Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It appears to be this sentiment that has been the driving force behind the the Guardian and the Royal Court’s decision to co-release a series of online state-of-the-nation microplays. The coupling of journalism and theatre is a move to humanise the statistics that are routinely quoted but rarely truly comprehended in articles.
The first microplay explores the neglectful and seemingly merciless attitude of the coalition government towards food poverty, with Katherine Parkinson playing out Edwina Currie’s unforgiving sentiments earlier this year. The feeling that you experience at the end of the play will linger far longer than reading the fact that “food prices have soared by 43.5% in the past eight years while the disposable annual income of the poorest 20% fell by an average of £936 over the same period.” The numbers are shocking, however, they are forgettable when compared to excruciatingly watching Parkinson trying to make a substantial meal out of a can of tomato soup, a tin of fish and no electricity.
Director Carrie Cracknell wrote: “Why is it more useful for it to be a drama than a well-researched, well-written article? As my work develops, I am increasingly interested in the ways in which stories can open out and shine light on our day-to-day realities and perhaps this way hit you in the heart as well as the mind.”
Meanwhile, at the National Theatre, Meera Syal will be appearing in the forthcoming production of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, which depicts the appalling reality of living in a Mumbai slum. Echoing Cracknell in an interview for the Telegraph, Syal agreed that “powerful storytelling has a better chance of thwacking people in the solar plexus. People are more likely to want to effect change if they are affected emotionally rather than intellectually. A good play can get to a part of you that a thousand political speeches might not.” Consequently, the actor has a huge responsibility – to not only make you feel but also inhabit a world that is so distant from your own.
Audition Doctor is where you learn to create such worlds organically and gradually. Both professional actors and applicants for drama school have found Audition Doctor sessions to have been indispensable. Tilly’s methods mean that any ego or self-consciousness that students feel are easily put aside in favour of telling the truth of the story.
Actors come to Audition Doctor for help with both stage and screen acting, recognising the need to be familiar with as many mediums as possible. Versatility has always been essential in order to make a living in the industry. The online microplay, which Cracknell describes as a “new adventure where theatre meets film in an inescapably theatrical setting”, will undoubtedly have its own unique demands. However, what remains constant is the actor’s commitment to be true and to be real. At Audition Doctor, all students give performances that cost them. This vulnerability and daringness to portray what it is to be fallibly human is what forces an audience to feel. Consequently, students who come to Audition Doctor often end up unforgettable.