An Interview with Actor, Gabriel Paul and Director, Amanda Huxtable on ‘Everything I Own’
In conversation with Gabriel Paul and Amanda Huxtable ahead of the world premiere of Everything I Own, opening Thursday 17th June at Hull Truck Theatre
What’s the show about?
Gabriel: This show is about a man called Errol, who has just recently lost his dad to COVID. Now, Errol’s just sorting through his dad’s possessions, and he’s reflecting on his time as a young Black man, and as an older Black man. It’s also about the relationship between Errol and his son, which has got a little bit fractured at this point as well, so he’s resolving a lot of issues throughout this play.
Who is this play for?
Amanda: This show is for everyone who’s missed theatre and storytelling. Personally, for me, this show is for my mum and dad, you know, they get a chance to stream in from Jamaica, and really kind of see the work. But it’s for all of us who have lost, you know, this last year or so, and want to come together and reflect on that, and the joy of having had those people in our lives.
How excited are you to be performing in front of real, live audience members again?
Gabriel: I’m very, very excited! It’s been a long fifteen months – however long we’ve been in lockdown! And theatre’s all about the audience, well it’s not just that, it’s about me as well – but, apart from me…! Yeah, it’s about – jokes, sorry! It’s about sharing. Theatre’s about sharing. It needs to be shown to an audience, you know, it’s all about telling stories, and we need the audience here as well, so, I cannot wait to just get in front of an audience and share what we’ve been working so hard on.
“The detail makes the difference”
What can people expect to feel?
Amanda: It’s deep. Daniel Ward has given us something to think about and feel. So, you know, there are absolutely spaces there for belly laughs, but you know, I have cried more than once in rehearsals.
How has this rehearsal process differed from previous shows you’ve worked on, and how do you think it has shaped the outcome of it?
Amanda: The process has differed immensely, you know, we’ve gone through Covid, and we’ve come back in to the space extra careful, making sure that; we are keeping space, that people are taking responsibility for themselves, even more than they did before. But I think the biggest difference for me is returning to the space with other cast members from my own cultural heritage, and so having a black writer, a black cast member, a black assistant director as well as myself and joined by our esteemed stage manager from Hull has been an extraordinary experience. The detail makes the difference, the patterns, the understanding, the storytelling in a different way and one that I hope to build from here, because that’s why I came as a Change Maker three years ago, to build.
Gabriel: Ok, so for me, this is the first time that I’ve worked on a one man show so a lot of the focus has been all on me. So, this has been a big change for me but working with Amanda and everybody in the room – Jay and Reaya – everybody, it’s been fantastic and I think what the rehearsal process is going to give to the performance is a specificity. Y’know, the detail, I think that’s what it is because we’ve been able to deep dive so far down into the script and really unearth what Daniel’s trying to get across. I think that’s the major thing that will influence the performance.
If you could sum up this show in three words, what would they be?
Amanda: I’ve thought about these three words really… I think it’s spirit, family and healing.
Gabriel: (To Amanda) Nice, I like those words. Can I take those words? I want them words. So the three words that I would use to sum up this production would be relevant, universal and uplifting.
“A place of warmth”
What is your favourite song from the show and what impact does the soundtrack have on the performance?
Amanda: My favourite song from the show… There are so many favourite songs, it’s hard to choose, it’s like a DJ picking a track, but the one I love is ‘Love Has Found a Way’ by Dennis Brown, it’s just a smooth and gorgeous moment.
Gabriel: Yeah, I’ll agree with Amanda, it’s an amazing soundtrack – which should get released – which we should try and merchandise (laughs). So my favourite track, which is so hard to choose, the one I like is by Sister Nancy, ‘Bam Bam’, which is just a great tune, so listen out for that.
This show is part of Homecomings Season. Welcoming audiences back to Hull Truck Theatre. What does Homecoming mean to you?
Gabriel: So, homecoming to me, means returning to a place of warmth, of safety, of laughter. Everything you feel when you are coming back home. You know, to your family and I really do think that Hull Truck have made it very safe and very warm. I do feel that like I’m ensconced in a family while I’m here, which is why it’s really nice to be a part of this company.
Amanda: Homecoming is a really complicated thing. There are some of us who have never had the opportunity to “go home”, so that’s the theatre goers who will have never been to theatre, but I think this opportunity of homecoming for those of us who are used to being here, welcome, and being safe is absolutely right. There is also a chance for people who have never had a chance to try it and make it home.
Hull Truck Theatre present the world premiere production of Everything I Own, 17 – 26 June