Modupe Salu on queer female friendship and The Girl with Glitter in her Eye at The Bunker

Hi Modupe. Where are you now?

Hi! I am on my bed, I have to point out that it’s a new bed and mattress as the excitement of this is still very real!

What were you doing five minutes ago? 

I was listening to a new podcast called ‘Modern Love’ which features the popular New York Times column and is hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti and Daniel Jones (NYT)

What book are you reading at the moment?

Ah the last book I was reading was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. However can listening to podcasts count in this section? As that is one of my favorite things to do. 

You play Helen / Furies in the upcoming production of The Girl With Glitter In Her Eye at the Bunker which is a multidisciplinary work that deals with issues of queer female friendship and betrayal. Can you tell me about the play?

Yes, the title is quite a mouthful right? However I believe what the play explores is very simple – When is it too far? In friendships, when do you overstep the line or cross the boundaries, in art when does your voice become someone else’s lack of voice, at home, when does your home become someone’s elses location for a new business venture. All these questions are explored in the play for people to notice and think about. 

…And tell me about your role?

Helen is a young woman who has a dream and is given the opportunity to pursue it. Her dreams are realised but it comes at the expense of relationship with closest friend Phil 

What is the most important thing you want to get across to audiences when playing Helen?

I want the audience to ‘see’ her  but also realise how fickle human beings are. 

The production was created by OPIA Collective. Had you seen any of their work before?

I met Masha at The National Youth Theatre, we were in the same course group and she reached out to a few of us to read a draft of a play called ‘The Girl with Glitter in her Eye’ that was in 2017. I was blessed to have worked with OPIA when it was still a small theatre company and now it has grown into this amazing collective where talented people with all kinds of stories get to meet, create and work together, it’s genius. 

This is the first time you’ve performed at the Bunker, is it a venue you admire?

Yes! The shows they put on speaks for itself. The Glitter family are honoured to be performing there. It is a venue that is needed and gives a platform for a beautiful vast group of voices to be heard. The Bunker shouldn’t be going anywhere. 

You were also in Vaseline by Amyra Leon this year at the Battersea Arts Centre, a show about the black female experience. Is telling stories about what it means to be a black woman in the world today important to you and why? 

Yes it is important to me because I am a black woman whose stories and experiences should be a part of all the other stories that have been told for years. Other people’s stories have never been questioned on why are you telling them? They live, experience and retell their story. Well, believe it or not we also live, experience and want to retell our stories. So that we too, see and hear ourselves in theatre, film, books and on the radio etc. 

What kind of part would you like to play next?

I would love to play someone that reflects a lot of people I know today. A woman who loves and is loved, who has complex relationships, wears several identities to survive in society today, works hard and laughs hard too, makes mistakes and has a cause to celebrate as well. What I’m describing might sound mundane however I would like to see a black woman play this role more often just because. 

You graduated from the National Youth Theatre not that long ago in 2017, what would you two years ago think about where you are now?

This is a hard question to answer because I have to now practice what I tend to preach which is to be kind to yourself. So with that mindset, I will be proud of where I am now, proud because I have not given up, I picked myself up when I’ve been knocked down and I have stayed true to myself along the way which has shown through the projects that I do. 

What advice do you have for anyone aspiring to be an actor?

Look after yourself, your mind, body and the company you keep. As actors we are in the firing line for criticism, judgement and instability. So it is important to be healthy mentally. However, with acting, I would say study it, in whatever way you can. It doesn’t have to be through ‘drama school’ watch the professionals on TV, in theatre and practice, read and practice, create work and continue to practice which really means play. I believe the aim is to portray ‘truth’ that’s what the audience wants to see. The world craves to see the truth without realising it. 

What’s the hardest thing about your job?

Probably the inconsistency of work. Learning your lines or exploring a new character’s world may be challenging but I love what I do so not knowing when the next project is going to come is mentally taxing. However I’ve learnt to keep myself busy, have great people around you, consciously look after your mental and physical health and it always helps when your ‘other’ job ( the one that consistently pays the bills) is good and not a place that you dread to go. 

And the best thing?

Having the privilege to explore a new character and their world. Getting under their skin and your own skin too. I get to go in-depth and learn something new every time I work on a project, researching the time period, location, class and relationships they’re in. Also creating work with people that you end up sharing real personal moments with which always seems to fast track your trust with one another. Working with friends that can become family, on something that is fuelled with passion to present to the world for entertainment but a lot of the time teaching and healing is the best thing about what I do.

The Girl With Glitter In Her Eye by Masha Kevinovna
Bunker Theatre | 12th – 27th Jan 2020

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