Wings: 11 Questions with Nick Gasson

Nick Gasson is currently starring in Wings at the Young Vic. His character is struggling to rebuild his communication skills after experiencing aphasia – a condition that affects the brain and leads to problems with speech and language.

We caught up with Nick to ask him these 11 questions . . .

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 1. Can you describe your character in Wings in three words?

Recovering stroke victim

2. What can the audience expect from this production that’s different to anything else they are likely to have seen before?

Wings is an extra-sensory experience!

3. What’s the most exciting thing about being part of this Young Vic production?

Working with such an amazing team of actors and crew

4. Emily Stilson was a wing walker. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Going on the ‘tea-cups’ ride at the funfair!

4. How do you think this show will make audiences feel?

Apart from hugely impressed at Juliet Stevenson’s performance, I think they will feel like they have a better understanding of what goes on in the head of someone who’s had a major stroke

5. What has it been like working with Natalie Abrahami?

Wonderful. Her approach is always collaborative and the final results are finely detailed

6. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

Reading the papers!

7. What is your favourite play you’ve either seen, read or worked on?

There have been so many but in terms of taking part, playing the old tramp Davies in 3 tours of The Caretaker. Plays that really stunned me when I saw them include Bent and Angels in America, both at the National Theatre.

What was it that first got you interested in the theatre?

Writing and performing in play at primary school

8. What’s the funniest thing that happened to you recently?

I was in my local bar in Spain and Bobby Davro walked in. You have to be fairly old to know who he is, but he was a popular comedian / entertainer on TV in the 1980’s.

9. What’s the one thing you value most in life?

Got to be either health or the feeling of warm sun on your face

10. Who is your ultimate hero, and what would you say to them if you ever met them?

No longer with us: David Bowie. I’d say ‘Fancy a pint?’. Alive: Judi Dench. I’d say ‘Fancy a cuppa and a chat?’

11. If you could have been born in any era, which would it be and why?

I wish I’d been born in ’67 rather than ’57. So much changed for the better in those 10 years.

Wings runs at the Young Vic until 4 November. Juliet Stevenson stars as Emily, an aviator who suffers a stroke that destroys her sense of reality. Fragments of her life come together as she struggles to find her voice and sense of self.

Click here to book tickets from £10

 

11 Questions with the cast of My Name is Rachel Corrie | Erin Doherty

Erin Doherty plays Rachel Corrie in this year’s JMK production My Name is Rachel Corrie. She has received plenty of critical praise with The Guardian describing Erin’s portrayal as “one of the year’s great discoveries with a stunning performance” (★★★★). So without further ado, it’s over to the lady herself…

1. Can you describe your character in My Name is Rachel Corrie in three words?

Determined, quick, hopeful

2. What’s the most exciting thing about being part of this Young Vic production?

The opportunity to tell Rachel’s story

3. How do you think this show will make audiences feel?

(I hope) Charged

4. Did you do anything unusual to prepare for this role?

We went to Israel and Palestine. We wouldn’t have been able to make this production without it.

5. What was it like working with JMK Award winner Josh Roche?

Fantastic. Collaborative. Enriching.

6. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

For this project: Listening to Mozart, lying on the floor of my dressing room.

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Erin Doherty in My Name is Rachel Corrie. Photo by Ellie Kurrtz.

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Learn to live off little so you can continue doing what excites you.

8. Who is your ultimate hero and what would you say to them if you ever met them?

Well I met Juliet Stevenson last Saturday – she’s a huge hero, a superhero, I think I managed to tell her she’s great…not much else came out.

9. What is your favourite play you’ve seen, read or worked on? 

Mercury Fur, directed by Ned Bennett at the Trafalgar Studios in 2012 – blew my brains out.

10. What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud? 

A phone conversation with my sister, Grace.

11. Confession time. This is a safe space: tell us something you’ve never told anyone before.

I used to think my cat was my twin. Yes. I really did.

My Name is Rachel Corrie is currently sold out, but you can queue for day seats or check the Young Vic website for returns (it might be your lucky day) to catch Erin doing what she does best (10 minutes after lying on the floor listening to Mozart).

Aphasia: Meet Nick Cann

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Nick Cann was chief executive of the Institute of Financial Planning when a stroke left him with severe aphasia.

Nick has been kind enough to share some of his experience of aphasia with us to raise awareness of this complex communication and language disorder. 

