Writer and actor, Ioana Goga, is soon to have her latest show Love (to) Bits come to London. The piece is dubbed to be a comedic drama, depicting alternative meanings of love in an intriguing format, featuring two intertwined story arcs to make a performance that encourages escapism.
In the following interview with Ioana, find out more about why you should be in the audience.
Please may you discuss Love (to) Bits- can we have a flavour of what to expect?
Yes, sure. The best way I found to describe Love (to) Bits is as Bridget Jones' and Fleabag's love child. I was very happy when I came up with that tag line because I feel it sums it up really well. It's a mix between Bridget Jones' earnestness and Fleabag's self-irony. You can expect loads of laughter, and some tears.
How did the concept for the show come about, and what was the writing process like?
I have always enjoyed romantic comedies as a genre and have loved love on a personal level. So, when I had to write a play for my dissertation project as part of the acting course I did, the answer of what that piece needs to be was very obvious to me. I think the most difficult part was that in the beginning I wanted this show to be everything: I wanted it to have dance in it, spoken word poetry, comedy, drama, everything! Then, I realised that wasn't feasible and I had to strip it down, start from deciding what I want to convey through it and go from there. This decision informed the writing process - I worked backwards, from the conclusion, to figure out what I want the rest to be.
How have you fused relationships and comedy to make your show unique?
I think what makes my show unique is the mix between the very recognisable, specific voice of the main character and her stories, and the universality that the verbatim characters give it through their answers to the question "What is love?". Another thing that makes it special is how relatable it is while being so personal and singular in the love stories it presents.
Are there any elements of yourself in the characters presented?
Oh, definitely! The main character, Cynthia, is largely based on me and stories from my own life. As a fun fact, when I was born, my mum wanted to name me Cynthia. So, she is, basically, my alter ego. The rest of the characters in my story are also based on people in my life, I fully believe in "writing about what you know", so the characters I write are never too far removed from actual people.
What do you intend for the audience to take from the piece, and how do you expect them to be feeling as they leave the theatre?
The main takeaway is: please, please, try to love yourself a bit more, be kinder to yourself, and things will start falling into place. What I want to achieve through everything I create is for the audience to forget about their daily lives for a bit, to let go and step into a different world. I want to give them a space in which, for an hour, they can put the weight of the world down and rest. I want them to leave with a smile on their face, feeling seen and understood - and a little bit better about the world (as one of the reviews I received in the past said, when I read that, I thought to myself: "Mission accomplished!").
How did you discover your passion for playwriting?
I started playwriting out of need. I trained as an actor and I am Eastern European, so I quickly discovered that if I want to be able to play main characters and 'meaty', exciting parts, I will have to write them myself, most times. So, that's what I did. I've also loved writing my whole life, so the transition from poems and stories to plays wasn't very difficult.
Are you able to hint at any other upcoming projects you’re working on?
Well, we really want to do a Romanian tour of Love (to) Bits later this year and if that happens I would be genuinely ecstatic. Other than that, I'd like to also do a longer production for my second play Perfect Timing, but there's nothing definite, yet. I am also currently working on two new plays; they are both two handers and female led. One's about the vital role of female friendships in our development as women - and it's dedicated to my best friend, the other one is the millennial answer to the song One of Us by Joan Osborne.
And lastly, who inspires you and why?
As an artist, my biggest inspiration is Pink. Because she is a 'Boss Queen'! She is a fantastic lyricist, but I feel that because she writes pop music, she is often underrated. And that's what I want to write, I want to create "pop", earnest plays, that make people feel happy and represented. I want slices of life. I don't want the elitist plays, filled with '10-dollar' words. I want people to see my work and go "If that woman with the 'tomboy' walk, short hair and accent can be a main character, then I can, too!". Growing up, that's what Pink did for me.
Thank you very much to Ioana for sharing an insight into her upcoming play at Barons Court Theatre this month. It sounds brilliant and I certainly can't wait to see it myself!
You can get your tickets here too:
Additional thanks to Matthew Parker for arranging this interview.