76 Days

February 8, 2010

First the Daily Grind:

get another quote for our public liability insurance; send contract and first payment to publicist; chase up late funders; do the follow up our poster and flyer…

then send out lots more invitations to come to the community cast  introductory workshops on 22nd and 24th February (see Day 83). We want to have as genuinely diverse and representative community cast as we can muster. We’re looking to put about the word through other community networks that know and support our work:  Blackfriars Settlement, CoolTan Arts, Creative Routes – and, of course, the Crossbones clan, aka the Friends of Crossbones…

We’ve already cast the principle characters, with professional actors, who’ll drive the set. Little by little, we can reveal:

Michelle Watson will be in the role of The Goose. She was a fine Moll Cutpurse last time round, when Di Sherlock played The Goose. In the decade since, she’s been Goose to my John Crow at most of the 12 Halloweens of Crossbones and at many an other ritual drama or spoken word performance. I’m delighted that she now gets to play her the big one.

Some were shocked to learn  that I won’t be playing John Crow, the role I played in the original production, and the persona with which I’ve become linked through my ten years and more of  “service” at Crossbones.  Yet The Southwark Mysteries is, at heart, a spiritual work in which I am fully engaged, and the very act of objectifying John Crow, of having him played by an actor, is a crucial part of this journey to liberation – most of all, from myself.

More prosaically, as the (reluctant, yet now committed) producer of this show, the man responsible for keeping it on the road (not to mention the writer), it makes sense for me not to be in it.

So, the part of John Crow will be played by Charlie Folorunsho. Charlie is an extraordinary, edgy black actor, a brother south Londoner.  He played the part of Mr Haddy in my 1990s adaptation of The Mosquito Coast for David Glass Ensemble (Young Vic).  I like the idea that having a black John Crow will awake other mythical associations with the vulture of Caribbean folklore – and this is a truth of John Crow, in his (outwardly) white and black incarnations,  the carrion crow devouring the putrefying corpses, transforming them into flights of the spirit…

More inside stories on the rest of the casting to follow. The community cast will be crucial, creating epic set-pieces as Devils and Lost Souls, Jubilee Line Tunnellers and Sisters of Redcross… There will be lines for all who feel up to them, group songs to sing, and small yet splendid cameo parts to play.

And, yes, we are now, unofficially, on the Quest for God. In The Southwark Mysteries, The Old Man in the Old Testament is the ultimate cameo part for a celebrity:

“When I was offered the part of God, I was given to understand it was the lead.”

We’re offering the part to Arthur Smith, because we have a direct line to him, because he’s a true south Londoner, and because… well, he’d be great. He hasn’t said yes, yet – and he may not be able to do all three nights – so we may be open to offers, especially if you have an in with, say, Simon Callow…

We could even have a Female God (challenging for some old skool Bishops) played by… Patricia Hodge?

Or Michael Caine, who first stepped out on a stage at Clubland down the Walworth Road, for the ultimate, south London God Father:

“My name is…”

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