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Saturday, 25 June 2016

"ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEATS..."

I want to share a story of #creativity, #courage, #inspiration, #motivation, #passion and #trust. I must immediately declare a parental interest, as my daughter Jeśka is one of the heroines of the story. But the tale is not so much about her as it is about what is possible when you simply say "Yes" to the way Life is. It is also the story of three young actors who formed a theatre company called Duckface, sourced a theatre, a script and put on a show from scratch in #London.

Earlier this year the three of them, Jeśka Pike, Nicholas Campbell and Emily Wyatt (Director), decided that they were over waiting for their "big break" and that it was time to take the acting bull by the horns. They formed their company, sourced a theatre and put out a call to playwright organisations for scripts. Of the 30-odd that they received, one was a brand new play by Donna Hoke, an award-winning New York playwright, who entrusted her new baby entitled "The Way it Is" to three actors whom she had neither met nor heard of. The Duckface trio unanimously agreed what a great piece of work it was, even though it had never before been stress-tested on the stage, and came to an agreement with Donna. Emily sourced some funding to help them hire a theatre, equip themselves, source their costumes and props, market the play and get the show on the road.


They recently completed a two week run in London, ending the run with full houses and massive acclaim from patrons, fellow actors and industry people. Remember, this was a brand new and completely unknown theatre company, playing a brand new and unknown piece. Some of the reviews on the TimeOut website included comments like: "An exceptional piece of theatre, brilliantly directed...a powerful, personal, provocative & profound play brewed-up by the talented Duckface actors group...Truly gripping play with a thought-provoking script. Wonderful performance by both actors - I couldn't take my eyes off the stage!...Daring, compelling...A chilling piece of theatre that'll have you on the edge of your seat! Beautifully played by two actors who expertly highlight some ugly truths of adult life" and so on.


Even the BBC weather presenter, Ben Rich, tweeted to his almost 3,000 followers: "A hugely intense hour of drama with 'The Way It Is'...@Nicki_Doug and @Jeskie_pie were just awesome. Catch it if you can."

On any basis the show was a huge success and I for one hope that it goes on to bigger theatres and greater acclaim. However, there is a bigger picture to the story. Save for a minuscule percentage of aspirant actors, Life has it that actors need to do their time, go to endless auditions and wait and hope that they will be picked for something and eventually get a decent break. That's The Way It Is: ask pretty much any actor who has made it and he or she will tell you about long hours as a waitron, running errands and doing menial work to pay the bills between acting jobs.

A couple of months ago Seth Godin blogged about picking oneself (as opposed to waiting for others to pick you). That's exactly what Duckface has done. Rather than hanging around and waiting for a break which might never come, they have backed themselves, taken a huge risk of unknown actors, putting on an untested play, in an unforgiving city and brutal industry and pulled it off. As a top London choreographer friend of ours wrote in an email to us and Jeśka after seeing the show: "She's got guts!" She would know what she's talking about.


One can't help feeling inspired and motivated by the self-faith and courageous spirit of the unknown actors of Duckface. My guess is they'll soon be known throughout their industry. Whatever happens, they know what they are capable of, and couldn't have known without trying it out. Yes, I'm a proud Dad, but I also feel inspired by the way these three actors have embraced Life as it is and lifted their own game to meet Life's game.

As for Donna Hoke, bless your heart for trusting the process and trusting Duckface with your creation. I don't think we've heard the end of it: in fact, I suspect this is only the beginning.




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