A Q & A with Emma Packer

On Tuesday of next week I’m going to be attending the press night for Ctrl+Alt+Delete, a one woman show written and performed by Emma Packer, and directed by Katherine Hayes.Turning around themes of control, love, power, abuse and what it means to grow up in our modern world, it’s sure to be a thought-provoking and stimulating evening. Emma was kind enough to make time for a quick Q & A in the run up to the show. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did – totally fascinated now and very much looking forward to the show!

1.       What was your original inspiration for Ctrl+Alt+Delete?

I wanted to explore and draws parallels between control and abuse of power within a domestic setting and in the wider society from the government, media and the police.

CTRL+ALT+DELETE examines the myth that all mothers are loving and protective of their children which serves to isolate us from the truth and the harsh realities of life.   The show addresses the subject of female violence. I feel society has a skewed perception of this subject.  Whether it is female on female or female on male violence, this kind of violence is rarely addressed although we know it goes on.   I have known quite a few people that have suffered mental and/or physical abuse at the hands of a wife, girlfriend or a mother.  I hope that CTRL+ALT+DELETE can help raise awareness around a very important subject matter.

2. I see from the press release that you’ve rewritten the show since its run at the Edinburgh Fringe. What have you chosen to omit, add or change, and why?

The Edinburgh festival is such a great platform for new material.  You learn very quickly what needs to go and what needs further exploration.  I was also very inspired by other writers when I was up there and hopefully this steep learning curve has resulted in a piece that has matured and developed in the right way.
We didn’t really get to ‘meet’ Mum in the previous show.   I have therefore developed her so we can see who she is as person and understand her a bit more.  Amy has grown as well as a character; she has matured with the piece but hopefully not lost her playfulness and lust for life.
The political side of the piece has become more relevant to today; addressing issues such as the Housing crisis, Brexit and the Chilcot Report.

3.       What are your favourite, and least favourite, aspects of the character of Amy?

I think Amy is a character that you not only admire but you can learn a lot from.  If you come to see the show you will see it’s not easy to find fault with Amy.  However if she were my friend I would probably say that sometimes she could be better at setting boundaries and not be so trusting.

4.       What do you think about the sociological idea of ‘double deviance’, that the crimes committed and the mistakes made by women can sometimes involve a greater degree of judgement or speculation from society? Did this idea inform your storytelling at all?

First of all I’ve never heard of this sociological idea so thank you for making me aware of it.   It was exactly why I wanted to write CTRL+ALT+DELETE.  I personally feel there is almost a mother and daughter cult in society which can mean any woman that doesn’t have a ‘perfect’ relationship with their mother can often feel ostracised, blamed or misunderstood.   As Amy says in the play, “Do they attack me because I don’t live up to their Hollywood ideal? Why is empathy such a hard pill to swallow?”  It’s a double edged sword because society doesn’t want to face the truth that not every mother has a close relationship with their daughter.   It’s a subject matter that gets swept under the carpet and as a result, in extreme cases abusive mothers are rarely challenged about their behaviour.

5. What steps do you think governments can make to encourage people to feel protected rather than singled out by law enforcement and those who are meant to protect us from harm?

I’m a great believer in being led by example.   How can we be expected to be law abiding citizens when the government and the police often demonstrate they are above the law?  There is a responsibility to society when you are in a position of power to demonstrate impeccable morals and honesty at all times.   I think the Hillsborough Disaster clearly illustrates the devastating consequences of a group of individuals that were singled out by law enforcement and not protected from harm.

Emma, thank you so much for your interesting answers – I’m really looking forward to seeing the performance!

Ctrl+Alt+Delete will play at the Camden People’s Theatre for six performances from tomorrow (8th, 9th, 12th, 13th, 15th, and 16th). Tickets are available from www.camdenfringe.com or by telephone on 020 7419 4841, and are priced at £7.50.

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