THEATRE | INTERVIEW WITH AMAARAH NEEDHAM FROM NEW THEATRE SHOW ‘WOW EVERYTHING IS AMAZING’

wevIn Wow Everything is Amaz­ing, tech­no­lo­gic­al pro­gress is both inspir­a­tion­al and utterly ter­ri­fy­ing. Cre­ated by youth led theatre com­pany Sounds Like Chaos, Wow Everything is Amaz­ing is a music­al that explores the uncer­tainty that comes with an ever expand­ing digit­al world.

With an ori­gin­al score that spans rap, gos­pel and hip-hop, Wow Everything is Amaz­ing brings to mind Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World with its crit­ic­al exam­in­a­tion of our fer­vour for tech­no­lo­gic­al advance­ment and much like Hux­ley, sug­gests that it can be indis­tin­guish­able from reli­gious fan­at­icism. The big ques­tion the show asks is wheth­er our zeal for digit­al con­nec­tion might make us vic­tims of crip­pling loneli­ness and lack of pur­pose.

Sounds Like Chaos is a pro­fes­sion­al theatre com­pany cre­ated by young people, aged between 12 to 21 years old from diverse back­grounds in Dept­ford. One of the lead act­resses in the show, Amaarah Need­ham, joined Sounds Like Chaos when she was 14 years old. Now 18 years old, Wow Everything is Amaz­ing is her third pro­fes­sion­al per­form­ance oppor­tun­ity with the com­pany and she has also per­formed in Phe­nom­ena, at the Albany, Bat­ter­sea Arts Centre and the Tra­verse in Edin­burgh, as well as Fire In the Machine, at the Albany, Bat­ter­sea Arts Centre. We caught up with Amaarah, to dis­cuss her work with Sounds Like Chaos and Wow Everything is Amaz­ing.

Amaarah Need­ham

Can you tell us what we can expect from Wow Everything is Amaz­ing?

Music, great out­fits and a whole lot of energy. Set in the church of the future, it poses a num­ber of ques­tions that are too often ignored.

How did you get involved with Sounds Like Chaos?

My drama teach­er at sec­ond­ary school sug­ges­ted I’d join since I wanted to con­tin­ue drama after year 9 but my school didn’t offer a Drama GCSE (another reas­on why theatre com­pan­ies like this are so import­ant).

Sounds Like Chaos is a theatre com­pany where the shows are cre­ated by young people for young people. What has the exper­i­ence been like work­ing with the com­pany?

It’s been really great. I’ve had such a great exper­i­ence per­form­ing in so many per­form­ances through­out the years I’ve been with Sounds Like Chaos. I’ve atten­ded and ran work­shops with so many dif­fer­ent people that I now feel very com­fort­able to lead classes and work­shops by myself in all sorts of envir­on­ments, with dif­fer­ent people, ages and back­grounds.

Does cre­at­ing a show, and in a sense run­ning a theatre com­pany (mak­ing decisions on the show, music, cho­reo­graphy, dir­ec­tion) ever become daunt­ing or chal­len­ging? What chal­lenges do you think you face again­st oth­er theatre groups?

Due to the way in which we cre­ate, the work is nev­er presen­ted to us in a way that feels daunt­ing. In fact, it gives us a huge sense of pride when we are on stage say­ing or singing words we have con­trib­uted to cre­ate and develop.

One of the cent­ral themes in Wow Everything is Amaz­ing con­cerns wheth­er tech­no­logy shapes us or wheth­er we shape tech­no­logy. For people of your gen­er­a­tion, what would you say are some of the neg­at­ive and pos­it­ive effects of tech­no­logy?

As with everything, tech­no­logy is as good or as bad as you make it. In a sense, it’s great because you can eas­ily decide what your timeline con­sists of, mak­ing it easy to isol­ate and remove neg­at­iv­ity if you choose to. How­ever, it also means that social issues that deserve atten­tion can be eas­ily dis­missed and one can end up liv­ing in a bubble.

With con­stant stor­ies sur­round­ing Brex­it, AI, and auto­ma­tion tak­ing people’s jobs, etc, do you think it’s harder for young people to remain hope­ful? Are there any things which make you feel optim­ist­ic about the future?

Being a young per­son in the arts, I think there is always things to be hope­ful for, espe­cially with the way it is being made more free and access­ible. Everything is always pro­gress­ing, we just have to find a way to fin­esse it and make it work for us. There has nev­er been job secur­ity for any­one; first we were told that going to uni would guar­an­tee us employ­ment and that wasn’t true, so I think we’re finally find­ing ways to feed ourselves in the best way we know how.

What attrac­ted you to per­form­ing in the theatre in the first place?

I’ve always been fairly loud and dra­mat­ic so but nev­er really engaged in any of the arts out­side of edu­ca­tion until I got to sec­ond­ary school, which is when I real­ised that being loud and dra­mat­ic wasn’t neces­sar­ily a bad thing and that I could chan­nel it into some­thing pro­duct­ive. What ini­tially attrac­ted me to it was the fact that I felt more com­fort­able to be myself when I was on stage because I had an excuse. Then after I became more con­fid­ent about per­form­ing I real­ised that my work could be used in a pos­it­ive way.

What’s next after this show? Exams, more act­ing? Any oth­er pro­jects from Sounds Like Chaos that we should know about?

Once this show fin­ishes, I’m going to be a train­ee with Sounds Like Chaos and The Albany,  tak­ing part in the Wood­peck­er Youth Club to develop my abil­ity to run work­shops with young people. After that, I’m just going to fig­ure it out as I go along, and con­tin­ue get­ting as much exper­i­ence in act­ing, dir­ect­ing and facil­it­at­ing as I can.

 Sounds Like Chaos and the Albany present

WOW EVERYTHING IS AMAZ­ING

A new reli­gion for the digit­al future by Gen­er­a­tion Z

The Albany, Lon­don, Tue 16 – Thu 18 April, 7.30pm

New Diorama, Lon­don, Mon 24 June, 8.30pm

HOME, Manchester, Sat 29 June, 7pm

Tobac­co Fact­ory, Bris­tol, Sun 30 June, 7pm

 

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Mark Mukasa

Mark Mukasa

Mark is a South Lon­don based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He’s also an MMA and his­tory enthu­si­ast who tries to keep his love of animé under wraps.

About Mark Mukasa

Mark Mukasa
Mark is a South London based writer and avid fan of all things hip hop. He's also an MMA and history enthusiast who tries to keep his love of anime under wraps.