Nastazja Domaradzka

An interview with BJ McNeill

Torn Apart After last year’s sold out previews at London’s Theatre N16 and a successful run at this year’s Brighton Fringe, No Offence Theatre returns to Theatre N16 for a 3 week run with their outstanding feminist piece Torn Apart (Dissolution). We talk to BJ McNeill the co- founder of No Offence Theatre and the author and director of Torn Apart (dissolution).

Your company’s production Torn Apart (dissolution) written and directed by you is back at Theatre N16 from 12th until 30th of September, can you tell us more about the premise of the play?

Torn Apart (dissolution) is essentially a love story, which was inspired by real life events. I suppose the main facet of the play is that it’s set in three different times and three different bedrooms. Throughout the duration of the play the audience follows three couples from three different generations. There is Alina, a polish student in West Germany in the 80’s and her lover an American Army Lieutenant, Elliott a young chef and his Aussie girlfriend Casey who live in London at the turn of the century and finally the present day gay couple Holly and Erica.

How do you think Torn Apart (dissolution) can resonate with audiences?

The play deals heavily with the complicated nature of relationships and by doing so explores themes such as female sexuality, male repression, homosexuality and fate. No Offence Theatre strives to create work that questions the status quo and I think this piece concentrates very much on the issues of feminism and the way we as a society perceive women. Having said all of that I also think that everyone can relate to knowing what it feels like to have your heart broken…

What do you want to achieve as a theatre maker?

Ultimately I make theatre to connect with an audience and start a conversation, but in saying that there is a specific way that I want to connect with people that is important to me. For me theatre is about stirring questions and providing a platform for discussion. I want to challenge societal ideals and provoke thoughts. Of course as a society we see theatre as entertainment but for me it also has to have a political or social resonance in our lives that hopefully creates a think tank for people, stimulates thought and evokes change. I also feel strongly about the fact that in the recent years theatre has become extremely elitist. With the average ticket price in the West End being around £30, not many people can afford to see theatre, and this is why fringe is so important these days. As human beings we all connect to art and we all have a poet, performer or director in us somewhere, hence creatives should keep making art to enable the next generation to be able to harness that inner artist. If I can reach one person in an audience of 80 and make them feel less alone in the world or can inspire them to talk about what they’ve just witness then that’s my job done.

What do you feel inspired by as a writer?

I am usually inspired by something true to life that has happened or is happening to a friend or myself and my story will start there. I think growing up being surrounded by a lot of independent and intelligent women really influenced my need for creating realistic roles for women. I am a feminist and whilst I think that there is a lot of roles for women out there in theatre, I do believe that the majority of them are based on stereotypes or that the people casting actors in these roles are succumbing to unrealistic body fascism and gender stereotypes which unfortunately creates an unrealistic and negative projection of women and female actresses. As artists we should do better than that, we should strive to change things not succumb to the status quo.

And finally can you tell us more about your company No Offence Theatre?

No Offence was founded by myself and Nastazja Somers. We are definitely not an everyday combination, an Australian gay boy from Sydney who loves dance, alternative music and physical theatre and a feminist Polish woman obsessed with American literature and classical text. It's interesting to see how although we are literally from two completely different worlds we still come together with a common thread: making compelling theatre for the people and creating diverse work.

Torn Apart (dissolution) is at Theatre n16 12th-30TH of September. For tickets go to :