We were lucky enough to speak to two of the tyoung cast members performing in Belong as they prepared to open at The Arcola Theatre last week - they are performing again at The Lyric Hammersmith on 7&8 March. Tickets are available here.
CB: I’m here with a two of the cast members of Belong which is Clean Break’s young women’s company who will be opening at the Arcola this weekend. Could you introduce yourselves and tell me what your involvement with the production is?
S : I’m Sandrine, I’m an actor I play Esther
Ch: I’m Chelsea, I’m an actor, I play Lucy and the Head Teacher …. And a Security Guard … and Damian!
CB: Sandrine, how did you get involved with this?
S: I remember when we came up with the core of my character, we were just sitting down about two years ago and we said about my hair…. How short it was and stuff like that and somehow, about two years later became this character beautifully written by River and Carys. Its incredible, its been an incredible two years, I’ve been here from scratch all the way to this.
CB: And what about you Chelsea? How did you become involved?
Ch: I came here a couple of years ago to do a course, because I had an interest in acting, but now that I have such a big interest in it they emailed me and called me and asked if I would like to come down for an audition? But I missed the audition! And they still contacted me, so I came down and then that was it! The script just got put in front of me.
CB: Nice to be in demand! The play is touching on youth loneliness, that’s what you have been exploring as a company. Obviously you are yourselves young women in London - do you feel that this is an issue that affects you? That you have experienced yourselves?
S: Yes, for me in so many ways! I remember being 15 and not speaking any word of English and having to go to a school that had so many mixes of people that I’ve never seen. Different people from different ethnicities I have never even thought of, I literally had to sprint to learn English! I don’t know how I got through it!
CB: That must have been really something!
S: Oh it was a fight, I had to fight, I was frustrated because I couldn’t express anything. I spoke a different language from my family as well. I had been to several countries so I had spoken different languages, so it was just really confusing. When you ask a question in my language then I had to go back to translate it in my head. It was quite difficult. So it just came out as anger, just rage, because I couldn’t express how lonely I was.
CB: That must have been so frustrating.
S: Yes it was, but I had books, books definitely shaped me into who I am and turned that rage and I realised that it was more than just rage it was loneliness. So books really became my friends.
CB: And what about you Chelsea? Do you feel like that’s something that’s affected you too?
Ch: I feel like most of the characters, I can touch base with them really. Mix and blend, just a little bit of each, it’s real life. These things happen. The more we dig into the story ourselves as actors the more we are like “Oh my gosh!”.
CB: Do you feel you are learning about yourselves as you go?
CB: It must be quite an experience to go through together.
Ch: It is and it’s so challenging for me as well because I am playing characters that I’m like, just, “Oh my days”, that’s not me as a person. But me trying to be a different person as a character, I’m just like “Oh my gosh”. So I’ve literally thrown myself into the deep end here.
CB: Yes, but what an amazing challenge and potential to absolutely smash the game, its fantastic. And how do you guys feel about performing at two well respected London theatres?
Ch: Not thinking about it! Not thinking about it! I was calm, I was feeling alright until you mentioned that, now I’ve got butterflies.
CB: I’m so sorry!
S: I remember when they said it’s the Arcola, we just went “Ah yeah! It’s the Arcola” Because we were like – there’s no way, it’s the Arcola, it’s world renowned – people see incredible work there. Even to this day it’s not real.
Ch: Yeah when I heard the Arcola, I said “What?”
CB: Then you’re getting a transfer …
Ch: To the Lyric in Hammersmith!
CB: Which is another prestigious London stage, which is amazing! You’re being taken seriously as artists.
Ch: It’s nice, the nerves are real, but the nerves are good.
CB: It will give you energy.
S: That’s why everywhere, every environment I go to I keep saying “Come to Clean Break, come to Clean Break.” That’s why I come to Clean Break, because I get this kind of opportunity with this amazing script.
CB: Thank you both very much for speaking with me.