Always on the lookout for projects that can shine a light on young female theatrical talent in Luxembourg, Tony Kingston felt fortunate to come across Stephanie Ridings’ The Road To Huntsville. The one-woman show, about a writer who researches women that fall in love with inmates on death row, seemed like the perfect match for the BGT theatre company. “Since it’s such a sort of intimate show, it makes sense to do it in a small venue with limited seating,” explains Ferelith Kingston, who is co-directing the show with her father. “It is just one of those magic moments where it all fell into place.”
The other piece that fell into place was the recruitment of actress Lina Peller, with whom Tony had last worked on two-hander David’s Redhaired Death in September of 2020. When she received the script, Lina was immediately attracted to the play, its subject and the humour Ridings injected into the character. The fact that it was a one-woman show was a bonus. “You don't get this chance very often,” Lina explains. “It’s a really good way for me to prepare for my professional career.”
The play, clocking in at around 70 minutes, is a challenge for an actress who has nobody else to play off. “If I do a scene, I don't get anything back,” Lina says. “So you constantly have to put more into it.”
But together with Ferelith and Tony, she has had fun exploring the character of Steph, the writer who finds herself more and more pulled in the deeper she digs into her subject and who eventually begins corresponding directly with a death row inmate in Texas. “It is fascinating the way that this topic is almost the lens for us to get to meet this really, really interesting person,” says Ferelith, who has spent the past year teaching drama part time after graduating with a degree in musical theatre and is now applying to do a master’s in theatre directing in Dublin.
Putting on a one-woman show is not just a challenge for the actress, however. Ferelith explains that as directors, she and her father have to kind of think “more outside the box about what we can do to make it work for the actor.” But, she says, they were lucky to be able to bounce ideas off each other and Lina, as well as designer Laura Burman.
Laura, who is a few years younger than Ferelith and Lina, brought in plenty of her own fully-formed ideas. “She wasn't intimidated at all. I think she’s definitely done the most research,” says Ferelith. “Sometimes it’s scary,” adds Lina, who is also now applying to audition to do a masters at drama schools in England having just graduated in drama and sociology from university in Munich.
The play itself, however, is not scary even though it deals with a dark subject. “Even though there are times when the weight of it comes through, sometimes the only way to really deal with these things is if you’re also able to laugh,” says Ferelith. “And I think the character really is written to make that balance. She is funny, and she has a lot of fun with the audience.”
Lina agrees and thinks much of her own performance will depend on just how the audience reacts to the play. “I think if the audience is really into it, if they find it funny, then you can sometimes maybe build something, but that's something that has to be seen.”