Richard wrote the award winning AS WE FORGIVE THEM, a play again set in a cell, but this time a cell on death row in America. I've stated elsewhere that David Slack and Cathy Crabb recommended me for the production, but I wasn't the first to be approached for this role. I had completely overlooked the fact that Richard had been approached first and couldn't play the part due to other commitments. Richard recommended me to Michael then approached me - and I then approached Michael.
I can't fathom for the life of me why I have forgotten this, apart from the fact that it's been a very busy period for me and I'm meeting myself coming back at the moment, head up my ass? Yes, I'd say so - it's Richard I have to thank for the original tip off and I do so here, you're a gem mate and thanks for the big up - first few drinks on me tonight Richard!
It's been great having a short sabbatical away from Tales from Paradise Heights, getting involved in Michael Crowley's excellent, hard hitting and relevant play THE CELL - here are Michael's thoughts on the work we have been doing this week.
'The Cell' development week at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton, 8th-12th October
I have an almost entirely new cast on my hands, which means re rehearsing of course, but it provides more opportunities than anything else. Joe O’Byrne is my new Scully (the play’s protagonist) and has learned his lines very quickly indeed. We are now into finding news aspects to the character and Joe is capturing his troubled nature so well. The key to the story is Scully’s descent, making it credible whilst at the same time still surprising the audience. Whilst he is becoming more vulnerable in this production, the prisoner Kelly is becoming more severe.
I worry a great deal about the message the play is sending out. I work in a prison and I believe in what I and my colleagues are trying, and sometimes succeeding in achieving there. I was there this morning before rehearsals, in a class with half a dozen lads running a poetry workshop: memoir drawn from a road significant, familiar to the young writer. There was the road where a grandmother died, where a father beat his wife and son, where a boy was knocked down, where diazepam was acquired for a fatal overdose, where a home was invaded. David Barlow who plays Kelly in The Cell came to the prison to work with lads and seems to have absorbed something. His Kelly is seasoned; sensibilities buried alive like so many of the lads. Joe O’Byrne and Jonnie Moran have brought extensive experience and any development of this play is collaborative.
Dreamscope Productions filmed one of the 24:7 shows and this film along with the script is already being used in several prisons as a basis for writing and drama exercises to tackle bullying. Changing people is like writing though, it takes many drafts and this morning I was also with a lad who helped me develop the first draft when he was inside, came to see it on release at 24:7, and is now back in. We’re working on a new play.
Tickets for 12 October here:
Come and join us Friday night at The Octagon Theatre, Bolton, show starts at 7.30 pm, followed by a Q&A with the audience and Michael and the cast...it would be lovely to see you and I can promise you a play you will never forget.