Nwando Ebizie is about to play the alter ego character of Lady Vendredi in the Soho Theatre, London, we caught up with her to ask her what audience members can look forward to and what it's been like rehearsing for such a strong character.
For those who aren't familiar with The Passion of Lady Vendredi, please can you tell us what to expect?
It's going to be a whirlwind of emotions. Imagine descending into a ceremony where the performers will take you on a visceral journey. Full on hypnotic drumming. Intense dancing happening around you. A mythic happening taking place in front of your very eyes. Some people might have heard some of the music from the show played on Gilles Peterson's show on BBC Radio 6 music - so they might get a feel of what the music will sound like. But there'll be some surprises in there too.
What appealed to you most about the alter ego of Lady Vedredi?
She found me. She was a deep need expressed through me. She's a collaboration with my director and she is more than me. Lady Vendredi is an exploration of my ancestry, my cultural legacy and my taboos. She's a dangerous cocktail of energies.
You are a DJ, musician, performance artist and actor so do you prefer any of these disciplines over another?
For me they are all just avenues of expression. Sometimes I love DJ-ing - getting a whole club moving together - bringing them up, bringing them down. Making music can be painful, it feels kind of like 'when it needs to come out, it just has to come out'. In terms of the performative work, it's a real haven - a place to explore every part of myself.
When did you know that your calling in life was in performance?
I actually wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor then I joined the National Youth Theatre as a teenager - that changed everything.
You have performed with Princess Superstar and supported Peaches, Charli XCX and AME, can you tell us about your favourite moments from these experiences?
I love Peaches, so that was amazing. Really what I love best about doing those kind of gigs though is the energy in the room. All those gigs were big gay nights in East London and the way the crowd dressed up and performed their identities was amazing - as a performer it put you to shame!
Lady Vendredi has been described as a 'moment of force', how much do you agree with this statement?
Oh yeah she's full on! Lady Vendredi goes there, so you don't have to! She's a channel of pure elemental energy. Performing her is a constant journey.
The show opens in April, so can you tell us about the rehearsal process?
We have a long process which is about building up a layered performance through psychophysical actor training and performance art exercises. The idea is that if we create a strong enough ritual space then the audience aren't just spectators, they are participants who experience what we are going through.
Why is it important to be rebellious and challenging in live theatre?
I wouldn't know how to do it any other way. I think you just have to make what speaks to you. Not out of choice, but because it's actively painful to make work that doesn't make sense to your soul.
What is next for you?
I'm going to do a collaboration with a neuroscientist, researching a rare neurological condition called Palinopsia. Then probably take a long rest on an island somewhere!
The Passion of Lady Vendredi runs from Tue 12 - Sat 30 Apr at Soho Theatre