NORTH LONDON ACTORS
Our monthly Circle reading for March was originally going to be a Feydeau farce, but due to problems obtaining the script in a suitable format to be given to our members, it was changed to a piece of new writing by our very own Chairman. ‘Fight for Your Life’ by Gareth Pilkington is based around a writing group and was partly done as a spoof of the members of a group Gareth used to be with. The basic story is of relevance to all – not only writers – but some of the spoof element will need to come out if the play is taken further. After the reading Gareth said “The last circle reading was Fight for Your Life a play I wrote in 1999 as a spoof of the writing group of which I was a member. I hadn’t originally thought of developing it until reading it again recently when I thought perhaps if pruned of some of the spoof element it might work as a play anyone could relate to. The reading was to see whether others thought it would be worthwhile. Everyone enjoyed it so I will revise it accordingly.”
Our March performance was a production of ‘The Fall & Redemption of Man’ by John Bowen directed by Kenn Michaels. As this play is still in copywright we had to get a licence for the performance, which we did. North London Actors doesn’t just perform out of copywright old plays, we also tackle modern plays that have dropped off of the radar. The proximity of Easter was what drew Kenn to the subject and it is a play he has known and loved for some time. Although it deals with events in the life of Christ it has scenes with no religious connotations at all (such as the sheep stealing incident) and is full of comedy.
Kenn commented “So The Fall and Redemption… well, I had, and have, a sentimental attachment to the piece as it was one of the first large-cast plays I directed, at university, many moons ago! It was a challenge then, and it presented different challenges this time round. Then, I was obviously much less experienced and had to deal with much ribbing from the cast about the ‘religious’ content of the play. Last week this was not brought up, everyone involved seeming to accept that it was a valid historical work that should be given an airing. I seem to remember having a certain Roger Allam in the cast all those years ago (he’s done rather well for himself since!).
It is a play that renders the old medieval Mystery plays into modern English and tells the story of human history from the Creation to the Passion, from a Christian perspective. The plays were originally commissioned by the church to convey the Bible stories to a largely illiterate population/congregation. This makes it sound a bit too reverential – far from it. There is much coarse humour in these plays, and they’re all the better for it.
It was a challenging prospect to try to do justice to this vast canvas in a mere 6 hours’ rehearsal and with a cast that was put together at almost the last minute. But all rose to the occasion wonderfully and were genuinely moved by the unfolding story, as were the small but select audience who braved a cold and unseasonably wintry night!
Because of the length of the piece we didn’t have a Q and A session afterwards. However one member of the audience suggested very forcefully that he thought the play was strange in being so ‘modern’ and yet he felt a little antisemitic. I tried to point out that this was an updating of the original English regional texts and reflected the times they were composed (15-16th century). However sensitive the subject matter, I feel the play has merit and I welcomed this opportunity to revive it.
This is the type of work that chimes with NLA’s mission statement.”
We had an extra event on Wednesday 27th March. We were asked to read a new play called ‘Chelsea Smiles’ by member Chris Rogers. The play is to be read at the Royal Court in due course (though by their own actors). Chris was looking for constructive criticism as well as a reading. The play was about a rich Chelsea family and the effects of the financial crisis. A group of regular members took the parts and we did a reading to Chris and a few guests. The evening was a success and Chris was pleased to hear his play, and to receive the feedback from the actors.
Further details of North London Actors can be found at
The best way to see what we do is come along to one of our events. April’s events are: A performance of ‘The Accrington Pals’ Peter Whelan on Wednesday 17th April and a Circle Reading of ‘De Monfort’ by Joanna Baillie on Monday 29th April. All events are held at The Oak and Pastor, 86 Junction Road, N19 5QZ (Nearest tube Archway. 10 minutes from Upper Holloway Overground. Bus 134 or 390, Pemberton Gardens bus stop. Parking in the area free after 6.30 pm.)