Director Andrew French talks about his show ‘Maud’ which will play as part of this year’s VAULT Festival

Courtesy of Lidia Crisafulli.

Whilst out on a run in his local neighbourhood in Georgia, aspiring football player Ahmaud ‘Maud’ Arbery, who was 25 at the time, was fatally shot in a racially aggravated attack. A story that gripped and incensed the world – the tragic case brought further attention to the ever present issues of policing and gun control in the US, the incident resulting in the perpetrators being prosecuted and Georgia passing its first ever hate-crimes law. Following the subsequent trial of the three white defendants which led to Georgia passing its first ever hate-crimes law, Maud presents media stories, testimonies and historical interviews. The show exploring how a harrowing video recording of the deadly shooting opened the door for a trial that gripped a world already reeling from numerous protests over racial justice. Marking Andrew French’s directorial debut, Maudis set to play from the 21st to 25th February at this year’s Vault Festival. Ahead of the run, Andrew tells us more about this potent story further, plans for the show beyond VAULT Festival and what audiences can expect.

Hi Andrew, your show Maud will play as part of this year’s Vault Festival at the Crescent from 21st to 25th February. How are you feeling ahead of the show?

I’m excited! I’ve always said that this show is an experiment. Not just in the work onstage but in how we attempt to approach this new world as creatives and as people. I love the vibe at VAULT. If you haven’t been, it’s like all your theatre fringe dreams come true all at once! I’m really looking forward to hearing the conversations, debates (arguments?) that I’m hopeful will happen after the show.

Maud is based on the real events of Ahmaud “Maud” Arbery’s tragic murder in Georgia (2020) that was deemed a ‘modern day lynching’ by his family lawyers. Maud follows the subsequent trial of the three white defendants which led to Georgia passing its first ever hard-crimes law. How have you found exploring this significant story further?

It’s been fascinating. We’ve encouraged discussion in the rehearsal room and our designer, Libby Moore has been brilliant in sourcing really interesting historical documents and pictures. But, as ever with race, the real search starts with yourself. It can sometimes be joyous, sometimes painful but never unrewarding journey. All I will say in answer to your question is: The roots go deep!

Directed by yourself, created by Jeffrey Miller who also stars in it alongside Perry Williams, with sound by Ben Paveley and Cathy Dixon, lighting and video design by Roberto Esquenazi Alkabes, set by Libby Monroe, composition by George Rigby and stage management by Phoebe Francis, how have you all worked together to realise the show?

Theatre is such a precious thing now. I think we sometimes forget that. I really wanted to hear from everybody on the team. This really has been a team effort. Everyone says that, but it really is true this time. Phoebe Francis our stage manager has been as forthright and insightful as one could hope for. I find that inspiring and invigorating.

Beyond Vault Festival, are there any plans for the show moving forward?

There are plans for the show moving forward. Edinburgh and the United States have been mentioned. But so much of that depends on the reception of the show now. It’s an expensive thing putting on a show, any show.  What Maud needs is a wider audience, on both sides of the Atlantic.

What have you learned/taken away from working on the play?

So much! I’ve learned that I really enjoy directing! That theatre still has the power to inspire and challenge. That we’re all connected. That choice of rehearsal rooms is key!! And that the more you think you know, the less you know.

What can audiences expect from the show?

Two actors going all out to tell a story. You can expect to hear some quite extraordinary music from George Rigby and to hear a tragic story told from a new perspective. We try not to be definitive. Obviously, the basic story is a tragic one. But I wanted to investigate a little more of the roots of why this keeps on happening.

What would you like for audiences to take away from the show?

I’d like audiences to think and laugh and cry. But I really want the conversation that we have started to continue afterwards. I’d like them to be reminded how the simple act of standing up in front of people and telling a story makes all of us a little more… human.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

Maud will play from Tuesday 21st until Saturday 25th February 2023 at the Crescent/VAULT Festival. To find out more about the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop