of the audiences favourite characters – you’ll have to come and see it to guess who those are!

One of the most obvious differences is production value. We have had a brilliant team of creatives join us in the room to bring the story together including; Producer Evie Osbon, Social Media Manager Eleanor Hill, Sound Designer Sassy Clyde, Set & Costume Designer Constance Villemot, Lighting Designer Jodie Underwood and Movement Director Phoebe Stapleton.

And if you haven’t checked out our promo shots by Dylan Woodley or our trailer by Rich Rusk then you’re missing out!

How would you describe Follow the Lines to someone considering buying a ticket for the show?

Rebecca: We are proud to say that this is female led production with a trio of queer artists – Playwright, Director, Producer at the helm, we unpack drug culture, modern dating, mental health & toxic wellness through a queer lens. The play will make you laugh, cry, cringe and make you want to dance. It is a love letter to South London Millennials.

Velenzia: If you’re a millennial who’s ever tried to sort their life out you’ll love it and if not it’s still worth watching 1 actor play 13 different characters in 60 mins. You’ll laugh, cringe, party and cry – what more could you want on a night out?

Follow the Lines is at The Bread and Roses Theatre from 21 to 25 March