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Roxane Bourges - Rachel Interview

RACHEL is a comedic, raunchy one-woman monologue that questions our choices in the face of social pressure and global challenges.

Meet Rachel, a career-driven force navigating the ruthless currents of the corporate world. Juggling roles, she excels at her job and ticks society’s boxes for success. Yet, beneath the polished exterior, Rachel grapples with the incongruities of her life.

Her pursuit of success, comfort, and validation unravels as Rachel confronts her own authenticity. The narrative unfolds against a backdrop of modern-day paradoxes, exploring themes of love, identity, and societal expectations.

Written and directed by François Lockhart, the play has been playing at The Hope Theatre where it runs until 8th June 2024. We caught up with producer Roxane Bourges to learn more.

Where did your arts career begin?
If you look back far enough, it would be ballet when I was a child. Unfortunately, I could never remember the choreography. Then, funnily enough for someone who can't really sing, I went on to musicals when I was at school in NY. After my family moved back to Paris, I went to the local conservatory, then to the Cours Florent before moving to London for my MA Performance (Acting) at Mountview. My first professional jobs as an actress were on the London fringe circuit with Maiden Speech Festival so I have so much love for those black box theaters. I also work in TV production on shows like TOWIEMade In Chelsea, and A League Of Their Own: Road Trip. And because two jobs just isn't enough, this year I started teaching acting at Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop and launched my own company, Curtain Bangs Productions. 

Were there any people or performances that had a big impact on your career?
In 2015, when I was still living in Paris, I saw Thyestes by Simon Stone at Les Amandiers. I fully fell in love with the intensity of the opera tracks between scenes, how delightfully voyeuristic the set design felt, and how everyone expressed so much without ever naming what they were feeling. Then Yerma at the Young Vic was so beautifully intense yet intimate, I went twice. Never have I been so delighted to see someone puke. I could only go once to see Phaedra at the National, but I talked about it so much, I basically relived the show. 

I'm a TV girlie at heart, but those shows are seared in my brain. There is something so humbling and inspiring about seeing such meaningful work. It makes me want to keep getting better and better so I can also reach that quality of creation and expression. If Simon Stone wants to hire me as his personal hype man, my email is on my website. 

How did you approach the development of the piece?
François and Clara got me onboard after the show's previous runs at The White Bear and The Space. By then, the show was fully developed and blocked. So my job was to make sure everything admin, production, and marketing was handled so they could focus on the creation. For someone so creative, I really do love a budget forecast spreadsheet. 

Roxane Bourges. Photo by Michael Shelford

How would you describe your writing style to anyone unfamiliar with you?
Up to now, I've used comedy and pop culture to explore societal questions with a healthy dose of feminism. Right now, Clara Courty-Zanca, who plays Rachel, and I are also in a play in Paris (All Will Be Well, Théâtre Le Funambule), that we co-wrote with another team of francophone actresses. The play looks at family, cultural identity, love, and how uniquely each of us reacts when faced with big life choices, and grief. It all sounds pretty serious, but there's a lot of playfulness and laughter involved. 

Fellow french producer and actress Aurore Martin and I are also developing a play about pharmaceutical scandals and diet culture so I'm excited to see what that looks like. 

What keeps you inspired?
At the moment, I'm very into comedy shows, Mae Martin and Patti Harrison at the Soho in particular. Then, and I know this is corny, but every week, I'm inspired by the quality of work my students and classmates do at AMAW. Their willingness to open up, commit, and constantly improve  makes me so proud to be a part of this industry. 

I'm not the first one to discover it (french rapper, and personal idol of mine, Nekfeu mentioned it in an interview), but walking, especially somewhere as eclectic as London, is also a sure way to see some crazy stuff. I've been in London for about 8 years, and I still have pinch-me-moments whenever I get to Tower Bridge. 

What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing the show?
First, I want them to have a good time. The show is very cleverly written by François Lockhart, and Clara Courty-Zanca puts so much commitment and energy into it, I know audiences will connect with the character and her struggles. There's something very unique in the flow of punchlines, yet very universal about Rachel's wants and fears. 

Where can people see the show and follow the journey beyond?
We're on at The Hope Theatre (Islington) June 4-8 or you can follow us on Instagram @rachel.theplay 
I'm also on there @roxanemnbourges, if you're craving photos of my cat, Simon*.

*Unrelated to Simon Stone, that was his name when I adopted him. 

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