I was first approached with this story several years ago and felt so called to it, and also very scared of it. I didn’t feel ready for this piece. It’s depth, and truth, and the questions it arose in me. Years later, I know the time is now.
This is a story of a young aspiring actress wanting desperately to claim her power, her voice and her desires in a world where she feels trapped and alone. In seeking a deeper activation in her life she unlocks doors she did not know were inside of her and begins to question her very reality.
This is a story of the mind, the heart, the psyche, the body and where they intersect in the plain of reality. It asks us to consider: am I what I think I am, or am I something more? And in the dangerous question of something more, who am I?
I feel so passionately excited to tell this story.
I am so grateful to work with this genius script written by Robert Samuelson, and the brilliant directorial mind of Dana Schoenfeld.
Put on your seatbelt. It is going to be a memorable ride.
Many thanks, and much love,
Words from Robert Samuelson, writer of Cayenne Pepper……
Being able to reflect the world that I see and feel, without constraint or control, is to me the definition of true freedom. Our lives are complex and nuanced. Little is clear and obvious; much is open to debate and interpretation. We come together and float apart and dodge and weave our existences both in and against our societal norms and constraints. We are flawed and difficult and inconsistent, and yet equally have a phenomenal capacity for greatness, for beauty and love and progress.
I have always been interested in reflecting that world, that reality, in my writing. I search for stories that shed light on our duality, on our contradictions, with intriguing, complicated characters to help illuminate that truth. Yet recently I have struggled to find new ways of illustrating this. I grew tired of easy, predictable, lowest-common-denominator tales with obvious characters living and dying inside regimented structures that shed little or no light on our real hopes and fears, our secrets and lies, our hopes and dreams, and the impossibility of fulfilling and achieving them all of the time.
As a writer, character is key. No story can accurately and justly portray real life and simultaneously entertain a captive audience without engaging characters who we can root for or fall for or rally against. With that in mind, Cayenne Pepper started out as an opportunity to write freely – liberally – about a dangerous, seductive and flawed protagonist and yet over time, with the inspiring involvement of other collaborative artists and partners, the project developed and transformed into the short story we have today: a detailed and, at times, harsh look at our inner-most thoughts and desires, how the conscious and the subconscious merge and mutate while life, with all its busy highs and lows and successes and failures, bounces and echoes around us. Cayenne Pepper is, then, very deliberately a story about longing and loneliness, about sex and seduction, about the past and the present, and how each of these issues – issues we all know about even if we are loathe to admit it – interplay within the fabric of our lives.
In the modern world, smaller and faster than it ever has been at any other point in human history, it is easy to get lost amidst the white noise of technology, traffic and the teeming tides of people on our streets and on our minds and on our computers. Cayenne Pepper acknowledges this via the character of fragile, vulnerable Claudia Curtis and the two contrasting men – one stable and conservative, the other damaged and wild – that she is simultaneously drawn to and repelled by. Via my script, I wanted to present to our audience a strong, female lead role with specific and difficult social and psychological problems, and then pitch that into a mundane reality that we can all recognise: coming home after a long day at work, tidying up after ourselves and cooking the evening meal, all while our memories wreak havoc across our thoughts and actions.
On a personal level, Cayenne Pepper is more than just a vehicle for talented actors to sink their teeth into. As early drafts turned into later polishes, the project became a statement of the sort of writer I would like to be as my career develops: bold and provocative, challenging my actors; intelligent and reflective, challenging my audiences; liberated and mature, challenging myself. I know I have much to learn as a young writer in a tough and sometimes unforgiving industry, but I hope this project, with its accompanying script, cast and crew, helps justify that ambition and that you enjoy watching what we have put together.