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Siobhan Athwal in Wasted the Musical Southwark Playhouse

Siobhan Athwal on Telling the Bold True Story of the Brontë Sisters in Rock Musical Wasted

Hitting the Southwark Playhouse this September is the new rock musical Wasted, that tells the true story of the Brontë sisters like you’ve never seen them before.

“It is a rock documentary and all-access account of their triumph and heartbreak, celebrating the Brontë sister’s lives and putting them on the map,” Siobhan Athwal told me, who is taking on the role of Emily Brontë. “It allows you to see all of them in depth, we have done a lot of research in this account of their lives so you really see their successes, turmoil and heartache.”

Emily Brontë is an intriguing person, a piece in the Telegraph on the Brontë’s described her as a “virtual mystic, gifting the world one extraordinary novel and then vanishing back into the ether from which she came.” Siobhan really found this interesting and wanted to bring that to life through her portrayal.

“I found that there are so many different variations of her, so there’s very little information,” she said. “Not a lot of emotional truths survived after the death of Emily and I found a lot of information that was biased. I felt it was important to not base Emily solely on people’s opinions and it was important to look at her real life work with an uninhibited mind and pay attention to the emotions it served within me.”

Coincidentally Siobhan previously starred in the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s production of Wuthering Heights, which was her first proper introduction to Emily Brontë. “I am a huge fan of that book,” Siobhan exclaimed. “I found it explored the complexity of humanity, it is curious about the extremities of human emotion and our relationships, and it was definitely fearless in its delivery of it.” Siobhan really captures in the show the fact that Emily really came into her own when she was in her own headspace, because that is where she felt safe.

Siobhan wanted her take on Emily to feel genuine, so she put a lot of research into her quotes. One that really stuck with Siobhan is “I’m now quite cured of seeking pleasure in society, be it country or town. A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself.” This resonated with Siobhan as she found her views on life and mankind are exactly like Emily’s were.

“I was a bit scared at first as I really thought we were the same person,” Siobhan laughed. “But that is nothing to be ashamed of. Because I understand her perception, I am able to unlock that headspace which in turn takes me a step closer into honouring her. We often forget, and we shouldn’t, that these were real people and the effect that they had was astounding.”

As well as exploring the inside of the sister’s minds as they grew up, it is also about their family dynamic. “It shows how they affected one another, no matter how different they were, they still had the family unit at their core and you get to see that throughout this show which I think is really beautiful,” Siobhan said.

   

Siobhan Athwal in rehearsals for Wasted the Musical at the Southwark Playhouse. Credit: Oli Sones
Siobhan Athwal in rehearsals for Wasted at the Southwark Playhouse. Credit: Oli Sones

   

With musical theatre evolving every day, especially with shows in the West End like SIX, Hamilton and Sylvia, this new musical brings a completely new sound to the mix. “Chris Ash and Carl Miller who wrote the music and lyrics are insane,” Siobhan said. “It’s rocky, there’s even a bit of opera in there, it’s a really new sound and it’s everything we tend to be seeking in life at the moment.”

This part came at the right time in Siobhan’s life and she really emphasised how passionate she is about this role. “I loved the parts I’ve done before, but I wanted to start doing me, and that’s okay because it’s in line with Emily’s headspace. She really didn’t care what anyone else thought, and why should she? Life is hard enough so it is really nice that it’s come at the right time in order for me to celebrate that,” Siobhan explained.”

 

“I am tired of fitting into other people’s boxes, I am my own box and I am going to show you what that is.”

 

The Brontë’s are a part of history that shaped the world we live in today and Siobhan is passionate about these women’s stories being told. “This show celebrates everyone that’s different because these sisters were essentially misfits and look at the effect they had on future generations to come,” she said. “That is so important to celebrate, in every generation of life there is always going to be someone different and that’s okay, that’s how we evolve.”

Wasted is on at the Southwark Playhouse until the 6th of October.

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