Mark Babych, director of All The Way Home spoke to us about how the play came about and how our collaboration on this piece with The Lowry is working.

Mark, what have been the particular challenges of this script for a director?

A new play is a really exciting thing to be involved in and I am lucky that Ayub has written such a wonderfully rich play. It’s funny and touching and contains some really explosive moments as well as laugh out loud comedy. His writing is so exact and precise that the particular challenge with this text is to keep every beat of the story true to the rhythm of the writer’s intention. In a rehearsal process it is really easy to slip into paraphrasing the words and we have worked really hard at being deadly accurate so that Ayub’s wonderful dialogue is given the respect it deserves.

The play shows a family with a fascinating network of conflicts and resentments, and an underlying residue of pain. It’s also very funny. How do you go about achieving the right balance in the production?

First of all we have to try and understand the play in all its complexity by being utterly forensic in our examination of the text, characters and their situations in the early part of rehearsals. This is utterly necessary to ensure that the foundations of the story and characters are built on solid ground as we gradually find our way through what on the surface can be quite simple but underneath can be complex. Jokes stand alongside jibes and passages of text can swing from belly laughs to moments of uncomfortable silence. As I mentioned earlier, Ayub’s text is extremely precise and adhering to the words and rhythm exactly helps us enormously to play the scenes as he wrote them and not how we interpret them.

The play had a workshop reading at the Lowry last year. What did you learn from that?

Mainly that the play really stood up as a piece of drama and confirmed my utter belief in it. It deserves to be seen by lots of people. We also found that the second half of the story had a beat missing, which is when a new scene was added by Ayub – the Sunday lunch scene which adds a quite a lot of comic relief to the story, important when dealing with a difficult subject like an impending death.

All The Way Home came to life through a new partnership between the Library Theatre Company and The Lowry. How important do you think it is for arts organisations to collaborate to bring projects like this about?

Working in partnership with other artists and organisations is an essential part of how we create theatre now in this country. I think it’s a great thing for companies and artists to be working in collaboration with one another, sharing their skills and resources so that the investment that we make in the art is experienced by as wide ranging an audience as possible. The Library Theatre Company and The Lowry are perfect partners for this play and it is a great example of how two different organisations can come together and unite because they are utterly excited by the play and what it has to say.