I’m Not Jesus Christ production photos

All photos by Jana Hlavova.

Team #ImNotJesus

If there’s anything I love more than the rehearsal period (and I do love rehearsal time) it’s the pleasure that comes from having visitors pop in, and watching members of the creative team starting to interact with the show as it evolves. However much of a pro you think you are, having someone who’s a relative stranger to the process say ‘oh, it looks really good’ can be just the thing to put a spring in your step and buoy you.

That said, I always hate how as the process involves you have less and less time for members of the creative and technical team. It seems perverse that as your time decreases, the more important it would be to have the sort of in-depth conversations that characterised the pre-production period. I’m very lucky that my regular collaborators are used to the inarticulate shambles I become in the last week of rehearsals – it’s the newbies I feel sorry for. I’ve been blessed to work with a new set, lighting designer and vocal coach on this production and it’s important to make them feel welcome and valued so I can’t help feel guilty at the split of focus. You want to be as warm and as welcoming as possible – everything to everyone – but sometimes that’s just not possible.

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With that in mind had an excellent bank holiday Sunday with the tech and creative team, attempting (and failing) to do some woodwork and eating some of the finest homemade Victoria Sponge this side of a bake-off finale (courtesy of Stage Manager Remi Bruno Smith). Very happy to go into the last week of rehearsal with such a great team and such awesome baked goods.

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Romanian TV news report

You probably already know that I’m not Jesus Christ is a darkly humorous true tale about 11-year old Mihai, raised by his mother to believe he is the Second Coming. We are now revealing a TV clip from 2007 that served as a main inspiration for Maria Manolescu to transform this story into theatre show.

Playwright Maria Manolescu says “I was attracted to the true event that inspired the play because, although extreme and unusual, it outlines a universal peril: casting our children in the role of redeemers of our own anguish or sins.”

The Eloquence of Action

by Melissa Dunne

There’s a meme that’s been doing the rounds of an iceberg peeking out through some water. The top is labelled ‘the performance’ whereas he cavernous, jutting and substantially larger part of the iceberg hidden by the water is labelled ‘the preparation.’

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, especially in the context of directing I’m Not Jesus Christ. As I mentioned in my last blog, I first read the play over three and a half years ago and it took me until January this year to confirm a venue. Now, obviously I didn’t make the business of trying to find a venue a full-time job. I had other things in my life, work, family, watching Game of Thrones and trying to have well conditioned hair (I’ve since discovered argan oil it’s all good.) That said, if you’d told me when I first read it that it would take this long I don’t think I would have believed you. In fact, when people congratulate me on the show I am tempted to simply hand them a list of all the venues that turned it down or simply didn’t respond to my emails (I’m not very good at compliments – can you tell?)

When you choose to direct a play, you make yourself vulnerable. Maybe not the same way that actors do in performance, but when you say you want to direct something (especially a new play) you are tying your flag to the mast of a ship that may never set sail. And all the while, you’re questioning if you made the right decision. This is why finding the right venue for the play you wish to direct can be so fraught with anxiety.

The entire time I was struggling to find a venue all I could think was ‘if I’m finding it this difficult I can’t imagine how difficult a director just starting out must find it.’

People talk a lot about lack of diversity in the arts but fail emphasise how much inequality exists at the grassroots. Larger institutions come under a lot of flack for being unrepresentative (quite rightly) but if emerging artists don’t have access to opportunities to cut their teeth and learn their craft, to make work they are passionate about, how are they able to come to the attention to these institutions?

I have (again, quite rightly) been criticised for paying the artists I work with poorly. It’s not something I’m proud of but, I’m a working class person trying to cut my teeth as a director in London. It takes all my strength of will to fill out an ACE form (in truth, my producers largely do this as I stare into the abyss and sort of help a little bit), I don’t know any rich people and in truth, wouldn’t know what to do with an investor if I met one.

So I’m left with a conundrum. If I don’t make work, am I actually helping to perpetuate an elitist system? Or am I just using that argument as a way to more comfortably exploit people to further my own ends?

Answers on the back of a postcard.

Cast announced!

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We are thrilled to announce our fabulous cast: 

Izabella Urbanowicz (Truth and Reconciliation, The Royal Court, Titanic, ITV)

Andrei Costin (Inkheart, HOME Manchester, The Kite Runner, Nottingham Playhouse/Liverpool Playhouse)

Sharon Duffy (Towards a Standard Drop, Papercut Theatre)

Maria Alexe (A Leap of Faith, Arcola Theatre)