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The Hoes – Interview with Ifeyinwa Fredrick The Hoes – Interview with Ifeyinwa Fredrick
The Hoes – Interview with Ifeyinwa Fredrick

Ifeyinwa Frederick’s debut play is a riotous celebration of sisterhood, package holiday shenanigans and the curve balls that life can throw. Ebonyonline.net caught up with the budding writer to find out how true to life it all was.

 

EOL:  Welcome to Ebonyonline.net. Tell us briefly about The Hoes and why such a provocative title?

IF: The Hoes is about three young black women on holiday in Ibiza – think fly-on-the wall on a girls’ holiday and you’re almost there. The play touches on many themes but at its heart it’s a joyous story celebration of sisterhood, female sexuality and my Essex roots.

 

I never set out to be provocative when choosing the title though it has been interesting watching people react to it and the assumptions they have made about the play as a result. But ‘hoe’ is a word I use often and in a positive sense to refer to someone taking ownership over their body and boldly pursuing their sexual pleasure, which is something these three women do.

 

EOL:  Why was it important to write a play about sisterhood and female friendship?

IF: I think society places a lot of value on romantic love and romantic relationships and as women we’re encouraged to focus on that which can lead us to overlook the love, or at least, undervalue the love that already exists in our life between us and our friends, particularly our female friends.

 

And I think healthy, close female friendships exemplify what true love is and they set their bar for all relationships. As someone who went to an all-girls’ school, and has two sisters, I’ve always had close female relationships in my life and I love the comfort and safety I find there and honouring and nurturing these friendships is something I’m passionate about.

 

And so when writing The Hoes, I was writing a story to represent my world and sisterhood has been a key part of my life and so it had to be at the centre of the story I was trying to tell.

 

EOL:  You were inspired to write the play because you felt there was only one representation of women and black women in particular, can you expand on this?

IF: It’s more that there’s a reality of women which is absent from media portrayals – women who are sex positive, who have proudly taken ownership of their sexuality and who own all other areas of their lives and don’t attach their value to a partner and aren’t obsessed with finding one.

 

I know a number of these women but rarely see them portrayed. And when it comes to black women, the stories attributed to us are often rooted in our blackness and the associated hardships and traumas that can be experienced as a result of our skin colour.

 

We don’t get to just laugh and love like everyone else. Again, this was something that didn’t fit with my own personal experience. And so I wanted to write a play where the black women are just having fun; where the colour of their skin isn’t an important part of the story – it just so happens that they are black. And in doing so, I wanted to create something that I thought would at least uplift me if I went to see it at the theatre.

 

EOL:  What do you hope people will get out of the play?

IF: I don’t want to place thoughts in people’s heads as such but I would love for people, especially the women in the audience, to come away and feel inspired to take greater ownership over their lives and their bodies, whatever that means for them.

 

I also want people to remember, that whilst the story is fiction, the themes explored are very real. I can’t say too much without giving away what happens but I want people to remember that what is represented on stage is a very real experience for many women.

 

And lastly, I want people to see that you can put three black women on a stage, with a story not centred around race-related hardship and an audience can enjoy it and empathise with these characters that look nothing like them because, at the end of the day we’re all human. And stories are about the things that make us human and those feelings we all feel.

 

EOL:  What themes to you plan to explore in your future projects?

IF: The themes of my next projects aren’t particularly racy – one is exploring mental health and toxic masculinity and another looking at female rage. The themes sound quite heavy written down on a page like that but the aim of the finished project is to feel much lighter.

 

I think humour makes everything easier to swallow and I’m always the person to laugh at the most inappropriate moments so the plan is to play on that.

 

 

EOL:  Why are spaces like Hampstead Downstairs very important for new writers like yourself?

IF: It’s like giving a writer a playground. I’ve had the freedom to shape the play as I’ve wanted whilst having the support to bring it all to life, so I can focus purely on the writing. And it’s been important for me as a writer to go through the whole process of seeing my work staged.

 

Hearing actresses bring it to life, being in rehearsals, working with a director have all helped me become a better writer.  Also, often new or “risky” work are given short runs, so to be given 6 weeks in the downstairs space feels like a vote of confidence for your writing and your voice. And I think every new writer, if not every writer, needs that sort of encouragement.

 

26 Oct-1 Dec, The Hoes, Hampstead Theatre, £5-£14 For tickets and details visit: https://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/whats-on/2018/the-hoes/

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