On finding themselves mysteriously imprisoned, the protagonists of our tale Leon and Keith do the only thing they can do, they start telling stories.
‘The Plant’ is a darkly comic exploration, of society, Bulgarian morning whisky, bureaucracy and the stories that make up our everyday lives.
The performance on Sat 25, 9.00pm is followed by a Q&A session.
Jonny has trained at The Boris Shukin Vakhtangov Institute Moscow and recently graduated from The Drama Centre London. Credits at Drama Centre London: Our Town, Leo Paradise Lost, Henry IV Part I, Orestes. Other Credits: James JD Story (Criterion Theatre), Tuzenbach Three Sisters (Boris Shukin/ Vakhtangov Institute Moscow), Konstantin The Seagull (Manic Chord Theatre).
Trained at the Manchester School of Theatre. He is currently in Dunham Massey’s site-specific theatre piece Sanctuary From The Trenches and will soon begin filming Spiral (BFI/Creative England ishorts). Credits: Ned Illusion (Real Life Theatre), A Great War (Real Life Theatre – JB Shorts/Re:Play), Malcolm Macbeth (Clapham Omnibus), Henry V Henry V (Hallé Orchestra), Mother Courage And Her Children (Library Theatre Company).
James is a writer, performer and designer. He is one of the core members of Enter Edem and is currently performing as Captain Pop in Origins. He is dedicated to his physical and capoeira training, which adds an extra dimension to his abilities as a creator of comic characters. His play Saving Dave was performed as a rehearsed reading at 24:7 2013 and he appeared in the 2011 play The Legend Of The Ghost Shark
Jocelyn was recently Assistant Director at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton (Regional Theatre Young Directors’ Scheme), where she directed: On A Quiet Street in Bolton, Letters over Lunch and Poetry on a Plate. Other credits: Apathy [Theatre Uncut] (ALRA North), The Most Horrific & The Finger of God (Byre Theatre), Go On Then [Stage to Page] (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow), Decade (Edinburgh Festival Fringe).
Trained at Guildford School of Acting. Deputy Stage Manager at Octagon Theatre, Bolton. This is her first time in the role of Assistant Director
Trained at Queen Margaret and Edinburgh Napier University. Credits include: Ollie in Gambling Awareness Summit and THINK Health Summit (Altru Drama), Robin Hood & Baroness Botox Robin Hood (M&M Theatrical Productions), Big World Project (Bespoke Theatre), Lifting the Mask (PromisKus Theatre Co and New Celts), Plaza Suite (New Celts), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (New Celts)
Trained at School of Sound Recording. Sound Design credits: Game of Souls (Casagua Productions), Fool for Love (Blind Faith and James Baker Productions), Origins (Enter Edem), Afterglow (24:7 2014), Hidden (Black Toffee) and Handles (Re:play Festival). Assistant Stage Manager on Jekyl and Hyde (Manchester Musical Youth).
Michael is a director, writer and sometimes actor. He trained at the École Jacques Lecoq in Paris and teaches movement at ALRA North. He is the co-artistic director of Square Peg Theatre who’s credits include: Roseacre (July 2015; Waterside Arts Centre), Icarus (Lowry Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe), The Man Who Woke Up Dead (Waterside Arts Centre, National Tour).
Our cast, Jonny and Alex, reflect on the second period of rehearsals with Chris
J: The first thing that comes to mind is creating the room. We decided quite early on that it is white. Concrete. All six sides.
A: Yes, we put features into it.
J: Yup, such as cracks in the wall, a grate, and later on we talked about potentially something in the front wall, or around that area which implies the power and world outside.
A: When we first built the room and we remained in it, we stayed in there for about an hour and a half this morning. We built the room and were just in the white square, and then you asked us to leave the room and told us that we could never come back. And that made me feel horrible. I’d just spent an hour and a half acclimatising to the four walls, and the floor and the ceiling, and the light, and the cracks, so the idea of never being able to come back into something you’ve created is just horrible. Then, this afternoon when we did one of the improvisation exercises in a specific scenario, all I wanted to do was leave the room. And when the exercise ended, and I left the room, I felt relieved that I didn’t have to go back today.
A: We were asked a number of questions and from the text work we did yesterday, and the relationships we’ve been building today, the relationship between us, and in relation to the room, I got more of an idea who Leon is. I can sum him up in five words at the moment. And I gave a sentence to represent him, which works for the moment; I think it will probably change though.
J: Even if you change the sentence, the way you were going about finding those words to sum him up, it was like you were changing the way you were thinking, to be like Leon. Kind of like going down that corridor of someone else’s thinking.
A: What did you find out about Keith?
