More casting today for The Robben Island Bible reading at the beginning of July. We've been looking for a somebody to play Sonny Venkatrathnam, the owner of book and the principal narrator in the edited version of the play we're using for the event. Today we finally found our man in Vincent Ebrahim, whose recent credits include The Great Game at the Tricycle. He's also been a stalwart for Tara Arts and is best known for playing the Dad in The Kumars at Number 42.
Vincent grew up in South Africa and seemed fascinated by the story. After training in Cape Town, he emigrated to Britain in 1976, just about the time of when the Black Consciousness Movement was reaching its zenith, culminating in the Soweto riots. The arrival on Robben Island of this second generation of political protest, and their lack of respect for the 'passive' resistance of Mandela and his fellow Rivonia Trialists is one of the key themes of our revised text. Many of Vincent's friends took part in anti-apartheid activities and happenings and it's clear just from our brief meeting this afternoon that Vincent, as well as being a fine Sonny, is going to provide a valuable font of knowledge about the development of protest and the complicated relationship between the many political parties and groups that made up the struggle. I'm really pleased he's agreed to do it.
Next stop was the Teenage Cancer Trust for a brief chat about the forum play I'm writing for their conference the week after next. There are two key concepts that I'm still trying to find a voice for in the fragments of script that I've put together. The first is transition - the idea that at key stages during the journey from diagnosis to hopeful remission there are drastic changes to the routine of care, which can cause unnecessary anxiety and concern and secondly the notion of 'survivorship', and the guilt which often accompanies it.
Sue Morgan who chairs the Teenage Cancer Trust Multidisciplinary Forum and has commissioned the work listened carefully to our ideas, told some stories and made a few suggestions. I'm going to try and knock a composite script out over the weekend and resubmit it to the group for comments and to ensure authenticity. My big fear is of getting things factually wrong. A mistake in portraying procedure or protocol could derail the audience and mean that they end up critiquing the play, rather than participating in the search for resolution. I suppose one of the truisms of working in the Applied Theatre field is that you're continually visit fields of knowledge and expertise that are alien to your own training and experience. I'm enjoying the challenge of getting it right.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.