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Tell_Us_In_10_Public Domain

Tell Us In 10: Francesca Forristal & Jordan Paul Clarke

Hira Desai

By Hira Desai First Published 10 May 2021, Last Updated 10 May 2021

In our profile series, Tell Us In 10, we ask cast members and creatives of top London shows to tell us all about themselves in just 10 questions.

Today, we’re talking to Francesca Forristal and Jordan Paul Clarke, writers and stars of Public Domain, a new dark, funny British musical all about the internet.

Following an acclaimed digital debut at Southwark Playhouse, Public Domain will be opening at the Vaudeville Theatre from 17 May and follows the story of two teenage influencers; Millie (sporty spice, health guru, buddha bowls – millennial) and Z (GCSEs existential dread, swag – generation Z).

This high-adrenaline, electronic thrill ride is made entirely from the real-life words of YouTube vloggers, Instagram influencers, Facebook’s tech giants, and everyday internet users. It’s like ‘Black Mirror’ but real, and set to music.

Take a seat as we go behind the curtain to find out more about the talented duo behind this exiting new show…

 

1. My route into theatre was…

Francesca: Through drag, actually! I finished my English degree, left uni, and moved to London in 2019 to become a glittery Drag King who improvised a musical theatre show (at Dragprov) with another Drag Queen. One day in Edinburgh, The LOL Word were like ‘Hey, do you do standup?’ (I didn’t, but deffo wasn’t gonna turn them down, so…) I rather nervously wrote a set for their show; the same set which I ended up expanding into a one-woman show, which Jordan Clarke (my co-writer for Musical Theatre things) did the sound design for. We went on to write a show together, which got me a stage/screenwriting agent… Now it’s my full time job, I’m writing LOADS, and I bloomin’ love it.

Jordan: Hands down, am-dram in my home-town. Watching friends in the musicals and being creative simply rocked, and I was like “yup, gotta do that”. Then I went to music college in London and balanced that with as much theatre as I could get my hands on!

 

2. My West End idol is…

Francesca: Lea Salonga. She is the reason I sing Musical Theatre. When I was younger, I became utterly obsessed with watching this 18 year old sight reading Sun and Moon from Miss Saigon… I used to practice singing it – all stilted and tentative – acting out her audition moment over and over again. I watched every interview. Every bootleg. Everything. Her ATS is just… Iconic. And she will always be an inspiration to me.

Jordan: Well, this changes twice on a daily basis because – c’mon, there are so many inspirational artists working all the time! Right this second? I’m gonna say John Elliot, who is an incredible composer and performing in Cruise at the Duchess Theatre. He’s a stellar fella.

(Photo credit: Michael Wharley)

3. My colleagues would describe me as…

Francesca: My drag-partner said “a bundle of enthusiasm in doc martens, with excitingly erratic spatial and emotional awareness.” Also “dresses like all of the seven dwarves at the same time.” My director used to call me ‘Lizard person…’ I think in general, people are like ‘damn this person is a bit blunt/scary’ when they first meet me because I have zero brain to mouth filter, but then very quickly find I’m a very excitable lil’ puddle of glitter.

Jordan: Hungry.

 

4. My favourite show present or past (that isn’t one I star in/work on) is…

Francesca: Fun Home, I think, because it’s such a brilliant example of how musical theatre as a *medium* can tell a story more truthfully – be more of an ’emotional autobiography’ – than the events themselves ever could. The musical motifs that echo through the father-daughter relationship, the burgeoning new romances, the present Alison’s perception of the past… they stick these palimpsests of memory together in a redemptive way – ‘a rare moment of perfect balance, when I soared above him’ – despite the undoubtedly tragic story beats. CONTENT in harmony with FORM. Ugh. Love it.

Jordan: … how am I supposed to pick a FAVORITE? Changes thrice daily, but right now I am obsessed with Heathers (a pretty permanent state of being, actually) and cannot wait for that to be back in town. What a show.

 

5. The career moment I’m most proud of is…

Francesca: Seeing Charlotte Vaughan (in P.S I’m A Terrible Person) bring an entire room to floods of tears / help them connect with a character that I INVENTED AND MADE UP, with WORDS I MADE UP (with co-writer Jordan Clarke, of course) through her own characterisation, mannerisms, and heart. That moment of fusion between a piece of writing, a song, and a very talented performer is electric. I will continue to pursue that magic feeling of synergy between the work, the talent, and the audience in everything I make.

Jordan: For me, probably the first improvised show I ever played for. Terrifying, exhilarating, and such an awesome experience.

 

6. The hardest part about my role is…

Francesca: Definitely that eggy stage in the writing process in-between the ‘omg this idea in my head is GENIUS, I LOVE IT, I MUST WRITE IT’ to ‘oh no, will this ever be any good? Maybe I should throw it in a bin and become an accountant instead.’ It’s incredibly hard to push through that period where it just… isn’t good yet. It’s fine, but the threads don’t weave nicely; a character reads thin/2D; there’s some dialogue that is a bit hack or a joke that doesn’t work. It’s hard to come to the desk, every day, and try to make it better. You need that relentless, radical self-belief – To abandon perfectionism or ego, and just keep writing.

Jordan: Balancing priorities! That’s a hard part of life though, ain’t it? I get pulled towards lots of creative people and projects and making sure I balance my time right is definitely the thing I have to check in on most.

 

7. If I wasn’t a writer/performer/composer I would be…

Francesca: If I wasn’t a writer/performer, I would be an academic. One of those historians that makes podcasts on 16th Century Courtly Poetry for 3 avid listeners, and grows a long white beard, and writes fan fiction about Byron and Shelley throwing aside their differences and having lots of feelsy gay romance… *Sighs Wistfully* …. (having said that, it appears I have accidentally said I’d be a writer again, but a slightly different one, which I find deeply amusing. I guess I just really do like writing quite a lot).

Jordan: If I wasn’t a Composer, I would be a chef. Perhaps a baker?

 

8. Something people don’t know about me is…

Francesca: I can darn socks. Like, I’m genuinely very good at darning socks.

Jordan: That I wish I read more, and am well embarrassed by how slowly I read through books.

 

9. The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is…

Francesca: ‘Ships are safest in the harbour, but that’s not what they’re built for.’ Every time I feel that creeping hesitation, or insecurity, or worry about asking for something, I always think about this quote. All the best career things have come from me literally putting myself out there and being like I THINK I’D BE GOOD, GOWON, WHY NOT HIRE ME? And cringing as I wait for the possibility that it all might go horribly wrong. But it’s what life’s about, I guess. Not just… sitting in the harbour, waiting for adventure to find you.

Jordan: Do the work. Make the work. Carve out the time to make the thing you need to make, and everything else will follow! That’s stayed with me.

 

10. The one thing I wish I could tell my younger self is…

Francesca: That not everything is your responsibility. Accept what you can’t control. Chaos and ‘not knowing’ can be fun too.

Jordan: Get into running, Jord. Be well into running by the time you’re 14 or you’ll never manage it and spend weekends flapping around a park.

 

If you’d like to get the lowdown on all things Public Domain or you’d like to find about more about Francesca and Jordan, tune into Theatre Chat Live on Tuesday 11 May at 6pm on Official London Theatre’s Instagram channel when we will be joined by the brilliant duo!

 

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Francesca Forristal Jordan Paul Clarke public domain vaudeville theatre

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