Well, I’ve had this blog set up for a little while now, waiting for my laziness to drift away so I could have the patience to get something down.
I guess I just had to wait for a new decade for inspiration to strike! I hope that’s not going to be a theme throughout my life, otherwise I’ll never get anything done. Although that’s no different to my life right now…And I’ve just done a beautiful job of proving my own point by completely going off tangent. Right! Let’s get down to the real stuff…
Inspiration finally struck during my most recent acting stint, Julius Caesar at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre. I am so lucky to have started the year in a piece of theatre that reminded me why I do what I do and reignited that fire in my belly to constantly make incredible and important theatre. Part of that was due to the incredible artistry of the piece’s creators, which at times was the whole company. For 6 of us to play 19 characters, we had to be truly clear with our intentions and characterisation and discuss every detail to ensure we were all on the same page.
Photography by Albert Graver
One of the most interesting discussions for me was about our portrayals of male characters as women and whether this choice called for any change of text or interpretation etc. Obviously altering Shakespeare’s “immortal” words is a touchy subject, but since the piece had already been cut to 75 minutes from its arduous 3 hours, it was worth debating. The main debate was surrounding the fact that our Caesar was female, but as an actor who’s compete multi-role list was made up of organically male characters, I was fully invested in making the rules, to play the game.
At the crux of our discussions was the question “Why a female Caesar?” To my absolute joy, the main answer was “Why not?” And it’s so true! Why did there have to be a reason? We were setting it in modern day, imagining that the Roman Senate reflects the current British Government, and we had a brilliant female who could portray this iconic role perfectly as a politician who had claimed power. Yes, the piece is based around history, but at the end of the day, this was not verbatim, it was fiction. So why not break the rules?
The moment when I heard those two words, "Why Not?" was the moment that I fell in love with this theatre company. I had been falling ever since we started rehearsals, but that moment sealed the deal. I realised that in the casting process, it wasn’t even a question that women could play these roles. It wasn’t a scheme they were using the sell the piece. It was simply, good artistry. They just wanted the best people for the job, regardless of gender, race, casting brackets etc. They weren’t even trying to make a statement.
And that is the kind of energy that I need in this industry in 2020. Which is why inspiration struck. I am ready for everyone to be represented for the right reasons. For people to be chosen for their talent and their skill and not for who they are. We have such a long way to go, but if we didn’t, I wouldn’t have anything to write about. I am so ready to ride this wave of change and see how we grow as an industry over the next decade. I hope you can join me. As Shakespeare beautifully puts it
“On such a full sea are we now afloat
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures.”