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In conversation: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour

A week before the debut of Love Steps, The Floor Mag caught up with poet, director and writer Anastasia Osei-Kuffour to discuss all things love, how our personal journeys feed into our creative processes and early 00s dance films. 

How was Love Steps born?

Love Steps has been in the works for a while. It's been adapted from a series of poems that I wrote at different stages of my own love journey. I kind of looked back over my collection of poetry and thought, “Okay, so like, what is this love journey?” There have been ups and downs and things that I've learned along the way. I just felt like this could be a compelling story.

How was the process of adapting your poetry to be ready for the stage?

It's been pretty easy in the sense that I come from a poetry background. That's my natural way of writing and I always knew I wanted to write something that wasn't naturalistic, but stylised in the poetic realm. 

Yes, it did feel very challenging to create because it's not trying to become like a conventional play, but also, I'm still in the process of working on the script with the actors and the team. So it's an ongoing process that is enjoyable and has its challenges as well, because it's very new and I’m trying to get that right. 

Sharon Rose and Reece Richards | Credit: Steve Gregson

What has it been like for you, being in the rehearsal room as a director?

It's been a real joy. 

I've spent over 12 years directing other people's writing, and I love doing that, and I will continue doing that. But what's been interesting is when I'm directing my own work, it feels so much more connected and it flows easier because I'm not trying to get into someone else's head and understand what they've tried to do or what they want. It's come from me, so I know exactly what I'm going for. I know exactly what I'm hoping to create.  

And what can audiences expect from Love Steps in terms of themes?

I think if people have watched films like Poetic Justice, it kind of has that feel of love and poetry. It's got Black people on stage, and so people, I think, will get the feeling of it's beautiful, it's cool, and it’s got a lot of emotions because it's quite a heightened space and poetry is quite heightened. 

I think people are going to feel the strength of the feelings in the different stages that Anna [she] goes through.

What media, aside from your own work, inspires you?

Since my childhood, there've been lots of films, music and dance that I have watched and listened to that I have liked and gone “Oh, I love this.”

Then I guess when going to make my own play, those things, not deliberately, came into it because I'm writing something I love or want to see. So dance is something I've loved since childhood. 

So it's some of the big movies, like Honey, Step Up One and Two, You Got Served and Save the Last Dance. Are the movies I've loved. To sort of bring those to life and emulate or try and make the piece like that. 

The ingredients I love from those movies; I've got in my piece so, dance and love. I want a love story or dance in my piece. I want great music in my piece, because those are the things I love about those movies.

Sharon Rose and Reece Richards | Credit: Steve Gregson

Who is Anna? Is she you still or is she less you now that you’ve been in rehearsals?

So everything in the play has a real world inspiration for it. I've kind of done that purposely because I feel like there's a resonance and power that comes from truth. 

But I think in trying to present a story of this woman who's looking for love and like doing a sweeping sort of journey, I've had to modify it to make sense. 

And her journey and the men that she encounters have the ingredients of the real life experiences I had with modifications to make it dramatically make sense or more interesting.

Going on the journey of romantic love actually throws up your insecurities and your vulnerabilities. 

In terms of non-romantic love in your own life, who do you look to? 

That's a great question, because I think in the play, we see that we see the people in [Anna’s] life and we see snapshots of them and how they speak into her life and her sense of self. 

Family wise, I'm really close to my Dad. I get so much reinforcement and strength from how he sees me and how he has spoken to me over so many years about life, the world and my place.

In the play, we have a mirror of that relationship with her dad and how her dad questions her. Maybe it adds to the pressure about what's happening with her relationships, because he’s worried about her, but also he reinforces a sense of self and that she's enough as she is. 

Love Steps plays at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham till 20 April

It then transfers to TALAWA from 29 May to 1 June


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