With technical rehearsals for Under A Cardboard Sea in full swing ahead of its 4 Aug debut, we caught up with Associate Director James Kent for a quick update on what’s to come.
Hello! I’m James Kent, Associate Director on Under A Cardboard Sea. I’m a Bristol Old Vic Young Company alumni and graduated from the Made In Bristol program in 2012. I currently make theatre with Bristol Old Vic, Bristol Old Vic Young Company and other theatre companies as an actor as well as a director.
As Associate Director on the show, my job is to help the two Co-Directors Lisa Gregan and Matt Grinter to make the show, written by Silva Semerciyan and the company, a reality. On a show of this scale it can mean many things, like working with actors on lines, groups of actors on choral scenes and helping to facilitate the rehearsals.
I feel very privileged to be the associate on such a huge project and to be working with both Lisa and Matt. I’ve worked with Lisa before on The Light Burns Blue and as a part of Young Company and not only is she hilarious and extremely clever, it’s exciting to make work with her as she is so ambitious and passionate. It’s my first time with Matt, but I had seen shows of his before and his writing and directing is so powerful and emotive that to be involved in a project with him is great. It also helps that he’s ridiculously comical too (sorry Lisa, the competition has stepped up).
Being in a room with the two directors and Brian (the Musical Director) and Silva (the Writer) has been so stimulating and dynamic. We’ve managed to overcome some huge obstacles, like making a machine that overlooks a whole city and a fire that burns down a theatre and somehow struggled with not having enough people despite the 100 strong cast. I think the main challenge now will be managing to keep it together around Lisa. As I already admitted (and in writing too!) she really is hilarious.
The cast play a huge part in making it possible to overcome the many obstacles that we’ve faced as it’s often them and not the creative team that have found the solution. I think this is what makes projects like these so special; the ownership that 100 Young Company members have over and what they bring to a show of this size. Not only are they performing, but they’ve also made and developed it into what feels like such an entertaining show.
The story is home to an enormous array of characters, but if I could be any of them, I think I’d like to be Benji, the rogue sailor. His journey from the seas to the theatre is exhilarating and warm, plus the relationships he strikes up on the way with the different characters are delightful.
The whole process has been a challenge unlike any other I’ve faced, but one that I would definitely do again without a second thought. The creatives, cast, band, producers, designers, parents and stage managers have really put in a huge amount of time, skill and dedication and I hope you enjoy what we’ve made.
Photography by Jack Offord.