The Lucy Ayrton Three Minute Interview

Lucy Ayrton made her Fringe debut in 2012 when her first show, Lullabies to Make Your Children Cry, won her a Best Newcomer award at PBH's Free Fringe, along with a host of glowing reviews. Her new show, Lucy Ayrton: The Splitting of the Mermaid, tells the story of May, a mermaid so desperate to have a child that she is prepared to become human (losing her body, her voice, and her home) to do it. It's a retelling of The Little Mermaid updated to the present day and set in Hull. Grace Knight got in touch to talk feminism, fairy tales, and the female body.

I also wanted to work with a big contrast – to take a very concrete, real, non-whimsical place, and drop a big chunk of magic into it. I wanted to work with the Little Mermaid because it’s, again, a big part of my childhood – the Disney film came out when I was three. The idea of wanting to change your world and your body has always spoken to me.

The Little Mermaid and post-industrial Hull present quite a stark contrast. Why these two particularly?

“Partly, because I grew up in East Yorkshire – for me, Hull is where the sea is. I also wanted to work with a big contrast – to take a very concrete, real, non-whimsical place, and drop a big chunk of magic into it. I wanted to work with the Little Mermaid because it’s, again, a big part of my childhood – the Disney film came out when I was three. The idea of wanting to change your world and your body has always spoken to me.”

This show, and last year's show, “Lullabies to Make Your Children Cry”, both relate strongly to fairy tales. What is it about fairy tales that you find so exciting?

“They are such an old form, and such a female form. It was women who passed the first fairy tales and folk tales down, changing and adapting them over the generations. Because of this, I think fairy tales tell universal truths and examine the things we most need to understand.”

What is it about storytelling and performance poetry that particularly attracts you?

“I was a performer before I was a writer, so being on stage feels like a natural way of communicating. I like to get instant feedback from a story as well – I love that an audience can find you afterwards in a bar and start a conversation about what they’ve just heard. “

You've been a feminist since you were six, and this is clearly a very feminist show. Tell us about how feminism feeds into your work.

“I feel like the discourse around motherhood has this big part of the conversation missing. People talk about wanting a baby, or not wanting a baby, but we never seem to talk about how you’re meant to make up your mind. With marriage, we can freely ask each other how you knew it was the right time, how you knew “they were the one” – but conversations about whether or not you want children seem so intimate, only for close close friends and even then only after a bottle of wine.

“Reproductive choice is a huge part of feminism, and I’ve been involved in a lot of pro choice campaigning.I wanted to explore the other side of that – the choice to have, as well as not have, a child.”

What's next?

“Agh, good question! In terms of performance, I hope I’ll have a new show in a year or two – perhaps with a bit more music, and maybe it’ll be a two-hander with my director and composer, George Lewkowicz. “I also have a very-nearly-finished novel, The Museum of Stolen Things, lurking on my hard drive. It’s a young adult novel about a world where we can climb into fairytales. It’s about the nature of good and evil – what it means to be bad. I feel like that’s a massive fairytale theme I haven’t addressed. Maybe then I can write about something else.”

http://www.broadwaybaby.com/shows/lucy-ayrton-the-...

www.lucyayrton.co.uk

@lucyayrton

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this article has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now