Last month we were super excited to have Debarred Theatre working in our rehearsal room, a new company made up solely of those who’ve had direct experience with the criminal justice system. They spent one week in the rehearsal room at PPHQ, beginning the development and rehearsal of their first production, THE BARRED by Dean Stalham.
We asked them to write a short blog about THE BARRED and their time here:
First week of rehearsals is over, in what has been one of the most enlightening week’s of my career.
The play ‘The Barred’, written by Dean Stalham, is about a prisoner trying to keep a dark family secret locked away from the prison authorities (Mr Mac), but at the same time opening his mind to the world of creativity encouraged by the local writer in residence (Andrew). A simple plot layered with complex sub text that explores family divides, love, middle class ideology on the working class, corruption of the prison system and that creativity no matter how hard people may try, can never be crushed…phew what a play!
In a small but very pleasant rehearsal room with 5 actors, a director, writer and crew, the process is intense (like the walls of a cell) but this is what attracted me to the role and company. This is a straight talking get down to business process – warts and all.
Trying to find my character this week has been an amazing and at times a tearful experience with emotions flying around the room. As an actor that uses the Stanislavski system, it has been great to work with a theatre company that embraces all styles, even if things can be a little strange and odd at times.
The greatest gift has been the writer, producer and director allowing this process to go the distance amongst the actors. At times it’s been incredibly tough, but at the end of the day we’ve been working towards one goal of truth and great work, which has meant we’ve ended a very positive week for all!
With a cast mainly from a flavoured working class background, it has been an amazing privilege to work with such directness. The language can be colourful but just as colourful as the work that is beginning to flow. They say that people who swear are more honest than those that don’t, maybe there is something to be said about that when working in the arts?
Paines Plough has been wonderfully welcoming without judgement and I am sure patient as the volume of emotions fly out of the rehearsals room into the corridor. Maybe it’s a perfect match? A company known for stretching the boundaries of traditional theatre and a band of misfits and rogues that challenge the status quo of the drama world with work that has a deep undercutting message like in ‘The Barred': “Middle class solutions for working class people will never work until it is the working class that drive these solutions from the bottom up”.
What I can say is give a group of hungry actors and a grass roots writer a small room and you can watch their confidence grow over just a week. I know something special is going to happen in 2015 for ‘The Barred’ and Paines Plough can gladly say that they were a huge contribution in that process.
Thanks for the room guys and we hope you will have us again.
Luke McGibney – Actor
The Debarred Theatre Company
You can find out more information on our rehearsal room here or to check availability and book please call 0207 240 4533 or email firstname.lastname@example.org