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Tuna at Cambridge's ADC Theatre: 'Shooting shampoo bottles was normal'

A darkly comic one woman show about growing up in a house where illegal guns were lying around is the new project of a former Cambridge Footlights performer.

Cambridge University graduate Rosanna Suppa has used some of her own childhood experiences as a launchpad for TUNA, a monologue that takes in rehabilitation groups for young offenders, being shot at through the ceiling of her home and wisecracking characters who defy audience expectations.

Rosanna says: “I come from that kind of world but the story itself is not mine. Some of the gun anecdotes are true, and are just taken from my growing up, but around 70 per cent of the narrative isn't mine. I didn't go to a young offenders rehab group, I don’t have a sister. It’s a completely fabricated story but there are small anecdotal inclusions that are true. I do have one story about shooting at a shampoo bottle in the bath and it breaking the window.

TUNA starring Rosanna Suppa. Picture by Katerina Kotti (51321613)
TUNA starring Rosanna Suppa. Picture by Katerina Kotti (51321613)

“I also talk about attitudes towards being the first generation of a family that has the chance to go to university. That is all obviously my story.”

When Rosanna came to study at Cambridge after simply being “good at exams”, as she put it, she was astonished to discover other people’s lives had been far different from hers. Her father had been in the restaurant trade but some of the patrons were involved in situations that meant there were guns lying around her house.

“I remember vividly that feeling of, ‘Oh, people grew up differently. Not everyone had this kind of experience and that hit me when I met a massive amount of people from very different backgrounds. But not in a sad or tragic way. It never really feels like a Billy Elliot story - that’s not what I’m trying to tell.

TUNA starring Rosanna Suppa. Picture by Katerina Kotti (51321610)
TUNA starring Rosanna Suppa. Picture by Katerina Kotti (51321610)

“I just wanted to hear working class voices, especially women, being funny and clever in all the ways that characters like that aren't afforded on TV. So it's centred around this one protagonist who grows up in a small town, and whose life is heavily influenced by illegal firearms. It's about how she grows up and gets through her A Levels looking after her sister. And she has to make the choice between going to university or choosing to do something else about adult life.

“When I was growing up Little Britain was the only portrayal of working class people on TV. Now I see Fleabag, and she's allowed to be acerbic and witty and biting and make clever jokes, and I've just always wondered why people from a different background aren't also allowed to be witty and clever.

“You don't see positive, funny, capable, working class women on stage and TV, and I wanted to just be a tiny voice that helped change that.”

Fri 17 - Sat 18 September

ADC Theatre.

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