"It's just you and the audience": Elephant On Tour
The cast and crew of Elephant took the highly anticipated new drama from writer Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti on tour around Birmingham and our local communities.
We asked members of the cast what tour life is like, and what it means to them to take this raw and real story from The REP into the community.
A recurring answer from several cast members was that the tour greatly increases accessibility to the theatre. The tour attracts a different demographic to productions located at The REP – it is cheaper and more easy to get to for those in the local area, and provides a more intimate setting for the actors as well as the audience. Farshid Rokey (Bill) told us “As an actor and a human, to see the audience affected after shows and say 'thank you for doing this, I could never afford to go to the theatre as ticket prices are too expensive, but today I experienced something I won't forget' is really why I do this.” He adds that had there been a similar tour when he was younger, it might have kept him out of trouble.
It is heart-warming to see each community environment embracing the tour. “As an actor it's a brilliant challenge because you can't rely on the lighting and smoke and mirrors to support your performance – it's just you and the audience. So you'd better be truthful or they will know!” says Yasmin Wilde (Deesh). Similarly, Ezra Faroque Khan (Barry) notes that “there are none of the luxury features of being at The REP, such as full lighting, sound, entrances and exits or the comfort own dressing rooms,” yet it is evident that the audiences are remaining entirely engaged with the piece. On one of the first nights of the tour, a group of women waited in the foyer after the performance to congratulate the actors, who were leaving through the same exit as the audience. This, in itself, represents the intimacy of the community tour – instead of the audience being distanced from the performers by a stage and an auditorium, the tour is bringing them closer together.
Sukh Ojla (Vira) describes how “It's a fantastic opportunity to see a brilliant, current and important play written by one of best playwrights of our generation. And hopefully it will make you laugh, cry and leave you with lots to think about!”
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