Sunday, 25 November 2012

Week Two: Puckish Insights from Emily Jane Kerr

Hello and welcome back to the Grassroots blog! We've finished our second week of rehearsals and what a great week we've had! We asked ensemble member Emily Jane Kerr to let you into her thoughts on what's been happening!


Emily Jane Kerr in rehearsals for The Tempest as Stephano

My body is aching. My mind is full. And those lines still won’t quite stay in my head. It is most definitely week two of rehearsals. Still in that honeymoon period that will disappear come Wednesday morning when we return for week three. That dreaded week three lull. But enough about that.

Dream is looking marvellous. This week has been joy after joy as everyone’s characters in the Dream have very nearly come to full blown three-dimensional life. Bottom, Quince and the Mechanicals are spectacularly bad actors. (The characters I mean. The chaps playing the mechanicals are fabulous. And rather funny). The lovers are truthful, passionate and hilarious in equal measure. Titania and Oberon are gloriously magical. But Puck? That’s not for me to say. I most definitely struggle with Puck. But she’s coming. How do I get that sense of magical mischievousness combined with the possibility of great evil? It’s a challenge. I’m definitely not there yet but hopefully I will be by the performances. I just hope my costume arrives on time.

One thing that has occurred to me is how lucky I am to be surrounded by such wonderful actors, who not only are talented, but also are intelligent, imaginative and have points of view. It is glorious to spend time with these people and to see everyone else’s enjoyment in Shakespeare’s language. It’s also a joy to see each character and person blossom. Well done Grassroots for getting a fab
group together!

I keep having a, what I like to call, ‘fan moment’ about Shakespeare, about one particular piece of text. It genuinely makes me tingle every single time I say his words.

‘If we shadows have offended
Think but this and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear…’

The beauty of Shakespeare’s language really gets into my heart and soul at that point in the play and I think it’s a perfect end to the show. Also, it says a great deal about theatre. I really hope it makes you tingle too.


Grassroots Shakespeare London's Christmas rep season of The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream runs at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre from 11th December 2012 - 5th January 2013.

Tickets are available from or, who have a £10 offer on until the end of November.

For more details -


Emily Jane Kerr
Stephano (The Tempest) & Puck (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
Emily Jane Kerr is an actress from Hertfordshire. She graduated from Central School of Speech and Drama in 2010. Since graduating she has been performing on stage and screen, and has recently turned her hand to writing (Shakepeare for Breakfast 2012 – C Theatre). Emily has performed in many and varied venues, including Shakespeare’s Globe, Hampstead Theatre and The Arts Theatre. Recent credits include Nurse in Shakespeare for Breakfast 2012 (C Theatre), Julia in Waiting for Space (Trafalgar Studios) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Young Shakespeare Company). Grassroots is a fabulous company and Emily is excited to be working with wonderful individuals who love Shakespeare as much as her!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Week One: A View from Kane Surry

Hello and welcome to the first blog post from Grassroots Shakespeare London's rehearsals for their exciting Christmas rep season at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre. We got the down low from our super ensemble member Kane Surry on his thoughts after week one in the rehearsal room!


Kane in rehearsals as Antonio for Grassroots Shakespeare 
London's production of The Tempest

When I think of the word 'devising', I always think back to my days in GCSE Drama where I used to spend countless hours with my classmates trying to make 'edgy' theatre. What this meant is that we struggled through apathy and passive aggression to make plays set on plastic chairs, talking about issues like drugs and domestic violence (issues we knew little about) accompanied by deep and hard hitting music like Massive Attack's Teardrop or Imogen Heap's Hide and Seek. In other words, I used to cringe, so I was nervous on day one to start this process with Grassroots.

But first week in and these fears are dispelled; every actor that walked through the door of The Lion and Unicorn Theatre arrived with a smile, the drive to work, most lines learnt and a cup of coffee. It really was a comforting sight.

From there we talked through ideas to raise the company's already exciting profile and we all chipped in with ideas and respectfully listened. I remember sitting there, even in that first hour, thinking that I was with people who were open-minded and hungry for the company to succeed. 

But then came the real test, the part of the day we'd all been dreading, the part that displayed how much work we had done, the part that tested our lines and demonstrated whether we had what it took to transform into Shakespeare's characters: it was the first stagger-through of A Midsummer Night's Dream! I won't lie, I was terrified.

What happened? Well, to start, there was no judgement on work or characters but only a joy in seeing the seeds of how the play may work. And of course it fell flat on its face a few times and lines went all over the place, I think I walked in to the wrong scene more than once, but what was great is that we got up without ego or fear and we just tried out what we wanted to. 

Kane as Antonio with Siobhan Daly as Sebastian in  
rehearsals for The Tempest

From there came discussion, what we liked and what we didn't. Without a director, it's easy to fall into a trap of talking in circles for hours with no resolve but we knew our time constraints early on and we work fast and collectively to make each scene work. And all this goes for The Tempest too; seeing what people have to offer, I'm not worried.

The Tempest, heavier than Dream, has already started to become more fluid and I really think this is down to the cast feeling more confident with their characters. For me personally, I've found it so helpful to always have people to call on when I'm struggling on what to do with text or understanding the meaning of this complicated language and verse.

It's been a great first week, full or laughter and ideas and in these forthcoming weeks, we are focusing taking this fun and energy and making sure that the we offer Shakespeare at its best, accessible to its audience.

One final thing before is sign off is that my abs have never hurt more as the Mighty Boris keeps us in shape and warmed up to start our days.

Bring on another week!

Kane in rehearsals for The Tempest as Antonio

Kane Surry
Lysander (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
Antonio (The Tempest)
Kane Surry
Lysander (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
Antonio (The Tempest)

Kane has just graduated from the BA Acting course at Central School of Speech and Drama where he played Hupfer in On The Razzle, Lee in Motortown and Bobbie Torbet in Scenes From The Big Picture. He is delighted to be tackling Shakespeare as his first professional play.
Kane Surry
Lysander (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
Antonio (The Tempest) has just graduated from the BA Acting course at Central School of Speech and Drama where he played Hupfer in On The Razzle, Lee in Motortown and Bobbie Torbet in Scenes From The Big Picture. He is delighted to be tackling Shakespeare as his first professional play.