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Jaz Hutchins: ‘Immersive Brexit play aims to show the human effect of politics’

Jaz Hutchins Jaz Hutchins
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Currently touring with What Once Was Ours, the actor talks to Roda Musa about political theatre and the struggle of proving yourself as an actor…

How did you get into acting?

I started working in IT recruitment and realised it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing, but had no clue what to do instead. I was involved in young theatre companies and just loved performing and working with creative people. I went travelling around Asia – a very common thing to do, I suppose – and then I told my friends and family about wanting to be an actor. They were all really shocked.

Tell me about What Once Was Ours.

It’s a co-production between Zest Theatre and Half Moon, which started with research they did about a year ago into the effects of Brexit around the country. They visited two areas that voted Leave and two areas that voted Remain and interviewed young people about their experiences. The words of the people interviewed are used in the play, which helps to tell the story. Brexit is a huge issue to tackle, but the play narrows it down to one family and how politics affects relationships. The story explores the differences of two half-siblings and their interactions.

The things they were saying were not coming from a place of hatred but they had genuine fears that had been hammered into them

Is politics important to theatre?

It’s what theatre is all about: to tell relevant stories and make people feel. People can sometimes learn about politics but not realise its human effect. When you’re doing an immersive show and the audience is there with you, it’s great to take them on the journey with you. In Boston [in Lincolnshire] we met some of the voices in the play. Being black and going to an area that has been described as Britain’s Brexit capital, I felt like it was going to be a nightmare. But instead they were all really welcoming. I realised the things they were saying were not coming from a place of hatred but they had genuine fears that had been hammered into them from several sources.

Do you prefer performing in interactive theatre?

I really enjoy it. You work with different energies on different productions, but with interactive performances the audience has such an impact on how the show turns out. The energy from them is infectious and really drives the performance along.

What struggles have you faced in your career?

As an actor, you are constantly fighting against social expectations, and especially coming from my background and not being surrounded by people in theatre, it is very challenging to decide to pursue it as a career. When I introduced myself as being an actor I couldn’t help but mention that I used to work in IT recruitment and almost validate myself in that way as having had a ‘proper job’. You’re doing something that in some cases people can’t see or relate to and you are fuelled by nothing but faith and sheer belief. You’re always fighting to be better and learning how to express yourself more clearly. It feels like an intangible thing you’re chasing that you may or may not get to.

CV: Jaz Hutchins

Training: Identity School of Acting (2014-2016)
First professional role: Jeopardy, Stockwell Playhouse, 2013
Agent: Taylored Management/Soundcheck Agency

What Once Was Ours is touring until November 24

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