News: Interview with Dominic Garfield

HighRise Theatre will blend grime with theatre later this month for a one-night-only livestream of Dominic Garfield’s acclaimed production Lil.Miss.Lady. I caught up with Dominic, artistic director of HighRise Theatre to find out more about this production, which explores the history and music of Britain’s biggest sub-culture, grime.

How did you get into theatre?
School was a challenge for me. I got kicked out before my GCSEs but acting up in class transferred easily to the stage. I remember I was allowed out of a prolonged isolation period in year 9 to be in the Shakespeare show at school. Apart from the time away from the punishment, teachers that used to point me out for negatives would stop and talk to me about the show and my performance. I’ve always seen theatre as a hack to be a clown in real life and be respected for it.

Can you tell me about HighRise Theatre and Lil.Miss.Lady?
HighRise is a theatre company that represents Guyana, Israel, Uganda & Jamaica but is quintessentially British; making work that engages and inspires young-inner city people and adults through sub-culture driven theatre. Basically, HighRise blends drama with Grime, Hip Hop and spoken word to create dope as fu*k experiences.

Lil.Miss.Lady is an immersive grime rave that follows a young woman’s battle, trying to make it in the Grime scene as an MC. Despite her talent and ferocious drive, she is unable to make ends meet, facing personal challenges whilst being taken in by the UK as their hottest young star. The show is a celebration of grime music and its women, whilst holding a microscope up to its frailties.

How did the idea for the production come about? 
I have been involved in the grime scene since 2002, as an MC and rave promoter. This has given me a unique insight into the industry, but more importantly an understanding of the culture and the music.

I wanted to talk about women in grime as they were somewhat of an enigma in the game growing up. Sure, you had your main players like Ms Dynamite, Lisa Mafia and Stush who were always some of the most lethal on mic growing up, but the prominence of female rappers was few and far between. I wanted to work with some of my favourite female MC’s to tell their story in a way I knew we could at HighRise – with authenticity, care and a whole lot of knowledge of how to put on the sickest shows!

What can audiences expect?
This is a new way of working for HighRise. We will be broadcasting a live warm up set from a secret venue in North West London with a mix from the master of jump up grime DJ Kaylee Kay with HighRise MC’s hosting.

We will then introduce the show and flip back to the studio for an interval and a post-show rave up.

It’s going to be fun, I can tell you that for free.

How did you go about revitalising the production for online audiences?
We didn’t want to just throw a stream online to watch the show on YouTube. Because of the immersive nature of the show we knew we needed to keep an online version as interactive as possible. This is where a fully live interactive set comes into play. The audience will be able to interact with characters and the performers in a way I haven’t seen in online theatre shows so far through the pandemic. We do things big and bad so watch this space…

What have you missed about live theatre?
People. I miss people and community. I miss being able to share a microphone without having to anti bac it.

What would you like Lil.Miss.Lady to achieve?
A good fun time and interactive rave for your living room.

Lil.Miss.Lady will run online on Friday 23 October, 8pm.

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