Our two student ambassadors, Leanne Crichton and Sam McElhattan tell us what it’s like inside Stand and Be Counted's rehearsal room at Cast, whilst they make their new show Where We Began.
The ideas and concept of Where We Began began two years ago after SBC's previous production of TANJA, after Tafadzwa Muchenje approached the team, having felt emotionally connected to the piece. He took the chance to tell them the story of his life, the story of him being threatened with deportation from the UK and even though the rest of his family was accepted, he was rejected. Taking inspiration from his story, the SBC team put a call out to performers from different countries to explore the many stories which formed into this piece. The team the researched and developed the piece together and are now at the final stage, an intense rehearsal period of three weeks to get the production ready to tour.
During rehearsals, the team have gone through every part of the script, bringing in material from previous development sessions as well as creating new material exploring the characters and the world they have created. The world consists of people being forced to move back to the country they were born in, families being separated, and lives being destroyed. Things of which happen in reality, Tafadzwa’s story being a perfect example.
Today in rehearsal, I saw a full run of Where We Began for the first time. Not the full monty - lights, costume, sound, etc., just the bare bones, letting me focus on what the play means fundamentally. Where We Began explores a concept that could affect all of us and one we cannot completely shake from our minds: everyone is forced to return to their country of birth. The play throws you straight into the aftermath of the new law from the perspectives of a range of situations and countries. There is a diverse exploration of responses to forced displacement: personal, political, violent and powerful. Through speech, movement, sound, protest and music, it asks what forms our identities, what is home, and what really matters. Where We Began is a touching portrayal of a very human reaction to a very inhuman policy. I’m excited to see how it grows in the last few days of rehearsal.
Stand and Be Counted (SBC Theatre) are Hannah Butterfield, Rosie MacPherson and John Tomlinson. They are the UK's first Theatre Company of Sanctuary and are Associate Artists at Cast. Where We Began opens at Cast on Thurs 13 and Fri 14 September before going on a national tour.