Archive for September 2013

SOLD – one week in

Today is my first day off in a week. I’ve been continuing to work in my office job and write for my freelance clients as well as rehearsing for about four hours a day since this time last week. Today I decided to take a day off from the office, leave my writing to one side and enjoy the time to recuperate without a rehearsal to attend this evening.

Surprisingly, while I am tired I’m not exhausted as I thought I would be. The rehearsals are mentally and physically tiring and my brain won’t stop whirring (though if it would run my own lines instead of everyone else’s that would be really helpful!) but I’m feeling strangely energised.

Given the subject matter of the play and the distressing nature of the stories of the characters, it never ceases to amaze me how much we end up laughing in every rehearsal. Last night’s rehearsal in particular, where Jennifer asked us to amplify the emotion in our performance to pantomime levels, was completely physically exhausting but I don’t know the last time I’ve laughed that much. Watching the other characters snapping from melodramatic misery to over-the-top excitement and back in the space of two sentences was hilarious and by the time we finished my sides were aching.

I know that all this has a greater purpose, though. If we were just drilling through the lines and learning where to stand in relation to each other on stage at each point in the script, we wouldn’t have created such well-rounded characters as we already have. Although five of the six of us have previously been involved in a production of this play, I can see how everyone’s characters have developed and changed. Our newest cast member, actress Shekira Johnson, feels like an old friend already and her interpretation of the character is so different to the previous actress who portrayed her, it’s given a whole new dynamic to the way the interactions play out. I’m sure that people returning to see the play for a second time will really notice the difference.

I feel that having a day off today will be a good choice. I could feel myself getting frustrated yesterday with hearing my own voice and that of other characters I’ve played coming through in place of Maria’s. Jennifer assures us that we’re right on track in terms of character development and I agree with her that it’s difficult for us to see how far we’ve come when we’re right in the thick of it. I’m sure that tomorrow we will be able to return with renewed energy and see how far we’ve come in just one week.

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Here goes… TvO presents Sold, by J. S. Hartley

As of tomorrow, I enter one of the most intense creative periods of my life to date. For three weeks, I will join a cast of five others and our director, Jennifer Hartley, to create a world that we will take on tour in October.

Still from short film of Sold

Almost a year ago, six actors including myself went into rehearsal for a production of a play called No Soul For Sale. The production had its debut at the International Conference on Human Trafficking at the All-Nations Centre in Cardiff and was hugely acclaimed by all who saw it. From those beginnings, the play has now become SOLD which, supported by funding from the Arts Council, will go on a tour of venues around Wales in October and November 2013.

SOLD is based on testimonies of individuals who have suffered at the hands of traffickers in Wales. They come from different backgrounds and circumstances, all different ages and each with their own individual story of how they have been trafficked. In SOLD, six characters collide at a city centre bus stop on a series of winter evenings; human suffering finding solace in its fellow’s pain.

When we first started working with the text of No Soul For Sale, we had an understandably dour and upsetting story in our hands. Fresh from interviews with over 30 people who had been trafficked through Wales, Jennifer Hartley wrote the play and presented it hot off the presses to the cast. At that time, she confessed to feeling as though the inclusion of humour in a play dealing with what was at times such personal and deeply upsetting subject matter felt disrespectful. However, as we as actors brought life to the characters that separated them from the stories of the individuals whose experiences were reflected in the play, elements of laughter began to creep into the dialogue in the way so many people in harrowing circumstances try to lighten their own situations with gallows humour.

SOLD is a reworking of the original script and includes much of the material that emerged through the rehearsal process as we worked together to bring to life the characters as separate from the people whose stories form the basis of the play. With new cast members, a revised script and time to spend developing the lives of these six individuals further, the play that goes on tour is likely to be deeper, richer and more hard-hitting than before. Having been involved first time, it’s hard to believe that such a thing is possible, but knowing Jennifer and TvO as I do, I know that will be the case.

The tour starts on the 12 October in Cardiff and continues at venues around Wales through October and early November. If you are in the area and are able to attend, it would be fantastic to see you there. I’m very proud of this piece, even before we start working on it anew, and would be honoured to share it with you.

Wales tour dates:
Chapter Arts Centre 12 + 13 October
Volcano @229 Swansea 14 -15
Wrexham 17 travel – 18th 9a.m performance
Theatr Gwaun Fishguard 19 October
Cardiff & Vale College 21 October
Sherman Theatre 22 October
Llanelli Studio Y Ffwnes 23-24 October
Theatr Soar Merthyr 7 November

For more information: theatreversusoppression@gmail.com
www.theatreversusoppression.com

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