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June Carryl - Blue Interview

LAPD Detective LaRhonda Parker knows her colleague well. He’s a family friend and her husband’s ex-partner. But now he’s become the man who shot an unarmed black motorcyclist at a traffic stop.

In Blue, newly promoted to The Force Investigation Department, Detective Parker’s first assignment is to investigate a 29-year police veteran, Sully. Initially, she wants to believe him. But his story keeps changing, and a disturbing revelation forces Parker to decide whether to protect “one of her own” or pursue an investigation that could up-end her marriage and her career.

In this unflinching study of the very real and current issues surrounding policing both in the USA and UK, US based writer and actor, June Carryl deftly illustrates how a career that used to be first and foremost (at least ostensibly) about wanting to ‘protect and serve’ has become a magnet for those is search of power.

After a 5-star run at the Edinburgh Fringe, the production is now heading to London's Seven Dials Playhouse from 5th to 30th March 2024. Fringe legend, actor, writer, theatre director, producer and playwright and Olivier Award Winner Guy Masterson called Blue “one of the most powerful experiences I've had in my 29 years on the Fringe”. 

We caught up with writer June Carryl to discuss the piece. (Please note this interview was from June 2023)

What inspired you to write Blue?
When George Floyd died, after the grief and anger, my response was to write a poem. Then the Capitol riot happened January 6th. The two are inextricably linked in my mind: the same fascistic impulse that drives policing and the motives of many who join its ranks brought those people to D.C.: the illusion that they are losing something, that the world belongs to them and the rest of us will comply or die. With that, the play was born.
Have did you approach writing process?
I was gifted the opportunity to join the writer's workshop at Echo Theater Company in Los Angeles, so basically I was tasked with turning in pages every two weeks over the course of a year – just sitting down and doing it. I knew there was interrogation, so it was a two-hander, and that there would be history between them. What changed was the nature of the relationship from purely combative to friendship tested history and myth.
Did have to do much research when developing the piece?
I did a lot of research surrounding internal investigative procedures, had the chance to talk to a lawyer in Chicago who'd seen one of the readings when he was in town; that and a lot of procedural TV. It was a bit challenging talking to people inside LAPD. They're not unfriendly, just limited in the scope of what they're willing to say. 
One of the big questions was how to achieve the actual conversation without a third party. One of the actors in the show had a friend who shared the statement that Parker reads,which she uses as a workaround to get her friend to talk. Thankfully, I have since heard that it's pretty accurate.

With the police being in the news a lot in the US and the UK over recent years, how do you think the landscape has changed in public opinion of policing and how does Blue follow that change of opinion?
I think the biggest change is we've got it on tape, and by "it" I mean that attitude of those hired to protect us. It's not the "he said/he said" it was when we first started commonly publicizing the brutality with the murder of Trayvon Martin or any of the succession since. 
Usually, what's captured is some panicked dude hunched over, both hands on his gun, escalating purely out of fear. Or it's a guy getting mobbed supposedly because he's big and poses a threat. I still see the dead-eyed calm of George Floyd's murderer. It's burned into me, us, I think, into all of us. 
One can't say (though people still try to) the intention to do violence isn't a thing. I think it's made fear of the police a more open and two-sided discussion. Not that the killing has stopped, but I'm trying with BLUE to crack open an existential collision between these two mindsets and ways of being in the world in a way that hopefully resonates with folks, then they just continue the conversation.
How do you feel that public opinion will continue to change in the coming years?
Until policing changes, public opinion won't. Here in the US, I think Uvalde (Robb Elementary School shootingwas the nail in the coffin. The "good guys" didn't just cower, they failed AND they prevented others from doing something to save those kids' lives. 
The public has a short attention span – only the families of the dead remember after a certain point – but we keep cycling back as tragedy after tragedy happens. It's like we've simply developed an appetite for it, just inured.  
Abroad, I see people more often ready to stand up to systems of policing. Look at the riots in France over the death of that 17 year old. But our hands are still tied. We need an entirely new model and there is none coming so far as I can tell.

Image from the Edinburgh Fringe production. Photo taken by Michael Matthews

What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing Blue?
My hope is that folks examine their own attitudes toward difference and different lived experiences, and question their assumptions about how the system actually works. 
What performances/shows have inspired you?
Suzan-Lori Parks Topdog/Underdog and Venus are such big influences in terms of what you can do with language. Anything Harold Pinter, even if he couldn't conceive of someone like me being in his plays. Old Times is one of the first plays I ever read and is still a favouriteArt by YasminaReza. I wish I could have seen Sir John Hurt do Krapp's Last Tape – The Naked Civil Servant was one of my first exposures to great acting as a kid – it would have been amazing. Idris Elba in Beast of No Nation.
Can you describe the show in 3 words?
Disquieting, ugly, uncomfortable.
Blue will be run at Seven Dials Playhouse in London from 5th to 30th March 2024. To book, visit

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