J: We found out about his particular, and different relationship with the room. To do with how long he’s been there compared to Leon, and how he’s actually exhausted. He’s not accepting, he’s just got no energy left to fight now. He’s been on the journey in his own way, which is the journey that Leon is now on – the story of being here, and existing only in this room. I felt a lot of tragedy today, and about the importance of that undercutting, or overarching, everything. The notion of sensation and the outside world, we started to explore that and I definitely think that is quite important.
A: I found the seven states of tension exercises really helpful, because then I started to find a way of literally moving my body in different ways that would then become a character – a different walk, a different posture – that process to transform. And being able to just go ‘ok, four’ and having those states, I could jump in quite quickly, get there, and be in faster.
J: I feel like we got an insight into what me and Alex are like, how different we are, as well.
A: The animal studies and improvisations were really helpful. Interesting, and definitely helped me. Using animals as a way of transformation, and bringing a different energy, rhythm, tempo, into you – it really helped because I was able to find that and then try and keep it, in the body and the mind, and incorporate that into the characterisation. I also found stillness from doing that. Figuring out when and how Leon would be still.
J: I remember when I watched you outside in Albert Square last time, you did some similar things – you lead from your head then too. So it’s interesting that you found an animal which reinforced that.
A: It was beneficial to enter a white square, and build it ourselves through guided visualisation and imagination. Because in building the space ourselves, it immediately begins to feel more confined. If we have the same square in our minds, it makes the space more alive.
J: It means there’s more there.
A: You guiding us to imagine and build it ourselves stopped it from being contrived, or built on assumptions of what people do in confined spaces, like acting as people in lifts, for example.
J: I saw your method as quite direct in that way. Because actually what this is, is two people in a confined space. But with the animals, for example, that shows how it’s kind of primal, you know. Those instincts, which are, in a way, what you’re reduced to in that situation. What’s maybe different is that we humans tell stories. And animals don’t. And maybe that’s what separates us? These rehearsals and exercises have really encouraged fantasy, and playfulness, and inventiveness, and I’ve really enjoyed that.
C: All of today I’ve been seeing what this white cube like, the world you’re having to live in; I can visualise what it’s like now. It’s very real, and quite isolating. It’s given me a whole other aspect of thinking – in terms of why you are there, and what the world outside the square is like. When I first read the play I thought it was quite light-hearted, but in fact it’s actually a really heart-breaking play in some ways, and I hope that when it comes to its final shape, that the audience will get to see that really dark side to it.
J: I think that’s something to aspire to. If the audience don’t know whether to laugh or cry, that’s great.
A: I’d love to walk away from it knowing that we’ve intrigued or excited an audience in some way.
We had our first read through of the script and it was really nice to hear it out loud with the voices of the characters, giving the play a life instead of just reading it off a page. James was interested to hear the interpretation of the actors and how this contrasted with the voices he had heard in his head during writing.
We then went outside to Albert Square as it was a bonnie day and Jo worked closely with Alex and Jonny on characterisation. The boys worked on visualisation and physicality of their characters, their relationship to the space around them, and to each other.
Alex and Jonny also had time to do it on their own and study each other. They focussed on describing the other character before them, and then interacting to try and affect a change in them. We learnt about the potential dynamics between them, and differences in their energies and presences. Later on they discussed between them, and Jo, what they noticed about each other, the way they walked, where they lead from within their bodies and also how Leon and Keith see the world. This provided a strong basis to return to the script and complete some closer script work.
Following a second read through, we discussed who has control and higher status on the script at different points. Jo decided not to unit the play as she doesn’t want that to impact the play – she feels, and the cast agreed, that it needs to be a fluid and spontaneous bout of storytelling, and therefore the risk of dividing it into chunks might trap the actors into divided portions rather than one continuous narrative. She instead suggested going about it as control levels and status shifts between Keith and Leon. This will make it easier for Alex and Jonny to be aware of the power shifts and therefore hopefully easier to learn.
Such an interesting process being on the other side of the audition panel as I’m normally being the one auditioned. As my director had so much to think about, me being there helped her a lot for being a second pair of eyes and another thought, so therefore it was really good for the decision making. The play I’m helping out with is mainly focused on the relationship between the two characters, so we worked hard pairing different people up to get it right. Also one thing to bear in mind for the Footie is to get to the auditions early and for you to sort things out before people arrive. This will just help the director and make things flow much faster and smoother.
As an Actor it has helped me a lot for when I go to auditions, as it’s your personality which pays a lot in an audition room. Also that it’s not always about talent, you can be amazing but just not quite right for the role which the director is looking for.
I would recommend to anyone who is an actor, if you ever get the chance to be on an audition panel, it will really help you see it from a different light and what to do and what not to do.
For any future Footie, if you can make the auditions to your show, go because is it such a great insight!!