Interview with Natalie Ibu, director of good dog
23 January 2017
Can you begin by telling us what the play is about and why you decided to produce it?
good dog is an astonishingly written monologue following a 13 year old boy – our narrator – over many years. It’s about community, about growing up in a multicultural borough, about trauma and about what happens when you lose faith in being good. I think, ultimately, it’s a celebration of the resilience of people.
This play goes back in time to the early noughties but rather than feel nostalgic, it feels vital as we face similarly difficult times - when the UK's ethnic and class divides have rarely felt as wide. It feels to me that we - all of us - have a job to do to promote empathy, compassion and humanity and Arinzé’s play is a real gift.
What themes does the show explore?
good dog is a true epic - spanning multiple streets, characters, families and years. The narrator is a little black boy who slips through the cracks but this ability to go unnoticed, gives him a privileged panoramic point of view. Boys like this - neither excellent and extraordinary nor dangerous – are often a victim of quiet neglect; they don’t have a voice, don’t get attention but not in good dog. It’s about faith, about growing up, about being a boy and being a man, about survival and resilience, about estates and about rebellion and protest.
How do you prepare to direct a play like that?
Researching the play is one of my favourite bits of the job as you spend time immersing yourself in the world of the play and becoming an expert of a very idiosyncratic world – the themes of the play seem to be everywhere you turn when you’re working on a new show.
I start with the themes and always end up somewhere thrilling and, sometimes, random but it’s about exploring all the different angles and textures of the play. Each rehearsal process is bespoke and particular but this one will be even more unique because it’s just one actor and me (plus a great team including a stage manager and assistant director).
good dog premiere's from 14-18 February at Watford Palace Theatre