An Interview with Pip about The Eye of The Hare

Tobacco Factory Theatres interviewed Pip about the The Eye of The Hare and its influences.

The Eye of The Hare is described as an autobiographical piece that explores the threads of continuity in your family – could you expand on this a little?

My Dad has been a great influence on me. He was a landscape painter.  In the piece I talk about his process - the making of a painting – and look at his sketchbooks as a way of working towards a final landscape. I talk about my interest in process with my own work as a film editor, influenced by him.

Also, the whole piece has me at the centre, with my parents, my wife Ali, and our children, Lucy, Jack and Barney, as close participants in the on-going story of our family life. I value that sense of continuity. It makes it easier to deal with the shortness of a single life.

Stand + Stare is a bit of a family affair itself isn’t it? (Stand + Stare is run by Pip’s son and daughter, Barney and Lucy Heywood.)  How has working with your son and daughter informed the piece itself?

As well as editing, I’ve always been writing, and over the last few years I’ve written a lot about myself and those around me.  I was going round in circles with the writing, when Lucy and Barney read it and persuaded me to bring extracts to the stage. This is a great boost to the writing project.

Lucy and Barney have brought a strong critical awareness to the piece, as directors of the show. They have been able to see it objectively, despite their own involvement.

You have worked as a documentary film maker for over 30 years. What moments from your career stand out?

Editing a trilogy of films about Tibetan Buddhism, which made me realize that film can create a powerful sense of contemplative space. Working with Alan Bennett and David Attenborough, both very different but master story-tellers.  Also, making my film The Walk – a wordless look at time – parts of which are woven into The Eye of The Hare.

How is your craft as a film maker incorporated into The Eye of The Hare?

I’m on stage with a pic-sync, a 16mm editing machine I used before the digital revolution.  In a sense, I wind through the story of my life, using this machine. The writing project and the stage project are both very influenced by storytelling techniques used in documentaries – in particular, breaking the chronology, so that different episodes in my life are juxtaposed: the two-year-old who burns his hands, and the man in his fifties, still assimilating the consequences.

What would you say is the main thing you want audiences to take away with them from the performance?

Bringing my written thoughts to a public place, I was concerned that my personal world would appear as introspective. My hope is that by looking quite deeply at my own experience, other people will be able to relate to it in their own ways. Also, because this all sounds a bit too serious, I hope that people will detect my underlying sense of humour!

The Eye of the Hare is at Tobacco Factory Theatres from Tue 26 - Sat 30 November. For more information, click here.