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Harvey Virdi- interview

Ready to party? Happy Birthday Sunita is back on tour around the UK and ready to celebrate in the family kitchen. With a new cast and script especially for 2023, Harvey Virdi's writing pledges to bring much joy and laughter both to the stage, and to take away with you afterwards.

Telling us more about what to expect, Harvey has kindly answered the following questions.


What inspired you to write Happy Birthday Sunita, and what does a fresh script bring to the 2023 tour?

Writing Happy Birthday Sunita was a chance to explore family dynamics. How not facing and talking about the traumas in our family life often leads to stagnation. But most importantly, how brave do you have to be to follow your own dreams in the face of old family and community values? A fresh script allowed me to revisit the relationships and a chance to explore them further. And also, to be able to make it more current; Brexit, Covid and how maybe people are thinking about what they need…

How was the process of writing the piece, and what do you particularly enjoy about the comedy genre?

The process of writing any piece is long. Working out what the story is about and to create truthful characters is important. The wonderful thing about comedy is that you can actually delve into quite serious issues without being heavy handed. My aim is to make the audience laugh but then to think about the reality of the situation and ask themselves what they really think about it.

Why does family drama appeal to audiences, and how does the Punjabi culture fit with this?

Family drama always appeals to us all, because we all have family! There are loves and rivalries and everything in between. I think it’s not just the Punjabi culture that fits in with this… again we all have family, regardless of our backgrounds…

How have you ensured to touch on a range of emotions throughout the performance, and what will viewers take away from it?

I didn’t really think about the range of emotions I wanted to show, it’s more interesting for me to tell the story of these characters and what they want from life. The emotions come from their needs and fears… as is true for all human beings. I’m hoping the audiences will leave the theatre having laughed out loud, having recognised characters from their own lives and hopefully asking themselves if they’re brave enough to follow their hearts.

How does writing the piece differ from acting, and being in front of the camera for your works on screen?

The similarities between writing and acting are that you’re creating characters and trying to tell their stories. Being in front of camera means another writer has worked really hard, often for years, to bring a character to you. It’s up to me to bring that character to life in front of camera or on stage and do their work justice.

Without too many spoilers, which parts of the script were the easiest and hardest to bring to life?

The easiest thing for me is always to create the characters, who they are, how they talk, what they want etc. The hardest is always making sure the storytelling is clear, so the audience are not left with more questions than they came in with. A confused audience is not good.

What are positives for having this as a touring production, and what considerations must you think of to allow it to work in a variety of venues?

Touring a theatre piece is always great, it gives audiences a chance to go to (and support) their local/regional theatres. More people get a chance to see the show. Not everyone can travel to London and it’s great to be able to take shows to them. And audiences definitely come!

When designing the show, the designer will always make sure the show will work in all the different venues it is touring to. The set has to be the right size to fit into each venue and the lighting designer too has to design the lighting to fit and work in each space.

Then of course, there is an amazing stage management team on tour with the show, to do the get-ins and get-outs at each venue and making sure the show runs as it has been directed.

Who would enjoy this show, and why?

You can have an evening out with your friends or decide to take your family. The show works for everyone. You’ll definitely leave with a smile on your face. And maybe a question or two for yourself.

What is your favourite memory of a birthday you've had?

A favourite birthday memory for me is when my friends organised a surprise birthday party for me. The most amazing day, and I had no idea!!!


Big thanks to Harvey for sharing about her show - it sounds like a piece everyone will be able to enjoy. Have a great remainder of the tour!

Get tickets here:

Additional thanks to Dani Freeman from Colour PR for coordinating this interview.


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