After much anticipation, the first day of rehearsals for new play ‘The Bricks Of Burston’ has finally arrived! Being in South Norfolk, where the play is set and The Stuff of Dreams Theatre Company is based, always brings back fond memories of my early childhood spent with my grandparents. I feel I have a strong emotional connection with this part of Norfolk. It is especially exciting to be involved in an artistic project that commemorates a key part of social history; The Burston School Strike.
As I step off the train at Diss I am greeted with an abundance of enthusiasm by Cordelia Spence, the Artistic Director of Stuff Of Dreams. When fellow actor Georgia Robson arrives at the station a few minutes later, I can tell from her energy and presence that she will make a powerful Annie Higdon.
After we have said our hellos and introduced ourselves properly, we take a drive to the village of Burston to see the Strike School and the church in which Reverend Charles Tucker Eland, who I am playing, worked and preached. It’s great to be able to see and breathe in the architecture in which these events took place. This truly is living history.
Our final stop is the Brew House in Pulham Market which will be the venue for our rehearsals. After a few light refreshments – Cordelia informs us that Stuff of Dreams is fuelled partially by tea and biscuits – we commence with our first read-through of the fantastic script written by Emma MacLusky and Ant Cule.
The attention to detail in the script meant I could immediately immerse myself into the character of Reverend Charles Tucker Eland. The clipped dialogue allowed me to capture his voice and physicality from the off. It was also immediately apparent that there would be many layers to explore in this role, and I was excited to pick through the layers of the Reverend. After the read through we immersed ourselves in actioning and pulling every ounce of detail from various key scenes. Over the next few days we continued to explore the dynamics between Reverend Eland and Annie Higdon in order to establish the relationship between these complex characters.
On the fourth day of rehearsals we were joined by Tom Grace, who is playing Thomas Higdon. The arrival of Tom injected a fresh burst of passion and excitement to the proceedings; with the full cast assembled, we could take the rehearsal process to the next level. Tom captured the impulsive and volatile character instantly, once again with the help of the brilliant script, and the pace of rehearsals with the three of us present increases dramatically.
This feels like it is going to be a powerhouse of a show, I just hope I can keep up.