I was lecturing CFP students in Northampton when I collapsed. An ambulance was called and I was rushed to Northampton hospital.  My wife Jo and children were contacted and later learnt that I had suffered a major stroke which had affected the left-hand side of my brain. When I was admitted to hospital I had a scan of my brain and thrombalised. This was so important with my recovery as it helps to improve blood flow to the brain. I don’t remember much about the day of my stroke but from what I have been told my face dropped, my speech became slurry and I collapsed.

The stroke affected the right hand side of my body having no feeling or movement at all. I was moved to Oxford John Radcliffe specialist hospital due to concerns that swelling in my brain was not decreasing and operation may need to be performed. Luckily for me the swelling stabilised and I did not need to have surgery. The day after my family and close friends came up to visit. I found this very difficult as I could not communicate with my children Jemma 18, Rhys 16, Rebecca 15.

“Initially I couldn’t even say or write my name.”

Due to the stroke I suffer with aphasia and dyspraxia and although I can now read and write most things I really struggled with this, so reading newspapers, Facebook and Twitter became very frustrating and difficult. I couldn’t for weeks and weeks and had confusion with yes and no. Initially I couldn’t even say or write my name. I started saying words and using photos to help me say family and friends names.

nick1When I was home, after 7 weeks in hospital, I began to recover quicker although my speech was still a massive issue. APP’s (www.tactustherapy.com) I went to speech therapy classes weekly and speech improved although even now 4.5 years on I still struggle with words due to my dyspraxia and Aphasia

 

It has been a hard 4.5 years of dedication and determination but every day I am improving and will continue to do so with the support of the Stroke Association Wales, friends and family.

This blog was published in association with the Stroke Association. Click here to find out more and donate to support their work.


Wings is running at the Young Vic until 4 Nov. Emily, a fiercely independent aviator and wing walker, suffers a stroke that destroys her sense of reality.

Fragments of her life come together as she struggles to find her voice and her self.

The Jungle Safe Space performance

Last year we introduced our first set of inclusive performances.  These included a Safe Space performance for those who have experienced mental health problems, a dementia friendly performance and a ‘babes in arms’ performance.  All of these were highly successful and rewarding.

We are pleased to offer a new inclusive performance.  Like the previous events, it is open to all audience members and has been created in partnership with the show’s creative and technical teams.

The Young Vic Safe Space performance of The Jungle particularly welcomes people who have experienced trauma, along with their families, friends, carers, as well as anyone who feels this relaxed atmosphere would be beneficial to them. It will be on 3 January at 2.30pm.

Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, the co-founders of Good Chance Theatre, originally conceived their dome in Calais as a place for people to share their highly traumatic experience and to escape or, if they chose to, to confront the situations they found themselves in. The Jungle Safe Space performance is a continuation of this vision and has been developed through conversations with In Place of War and Freedom from Torture.

There will be a dedicated ‘break-out’ room outside of the auditorium available throughout. During the performance, it will be possible to come and go as you wish. For example, it might be helpful to take some time out to relax in the ‘break-out’ room or bar, use the bathroom or get some fresh air outside.

There are a selection of tickets available to buy online but if you require something more specific or want to talk through your seating options, just contact the Welcome Team via email welcometeam@youngvic.org or give them a call 020 7922 2922.

For the past thirteen years, In Place of War has worked with creative communities in some of the most challenging contexts in the world. In Place of War is a support system for community artistic, creative and cultural organisations in places of conflict, revolution and areas suffering the consequences of conflict. Find out more about their work.

Freedom from Torture provides counselling, group therapy and ongoing support for survivors of torture in the UK, tailoring the support they offer to suit each person. Read about their projects, campaigns and fundraising work.

For a full list of all our upcoming accessible performances, visit our Access for All page.  If you’re coming to see a show and have specific access requirements, please contact us in advance so that we can make your visit as enjoyable as possible. For more information please call us on 020 7922 2922 (Textphone 18001 020 7922 2922).

Wings: 11 Questions with Kelle Bryan

Kelle Bryan is currently starring in Wings at the Young Vic. Her character Billy is struggling to rebuild her communication skills after experiencing aphasia – a condition that affects the brain and leads to problems with speech and language.

Kelle’s acting credits include The Exonerated (Charing Cross Theatre), Torn (Arcola Theatre) and My Fair Lady (Manchester Palace) but she is perhaps best known as a member of the girl group Eternal.

We caught up with Kelle to pick her brains. Check our her 11 questions below . . .

Kelle Bryan in Wings at the Young Vic theatre. Photography by Johan Persson.

