A tapestry of voices is emerging in our telling of this story and it is at once beautiful and charged.
We hear voices from very different worlds: the self-made man, the Gradgrind school of reason and logic, the impact of this school on his family and students, the moneyed gentry, the circus and of course the Hands working dawn till dusk to keep the self-made man at the top of his game.
One of our company, Perry Moore – (masterfully taking on the role of Young Tom Gradgrind) – pointed out that the level of excitement in Act II notches up, because all these worlds begin to tumble right into one another – and the consequences of individual actions become fatal.
When I first heard of Northern Broadsides, I was most struck by the company championing a diversity of Northern voices in all text – classical, modern, musical – as far as I understood, they were making work applicable and accessible to the breath-taking tapestry of voices alive and beating in our Northern towns, villages and cities.
Why would this excite a mixed-race Cypriot from North London? Because it seemed like a direct challenge to the idea that certain texts or characters should speak in a certain way.
I was never sure that my natural speaking voice was ‘appropriate’ for classical texts, in particular. Fortunately, I’ve worked with several fantastic directors, vocal coaches and tutors who want the actors roots in the rehearsal room and if we are going to adopt an accent/dialect, a culture, a social strata when developing the role, we would always start from ourselves – our richest resource when building a part. If we eventually moved away from our own sounds and rhythms it would be done gently over rehearsals – like bringing two worlds together – stepping inside each other – looking at and getting to know each other with respect, trust and therefore, transparency.
No part of the North, South, East or West of our beautiful island can possibly have one sound and one sound only. Communities may share vowels, rhythms and vocal textures but it can vary terrifically from town to town. And more than that, each person is an individual – their own personal history cannot be stereotyped or generalised and clumsily stamped, for example, with the label ‘Northern’. We all have a spirit that makes us unique no matter where we are from.
With this in mind, I am preoccupied with the voices of our audiences. We would like and actively encourage as much texture in our auditoriums as we are trying to piece together on stage. No matter where you are from, what you may or may not have thought of theatre, Dickens, classical text before – we as a company are asking each of you, individually, to come and fill our seats and be with us. Share this story with us. Perhaps together, we will keep making it grow, from town to town, as we tour; re-discovering the writing, the people and this beautiful tapestry of voices, with each new audience.
Your voice is at once the most vulnerable and revealing thing about you – we would love to hear it and share ours with you…