Sunday, 14 February 2016

My Brassy Valentine

You know when you write an entire blog entry, press a button by mistake and somehow manage to irreparably lose the lot? That!

It's Valentine's Day today, and Nathan and I have just had a rather lovely meal in a little Turkish restaurant on South End Green. We had "his and her" moussakas. Mine was vegetarian. His had meat in it. And we shared a Greek Salad.

The rest of the day was spent back in Pimlico, not with the cast of Beyond the Fence, but running auditions for NYMT.

Today was the last of the first round of auditions. Next weekend, the recalls take place. It was a record breaking session with around 100 young people, split into four age groups, and the day started with a mega-selfie taken by Kate Golledge, the director of one of this season's other shows.

The NYMT is such a happy family. Our grandad is Jeremy James Taylor, who founded the company exactly forty years ago. Jeremy Walker is everyone's Dad. And I guess I'm like a naughty uncle. I adore spending time in the auditions. I always feel so welcomed and valued. It's like a Oasis of warmth in the middle of the arctic blast of the rest of my present life.

Today I was running acting auditions with young Jordan, who is assisting Nikolai Foster on Spring Awakenings. Because of the dark and angst-ridden subject matter of that particular show, NYMT has decided that no one below the age of 16 can be in it. The same age restrictions have been put on Brass, but that's more to do with licensing and the fact that it is written specifically for people aged 16-23.

Anyway, our acting auditions always start with improvisations based on the themes of Spring Awakenings, which are dark with a capital D. Rape. Drug abuse. Abortion. Sexual deviance. Suicide. The shocking list goes on and on. No wonder the original novel was banned for so long!

Anyone running sessions which explore these sorts of issues has a duty of care and I found myself constantly telling them all that they didn't have to say anything which made them feel uncomfortable and that if anything they took part in or watched triggered a strong emotional release it was worth talking it through with a trust-worthy adult.

I always reckoned Brass was something of an adult-themed show, but compared to Spring Awakenings it starts to resemble a Flintstones cartoon! I always use script from Brass because I find it hard to tell from improvisation alone how good an actor is. They may be brilliant at making stuff up, but if they don't know how to handle text, our battle becomes that much harder.

Those who get recalled for Brass do have to show that they can do a Yorkshire accent. There is no point in casting anyone in the piece who is likely to come unstuck in this respect. I was fairly astonished that quite a few of the young people today didn't know what a Yorkshire accent even sounded like! It is always such a thrill when a genuine Yorkshire person gets their hands on the script and doesn't even question a line like "I can't believe they sent t'Bradford lot out there just to cut t'grass." It is my goal to have as many legitimate Yorkshire folk in the show as I can. This production ought to be as authentic as possible. It marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme after all and tells the story of two real life groups of people.

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