With some surplus drama, How To Drop A Piano is an unexpected weekend of revelations, desperations and reparations
BY SAMANTHA GRIERSON, IMAGE BY SAMANTHA GRIERSON
I first met Mabz Beet three months ago on Facebook, having dropped me a line after listening to my trilogy of LGBTQI+ audio plays about later life Autism and ADHD diagnoses. We agreed to a Zoom chat and within minutes I was captivated by this softly spoken, polite actor who was determined to make it work in the neurotypically dominated acting world. Both being from Yorkshire, LGBTQI+ and autistic, it was an instant bond. Who knows how human connections work, but I was hooked.
An hour later I went for a swim and I thought to myself, “I want to write her a play. I want to create a crazy chaotic world to swirl around this character and I want the fact that they are Trans and Autistic to be irrelevant to the plot”.
As Ryver Cooper themselves says in the play: “I get type cast and given terribly cliched roles… If I get offered one more Trans Zombie apocalypse…”. I wanted Mabz’s character to transcend her personal traits, possibly feeling confined myself at times by my own labels. So, I created a riotous comedy with Mabz playing Ryver Cooper the lead, supported by Jane Asher and Lesley Joseph.
When I told Mabz that I had cast Jane Asher as Margaret, she laughed and said “she’s already my boss!”, referring to the fact that Jane is the President of the National Autistic Society and Mabz has a job working as a support worker for the same organisation. Mabz spoke about her experience being more local, as Jazz in “The Mighty Atoms” at the Bradford Playhouse, and as a regular voice actor for the horror anthology series Quietly Yours and Transmission, an audio play. For her, How to Drop a Piano was an opportunity to really showcase her talents to a wider audience: “This play was such an amazing opportunity for me to really prove to myself and others that acting is something that I am passionate about and that there are autistic people out there who are talented and capable of delivering good performances. I’m so grateful for being a part of this play”.
How to Drop a Piano follows Ryver Cooper (Mabz Beet), who needs a break at work and in life and in order to learn their lines for the lead role in a new but dismal play. They book into a B&B in a quiet leafy backwater in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Margaret Grainger (Jane Asher), who owns the establishment, is desperately trying to keep the mansion roof over her head. Finding innovative ways to pay the bills, her lodger Libby Lentil provides some of this much-needed cash. With some surplus drama, it’s an unexpected weekend of revelations, desperations and reparations, all whilst they learn the fine art of how to drop a piano. Tackling themes of love, loss and living an authentic life, How to Drop a Piano is available for listening now.
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