Thank you to our guest blog wolf Rebecca Schafer for sharing her experience so far as part of the cast of upcoming Phoenix Players show ‘The Ashes’
For the past 5 months I have been involved in Phoenix Player’s new acting group – The Ashes, working on a devised piece about South East London during The Blitz of 1940-41, directed by the very lovely John Hanscombe from Good Wolf.
When I found out we were devising a piece on The Blitz, I was super excited. I absolutely love the 1940’s vintage style and have a great interest in the history of that time. Being a South Londoner myself, I was instantly attracted to the idea of using real-life accounts from Londoners to create a verbatim piece.
I have always enjoyed the devising process as there is something enthralling about starting with a simple stimulus and creating something completely organic using real-life research, coupled with people’s imaginations. Our process started with a series of activities, which helped build relationships between us as a group and introduced techniques which enabled us to explore content.
At the very beginning of the process, we were given a series of accounts from homeless people to read out as a group, as an example of how we could create a verbatim piece of theatre. From that moment I could see the power of using real life testimonials to create a piece. I came away from that session which an emotional connection to the lives of the people I had been reading about and knew what we would create in the following months would be an influential, informative and emotional piece of drama.
As the process developed and our research grew, suddenly we started to see many political and social themes appearing and our vision about how we wanted to tell our story became clear; we decided to intertwine read life accounts with our own semi-fictional characters which we would create and so my character, Evelyn Baker was born!
I have had an amazing time creating Evelyn, her highs and lows have become my highs and lows. Her happiness is important to me, and her sadness pains me. There is something beautiful about creating a character from a basic set of circumstances and then watching the layers unfold the more you delve into and create their story. Each of the characters we have created from The Ashes are individual and complex, and I’m sure I speak for the whole cast here when I say they will always live on in our hearts!
So, please come to check out our show! Come watch our hard work reveal our characters journeys throughout a very tough time in Britain. I know how much I relate to that right now and that is why Evelyn’s life during the Blitz resonates with me on such an emotional level!
The Ashes will be performed from Wednesday 6th – Saturday 9th June. Shows start at 19:30
The Emmanuel Church Youth and Community Hall, 96 Clive Rd, London SE21 8BU