trade: in retrospect

By Sharon Duncan-Brewster

It’s Friday, Black Friday. Whilst actively choosing to ignore the consumeristic dark clouds hovering above millions of pockets today, I cannot escape a different type of cloud which seems to have drifted over my head. A cloud of sorrow, the type which reminds a performer that the play you’ve had so much fun making is yes, about to end. Already?!


Sharon Duncan-Brewster in rehearsals for trade. Photo by Leon Puplett.

We started rehearsals for trade six weeks ago. Written by debbie tucker green, the play covers the political and social effects of Female Sexual Tourism (a different kind of consumerism) on three very different women. I had known for some time that I would be working on this project and was really looking forward to doing it. I’d auditioned for the play when it debuted in 2006 but I wasn’t lucky enough to sail on that astonishing ship back then so, this time around, I was ecstatic about jumping aboard. My excitement increased threefold when I found out that I’d be working alongside the mighty forces that are Ayesha Antione and Jo Martin. Two actresses that I love and respect, who are guaranteed to put a sturdy wind into many a sail.

This production is actually a showcase for our extremely insightful director Bryony Shanahan. Lemme tell yuh sum’ting- remember her name, Bryony Shanahan. She is the rightful captain of our ship!

Bryony is the winner of the 2016 Genesis Future Directors Award. Allowing her to put on 10 performances at the Young Vic theatre, with a production team of her choosing and Amen, she chose well. With Fly Davis, Peter Rice, Seth Rook Williams and Bryony Fayers all becoming great team players and not forgetting the expertise of Sarah Lyndon and Lizzie Donaghy who have worked alongside us every step of the way. (Also with the support of Anna Cole, Daisy Heath and Iain Goosey) We all bravely embarked on a journey which has been an ‘absolute delight’ and I don’t use that term often.


Ayesha Antoine, Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Jo Martin in trade at the Young Vic. Photo by Ellie Kurttz.

When faced with debbie’s challenging yet utterly rewarding dialogue (you should’ve seen us on week one trying to get our heads around it). Bryony, never wavering, always positive and generous in her approach, gave us the confidence and room to bring our own influences to our characters whilst gently steering us towards her vision, that is now the production that so many people are still fighting to get a ticket to see. The show is sold out. It had been before we even started rehearsals and when extra tickets were added later, they too went very quickly.

With 3 shows now left to go, a reluctant countdown begins-

3: Friday (tonight’s) performance.
2: Saturday’s matinee performance.
1: Saturday evening’s Final Performance.

What a privilege it’s been to stand (at an angle) alongside friends old and new, throughout this whirlwind of a project. Maybe it’ll bring us all back together at some point, to resume this powerful production for a longer run? I’ll leave that to the powers that be… For now, I’ll optimistically say – until next time, no more black clouds of sorrow, just pure joy in the truth of knowing what it was to be on this voyage.

As I head out to Waterloo with my internal soundtrack streaming “… It’s off to work I go”, there is no precipitation as yet but there’s always a lickle sum’ting at the very end, isn’t there? If you’ve seen our production you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, in the words of all three characters- “Shame”.

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