 1. Can you describe your character in Wings in three words?

Feisty, fun and vulnerable.

2. What’s the most exciting thing about being part of this Young Vic production?

I love the hubbub of the central location, the history of the theatre and credibility of the venue. We’ve got an amazing cast, crew and creative team.

3. Emily Stilson was a wing walker. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

I’ve done a few! Running the London Marathon, swimming with dolphins, being on Celebrity Love Island… deep sea fishing…

4. How do you think this show will make audiences feel?

I think you’ll leave with a much better understanding of aphasia from the patients perspective but you’ll also have a good laugh at the same time.

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Kelle in rehearsal for Wings. Photo by Johan Persson.

5. What has it been like working with Natalie Abrahami?

Natalie gives great notes that can uniquely change your whole performance. Quietly confident – she leads from a place of grace.

6. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

I’m usually found doing lovely little stretches, running through my lines and listening to some great retro tunes. You’ll hear me singing and dancing with the girls in the dressing room!

7. What is your favourite play you’ve either seen, read or worked on?

I was in a play called ‘Torn‘ at the Arcola. I just loved the role and the creative process.

8. What’s the funniest thing that happened to you recently?

There sometimes little mishaps in the show which have us in stitches.

9. What’s the one thing you value most in life?

My faith in God, the people He gave me to share it with – my two children and my amazing family. After the year I’ve had they have really been my inspiration.

10. Who is your ultimate hero, and what would you say to them if you ever met them?

I would love to meet Oprah Winfrey – I have so many questions…. “Who are you when the lights and cameras are off?”. I think she’s exactly the same.

11. If you could have been born in any era, which would it be and why?

I wouldn’t choose an era in history as is taken us so long to progress as a society. I’d probably stick to right now.

Wings runs at the Young Vic until 4 November. Juliet Stevenson stars as Emily, an aviator who suffers a stroke that destroys her sense of reality. Fragments of her life come together as she struggles to find her voice and sense of self.

Click here to book tickets from £10

★★★★ “Erin Doherty emerges as one of the year’s great discoveries” | My Name is Rachel Corrie reviews

The reviews are rolling in for My Name is Rachel Corrie, directed by JMK Award winner Josh Roche and starring Erin Doherty as Rachel Corrie.

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Erin Doherty as Rachel Corrie in My Name is Rachel Corrie. Photo by Ellie Kurrtz.

★★★★
“Erin Doherty emerges as one of the year’s great discoveries with a stunning performance” 

The Guardian | Read the full review

★★★★ “Erin Doherty is riveting as Corrie…humorous and humanising” 
The Stage | Read the full review

★★★★ “Josh Roche’s brilliant staging” 
WhatsOnStage | Read the full review

Erin Doherty in My Name is Rachel Corrie at the Young Vic. Photo by Ellie Kurrtz (4).JPG

Erin Doherty as Rachel Corrie in My Name is Rachel Corrie. Photo by Ellie Kurrtz.

My Name is Rachel Corrie runs in the Clare until 26 Oct with best availability on 25 Oct matinee. Find out more about the show and read what audiences are saying so far in our Storify round-up.

Erin Doherty in My Name is Rachel Corrie at the Young Vic. Photo by Ellie Kurrtz (6).JPG

Erin Doherty as Rachel Corrie in My Name is Rachel Corrie. Photo by Ellie Kurrtz.

THE JMK AWARD

James Menzies-Kitchin was a theatre director of thrilling promise. The JMK Trust was founded in his memory to give practical learning opportunities to young theatre directors of similar ability and vision. The JMK Award allows one such director a year to stage their own production of a classic text.

The JMK Award 2017 is kindly supported by Philip Hooker, The Arts Patrons Trust, The Martin Bowley Charitable Trust, The Garrick Charitable Trust, The Fidelio Charitable Trust, the Young Vic and all our individual supporters. Patrons: Dame Judi Dench, Baroness Howe, Sir Ian McKellen and Tom Morris OBE (Founding Chair) Registered Charity No. 295080

www.jmktrust.org

Reflecting on Zimbabwe | Unified Women

Unified Women artwork. Orange background with silhouettes of two young women standing outside holding hands.

