New play aims to 'articulate how powerful it is when women connect'

Yolanda Ovide and Laoise Sweeney in Persephone

Yolanda Ovide and Laoise Sweeney in Persephone - Credit: Sèverine Howell-Meri

A new play to be staged in the Hoxton Trust Community Garden aims to bring people together after lockdown.

Persephone by Gianna Kiehl is about two strangers encountering grief and the complexity of emotional intimacy.

Kiehl wrote the play while self-isolating, as a way of expressing feelings of loneliness.

She told the Gazette: “Everyone has experienced loss and loneliness, and during isolation, we had to face ourselves. That's not always comfortable.

“I went through a hard place because I was trying to figure out what I wanted professionally. That's when I decided I'm going to do my own play."


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On the inspiration behind the two main characters, played by Yolanda Ovide and Laoise Sweeney, Kiehl said: “I've always been inspired by the relationships between women. I tried to articulate how powerful it is when women connect and look out for each other.”

Kiehl chose the venue due to the connection she felt to the area.

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“It was a no-brainer for me, I was living on Hoxton Street for a while," she said. 

"I love Hoxton and the garden is a really communal space, and it's so well cared for by the trust. I think it's the heart of the street. I grew up in Vermont in a close-knit community, so I crave community wherever I go.”

She chose the venue before writing Persephone, and said: “I knew I would never write a play if I didn’t book a venue first. I got everyone involved before I even started writing the play. It was difficult to convince people that they should be involved as I had nothing to show for it at that point, but I knew that I needed that pressure.”

Although Kiehl has directed before, she was nervous about writing her own play.

“To me, writing is a very scary thing because language is so revealing," she said. "It's much harder for me to share my own words, compared to being an actor which is about other people's ideas.”

Persephone, produced in collaboration with Ferodo Bridges, with the support of Hoxton Hall Theatre and Hoxton Trust, will be performed in the Hoxton Trust Community Garden from May 20 to June 13. Visit www.hoxtonhall.co.uk for tickets.

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