Charly Clive talks about her new play, 'Camel' / by Declan Maloney Drummond

How did The New Natives form and what’s the company’s mission?

I guess it started the way most conversations between myself and Jill start. I said something like 'I have an idea for a play I want to write and I don't know how to explain it because it's a bit weird so I'm going to talk you through the opening monologue and some of the more bizarre joke set ups and then we can flesh out the ending?' and Jill, true to form, replied 'okay but I'm going to need another coffee'. At drama school we were told over and over again that we should be creating our own work. I've always been writing and Jill has a very good brain for producing so one day while I was talking at the speed of light about some scenes I'd half written and how great Jill would be for the female lead she said 'well let's do it then' and we did it. We founded The New Natives in a coffee shop in midtown and haven't really looked back. We have three shows under our belt so far and some exciting stuff on the horizon. I guess our company mission is to create good, honest, solid theatre that people can afford and enjoy! Honesty is the main thing. I always use the example of our hands; 'to-do' lists written on the palms, fingernails bitten and forever tangled in some sort of complex secret handshake. Those are the hands that build the shows and I think the work we create emulates that. It's passion projects. It's good. It's there for you

What’s Camel about?

Camel is about memory and loss and awkward sex and weed in the suburbs of Virginia. It's a dark comedy centering around an unlikely protagonist, a carpenter, a glamorous pot dealer and A GHOST?! what?! This play sounds amazing.

What has the writing and rehearsal process been like?

The writing process was, typically, quite lonely and pretty much just me at my desk listening to music and eating cereal. It's the first thing I've written in a while that isn't A. a sketch for a comedy show or B. in any way political. In that way it was really fun. I wrote it sort of just for the sake of writing something for myself- kind of like a journal or scrapbook of things that happened and things that sort of should have happened, some of them to me and some of them to people I know and some of them totally made up. I'm half american and a Virginian so I wanted to write for that side of my life. I've never written anything like it, actually because with most of the things I write I'm on a soapbox trying to rally a crowd but with Camel I'm on a beanbag asking if you've heard this joke before. The rehearsal process has been great. The only person we wanted to direct the play was Michael Flynn and we got him (miraculously too because he's the hardest working director this side of the Hudson). He previously directed The First Man which was our inaugural New Native's show (written by Wil Hart) which was a sell out show and artfully directed by him, of course. It's been a pretty short rehearsal process but Michael has a way of getting to the heart of a thing quickly and in a really careful and pragmatic way so no time is wasted and everyone has time to ask questions and explore things. There's always lots of laughter, too and exciting conversation because we have such a fucking hilarious and clever cast. I'm going to really miss it

You’ve also worked in comedy, with your show Britney being a hit in Edinburgh and London. How did that show come about and how do you plan to balance comedy, acting and writing?

The show came about because last Feb I was diagnosed with a large Pituitary Brain Tumor which really put my life into a blender for a little while. My best friend and co-writer of Britney, Ellen Robertson said 'let's write a show about all of this' and I said 'no' but she got her way because I was on a shit ton of morphine at the time. We wrote Britney (the name of my tumor) as a narrative sketch comedy that documented the journey from diagnoses to recovery. We wrote it because Ellen put her life on hold and moved in with me and my parents (I had to go back and live in England while all the brain stuff was going on) and we went through something that most people don't and it was really scary and awful but also very funny and somehow uplifting. You just have to laugh, when you can. When things get too dark to laugh you have to find a way to make a joke. You have to. I don't know an alternative, you just have to find a way to make fun of yourself. So that's what we've been doing now since August, standing up in front of people and laughing at ourselves and my brain tumor and inviting people to laugh as well. And cry too because it's moving af.

As for the second part of the question: I don't really plan to balance anything. I haven't balanced anything so far, I've just got sporadically overwhelmed and muddled through with a sense of humor and a lot of desperate phone calls to my Dad asking for advice and validation. I think that's probably how it goes though, I'd rather be busy and teetering than not busy and firmly on two feet. It's exciting and I hope it keeps going the way it has been. What’s next for The New Natives? With Jill Geurts at the helm, probably world domination. Other than that WATCH THIS SPACE! We have some exciting announcements to come but for now we're all just very excited and proud of Camel. Come see our show!