Written 2,500 years ago by Aeschylus The Suppliant Women is one of the world’s oldest plays and yet speaks to us through the ages with startling resonance. Seven young women aged between 18-25 from Lambeth and Southwark travelled to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe this September working in response to Ramin Gray’s production, with the YV Taking Part team and director, Sasha Milavic Davies. Zimbabwean writer, Noma Damasane, aka. Lady Tshawe worked with the group to produce a piece of work which reflected the shared experiences across the two groups of women, regardless of their geography or local cultures.

We asked some of our group of women to document their “once-in-a-lifetime experience”, sharing their observations and best moments from their cultural exchange which started with one forgotten passport 😉

Monique takes it from here…

The hardest thing about travelling for me is packing, I can do it quickly but I’m never sure I’ve packed the right things. However, whether your top to bottoms ratio is right means nothing if one forgets to pack the most important item: the passport. Yes ladies and gentlemen I forgot my passport! My mother would be so ashamed.

We arrived in Bulawayo to be greeted by the warm sun of Zimbabwe, Josh of the Nhimbe Trust and two of our cast mates, Sta and Musa, with big smiles. 

After being welcomed by the lovely Noma (our writer) we were treated to an amazing performance Khaya Arts plus the coolest band I’ve ever seen, The Afro Queens. Don’t think that just because we were guests and had been travelling for a whole day we could just sit back and enjoy the show. No! We formed a circle and it was dance time. I’m proud to say I have a really good sense of rhythm and I can throw it down on any given night but the Zim Girls brought something completely different to the table. The way they and the performers of Khaya Arts move is incredible! I have to learn.


Anasthasia from our London group also talked about the huge welcome they received and the early experiences in Bulawayo and further afield… 

My official introduction to the Zimbabwean girls felt like a huge party where the UK girls and I were the guests of honour. We were greeted with such amazing performances, with the most energetic being an amazing stomp dance act by Khaya arts showing us the natural rhythm that the Zimbabweans had to offer. With the food being similar to the African food I had back in the UK, Zimbabwe started to feel a little more like home.

Cultural learning was a key part of this experience where I learnt about both new and old cultural traditions from the Zimbabwean girls, museums, art galleries and heritage sites. There was even a talk by Pathisa Nyathi, one of the most respected historians in Zimbabwe, about the spirituality of the Shona and Ndebele people as well as traditions surrounding marriage; a talk which almost felt like an exact mimic of Danaus speech to his daughters on the same topic. One line that really stood out for me from Pathisa’s speech was “As it is above, so is below”.  It summarises African spirituality and what made an African African; the conservation of the human race and life on earth. This powerful ancient mission of African people makes me want to understand more about my own culture and heritage before colonisation; to understand the rich history of my nation.

Looking back on how Sasha and Noma developed their work, Monique reflected on how it helped her find her own voice…

Last week we shared with each other our own personal stories, whether they were about us or women we knew; we bared parts of ourselves that we probably didn’t expect. To say it was emotional is an understatement. I feel privileged to have heard those stories and I trust these women with the sharing of mine.

Probably because of the gravity of such a moment, I didn’t think about how it relates to our project. Turns out Sasha and Noma intended to use some of our experiences in our performance, in other words, mine. I was shocked. I never felt my story was worth telling in the first place compared to the other girls, so for Sasha to use it and ask me to direct a devised piece about it was pretty mind blowing. It was difficult to do. Not only to direct my peers but to dissect my story and give it over to others is a challenge but it was made easier because the story was not personal to the others, so they could offer suggestions and build the piece with me with no holding back. It also helped that I had Tamoy play me and having Anasthasia play my mum was inspired casting, she made me both laugh and cry.

I’m grateful to have worked on my story in that way. It taught that me that even little old me has something worth saying.

Anastasia later described how strong the bonds were between the group was after less than two weeks spent working together…

Departing from the Zimbabwean team was hard and upsetting but it made me realise just how strong the unity between the UK and Zimbabwean group was. Although we physically left the country, we weren’t truly saying goodbye. I like to think that no amount of land, sea or time can break apart the sisterhood made from two very different cultures of unified women formed this summer in 2017.

We shared some of the Unified Women performance in Bulwayo on the Young Vic’s instagram account. Here’s a short snippet of the sharing from our Insta story…

Keep an eye out for YV Taking Part sharing a video of the Unified Women project, and for their future workshops and productions on the YV’s Instagram and Snapchat as well as the YV Taking Part twitter.

The Unified Women project is supported by the British Council, Zimbabwe.
Many thanks to Josh, the Nhimbe Trust and our project partners, Africalia, Youth Contact Centre and Bluez Café
 for hosting us and making the trip so memorable.