The Kilburn Passion, by Suhayla El-Bushra, is a new commission for the Tricycle Theatre 19-25s Young Company Ensemble. It’s a passion play depicting the lives of the inhabitants of the community in Kilburn and how one event unites them.
I became involved with the Tricycle through IdeasTap. In 2013, I won a brief that provided me with the opportunity to perform at the Tricycle as part of Summer Snippets, a showcase of new writing. I was then invited back to audition for its young company and was accepted.
The notion of ‘ensemble’ lies at the heart of the Young Company and so it was vital that we, the cast, established ourselves as a community of creatives. We spent a term collectively developing our performance skills and Suhayla’s observations of us influenced the overall piece. The first table read cemented this experience as a unique shared opportunity, because Suhayla captured moments that occurred during our process that only the cast can share in. We’ve also been privileged to have her as a constant resource throughout the rehearsal process.
As with any production, each individual contributes to the smooth running of the show, but The Kilburn Passion demands a lot from its performers. It’s a fast-paced piece with an ensemble of 18 performing on a multi-level structure, so you need to be on top of your game. It’s not enough to know your own scenes, you need to know the transitions, the props you are responsible for and much more. With so many elements to consider it can be overwhelming, which is why the cast need to support each other, because if one person is out of place a domino effect occurs and has an impact on the course of the show.
Being part of a large cast also means you are expected to work independently, especially when it comes to character work, so you must be self-motivated! The style of the scenes play out like snapshots of the characters, which means there is a lot of detail to convey in a short amount of time. Ultimately, the preparation is a balancing act between setting a strong foundation by yourself, but also being flexible and open to suggestions from your director and colleagues. It can be challenging to maintain this balance but it also frees you up to experiment before making any final decisions.
One of the biggest benefits of being part of the Young Company is that you can absorb knowledge from the people around you, from the stage manager to the sound designer. You learn by osmosis, so watch how the people around you work. Even jotting down different vocal exercises or rehearsal techniques is useful for future reference.
I’m fortunate to have worked in a supportive environment with a talented group of creatives. A lot of hard work has gone into bringing The Kilburn Passion to fruition but the time has gone quickly. So my final piece of advice for any budding creatives is this: take the time out to appreciate the experience you are part of. Before curtain up, step back, breathe and allow yourself a moment to digest this experience, remember it and when on-stage, embrace it.
Naomi Joseph first performed at the Tricycle in 2013 as part of Summer Snippets: A Showcase of New Writing. She is proud to be a member of the Tricycle Young Company and is currently playing Carla in The Kilburn Passion.
The Tricycle Young Company will be taking over the theatre from 30 March to 5 April for the Tricycle Takeover Festival. For more information, visit the Tricycle’s website.