I’ve arrived at the end of the first week of rehearsals. The creative team agrees that when we speak about the work outside of rehearsals we have to start with a little speech that goes something like this

CAST Member: Yes I’m in a play called Lost and Found and loving the work

FRIEND: Oh yeah, what’s it about?

CAST: Yeah it’s about slavery ….

FRIEND Starts to put their serious face on or shoes to run away.

CAST ‘No, no wait, it’s alright it’s got laughs and everything.

FRIEND: Either starts to relax or remain a little afraid.

Stock answer from CAST : Look you’re just going to have to come and see it for yourself.

In 2007 there was wealth of work including Lost and Found that tried to tell the story about the abolition of the transatlantic Slave trade in Britain. It took all year just to get the sentence out. My good friend and creative partner the writer Marcia Layne was commissioned by the company  Yorkshire Women Theatre where I was Artistic Director at the time. Since then as artists we have worked collaboratively and individually. The birth of Hidden Gems Productions is our story and one which we will tell, for now I will share what happened in our first week of rehearsals this week.

So back to Lost and Found. The first day of rehearsals, full of excitement and fear.

This blog is not about disclosing what was said or who did what. The rehearsal space I help to build is a safe space where we can make mistakes and build great work together. What I will be sharing is a flavour of the process. I’m fascinated by how it’s made.

I used to spend ages on the getting to know you process. However on this day I have broken this hippy habit, on this day I was heard to say “ Listen I’m not doing those getting to know you games? All of this should be getting to know you, right?” Surely you get a sense of who people are if they offer to make you a cup of tea, if they arrive on time, if they choose to swear every other word, if they name drop, if they have a swagger or they are frozen in fear with the face of “ everyone knows I shouldn’t be here” We are supposed to be experts in the human condition. Observing like scientists choices people make. I have to have a little clue who people are so that I can communicate quickly to build and support them in the building of the character written.

I love what we do, I love how we do it. Creating a vibe that feels right. In the background India Irie singing Strength, Courage and Wisdom offering Lemon and Ginger Caribbean tea as well as Earl Grey and bringing together a team of hard workers who love what they do. I love to connect, to get right to it.

We have at the core of the story the question of what happens for two young people called Ashleigh and Ricky when the subject of slavery is taught in schools. We then travel over time and continents with the plantation story set in the Caribbean and a love story set in West Africa. It's an exciting challenge. We had a great warm up where we discussed the Huddersfield landscape using various accents.

I find on the rehearsal floor with the actors I have many voices. I use both my English and Jamaican voice sometimes in the same sentence. I have even let out the odd Jamaican exclamation which amuses the actors no end and comforts me. I am on my two feet working with a Writer Producer I respect doing it the way I see fit. Owning the choices and bursting to share with the world.

At the end of this first week we have a hard-working and talented team and for this brief moment we want to share with you what we have found.

Please join us for the performances of Lost and Found. We’d love to see you there.