As We Face The Sun
by Kit Withington
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Cast: Flexible (4-50 performers, any gender)
Performance fee: £70 per performance (plus VAT where applicable)
A stark and tender story about growing up, the pleasures of friendship, why we hold onto things and how we might start to let go.
A group of classmates, determined to remember their lost friend, commit to throwing an annual party in her honour. It’s what she would have wanted. And year after year, they stick to the tradition.
Now they’re in their twenties, and another party is about to start. The cake has arrived safely, the buffet is all set, and the aux cable is finally working – but something just doesn’t feel right…
As We Face the Sun was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, in a production by the Bush Young Company.
Content guidance: This play contains strong language and exploration of adult themes including death and depression.
About the author
Kit Withington is a playwright from Manchester. Her debut play The View From Down Here was on at Ovalhouse in 2015. Kit was a member of the Soho Theatre Writers’ Lab in 2018 and her play Scrap was shortlisted for the Tony Craze Award. Kit has been part of the Emerging Writers’ Group at the Bush Theatre as well as being part of both an Intro group and an invitational group at the Royal Court. In 2021 she wrote Our Moon Under Water for The Living Newspaper at the Royal Court. In 2023 Kit’s play As We Face the Sun was commissioned by the Bush for their 18-25 young company.
Interview with Kit Withington
As We Face the Sun explores the ways that the bonds we share as teenagers can change as we grow up. What drew you to this?
I think that our friendships and bonds (or lack of them) are everything when we are teenagers. It’s so special to be able to find people who you have a connection with at that point when you’re discovering who you are as a teenager. I still have lots of friends who I was friends with at school but there’s also loads of people who I don’t see anymore too. Friendships naturally shift all the time and even though we might not have all the people from our past in our lives any more with things like social media we’re still able to see what they look like now, know where they’re working, and find out how they spend their weekends. It means that it’s quite easy to be pulled back into situations that might have once trickled away naturally. I liked the idea of looking into the impact of that ‘pulling back’ and how it might affect people differently. I was also conscious that the group I was writing for were about to come to the end of their two years together as a theatre collective so I thought that some of these ideas about changes and moving on might feel relevant and interesting for them to explore.
The characters in the play are all experiencing bereavement at a young age. How did you find exploring this complex issue with young performers?
One of the reasons that I wanted to write about grief is because it can be seen as a ‘grown up’ issue but it’s something that we can face at any time. No matter how old or young we are when we’re confronted with it, we are forced to find ways to cope with it. I knew that there was trust established within the group I was writing for because they’d been working together for a while so it felt safe to explore these difficult subjects with them. I think the group approached the play with such sensitivity, openness and crucially, a sense of fun which made it a really special experience.
The play is written as unassigned dialogue, which can be divided up amongst different groups in an endless variety of ways. Why did you choose this form to tell this story?
This was something that I decided very early on in the process. Practically, writing the play in this way made it so much easier to write for a large number of performers and I knew that this form would offer flexibility when the cast size could change until quite late on in the process. I also wanted to write something that would leave lots of space for the company to discover their own meanings in the narrative and I knew that leaving the dialogue unassigned would offer them an exciting creative challenge. It meant that the cast were given lots of room to develop their own characters to fit into the story. As a writer, it was so much fun seeing the new threads that they unearthed from the script. I think it means that the play can never be told in the same way and that any company who tells this story can really take ownership over it.
Do you have any advice for actors performing the play, or for directors staging it?
Be bold and playful in the dividing of the lines, find the laughs and rattle through it!