Actors Bring The Reality Of Homelessness In Norfolk To Life

A host of Norfolk actors have been cast in James McDermott’s original verbatim play, Street Life which premieres at Norwich Theatre Royal’s Stage Two on February 27-28 as part of its latest Creative Matters season which focuses on Living With Homelessness.

The play is based on the experiences of local charities working with the homeless and on interviews conducted with members of Norwich’s homeless community. It is penned by Norfolk playwright James McDermott (Rubber Ring) and directed by Darren and Laila France.

James said it is a project close to his creative hearts. He explained: “I’m always drawn to representing underrepresented lives on stage be that gay people in Norfolk, or homeless people. I wanted to put their voices on stages where we’re used to seeing middle class characters or Kings and Queens, to suggest that homeless people can be just as poetic, or heroic, or as brave, as those Kings and Queens we’re used to seeing on stage.”

The casting process was also intense because very adaptable actors were needed. James said: “Because actors will be multi-rolling, we’re going to need actors who feel comfortable playing lots of different ages, working in lots of different accents, lots of different voices, so we’re looking for actors who can play young and old characters… just versatile actors who are comfortable working in new ways.”

The first of these versatile actors is Shem Jacobs . Shem (above) is a third year Drama student at the University of East Anglia. His credits include most recently playing Azdak in The Caucasian Chalk Circle at the UEA Drama Studio and appearing in Lark Rise to Candleford at the Sewell Barn Theatre.

Joining Shem is Amy Lunn. Amy (above) is a West Norfolk based actor who has recently completed her two year acting diploma at Drama Studio London. Amy has worked extensively on a variety of professional productions including most recently the role of Figaro in Pinocchio with Purple Dreams productions.

Adam Ireson, Musical Theatre trained actor, also joins the cast. Adam (above) has been working on many musical and pantomime productions over the past five years after graduating from the MTA, as well as performing with local Norwich based company Mixed Voice and appeared in Dick Whittington over Christmas at the Theatre Royal, Windsor.

With previous experience in performing at Stage Two, Heather Whatley, a member of the Norwich Theatre Royal Community Choir and Silver Stage Company, has also been cast. Heather (above) is also currently rehearsing for the Silver Stage production Once a Catholic which examines the retrospective values of 1950’s convent schools and female adolescence; a play in which Heather will also be playing multiple characters.

And finally amateur actor and singer Nicole Lois Wilkinson completes the cast. With some previous experience of homelessness herself, Nicole (above) is originally from London where she was involved in performing in the alternative arts scene. This then took her to Spain for 14 years where she performed in pantomime and the free festival movement. Upon moving to Norwich she has been involved in several productions with The Common Lot Theatre Company. Street Life is just one part of the latest Creative Matters season which aims to explore topical issues creatively in a safe space.

Sponsored by Broadland Housing Group, the homelessness season will see Norwich Theatre Royal work with a range of community partners, health and support organisations, artists and arts organisations which also include YMCA Norwich and St Martin’s Housing