Monday, 11 September 2017

Full cast for the world première production of Stephanie Martin’s JOY at Theatre Royal Stratford East

Clamour Theatre Company today announces the full cast for the world première production of Stephanie Martin’s Joy. A coming of age story about a young woman with Down’s syndrome, exploring family, friendship, control and freedom, performed by a company of seven featuring three actors with learning disabilities. A play to expose the limitations placed upon those with learning disabilities and, more importantly to celebrate and demand the right of everyone to have the life they want. Imogen Roberts who will lead the company in the role of Joy and, making their professional stage debuts, are Deen Hallissey in the role of Paul and Stephanie Newman as Mabel. Joining them on stage will be Rachael Bright (Mary), Kate Lynn Evans (Sue), EJ Martin (Maud) and Danny Scheinnman (John). The production opens in Gerry’s Studio at Theatre Royal Stratford East on 26 October, with previews from 24 October, and runs until 4 November.

“I’m so bored of people telling me what to do. I’m okay on my own. Everyone wants to wrap me up and tell me what to do and how to feel. I’m either a pet or I’m ignored. You know how people look at me in the street. Or don’t look at me. You know what I hate the most? I open my mouth to say something and before I’ve even said anything I can see people ready to say “no”, to shake their heads. Disability is a shit word, I’m not using it anymore. So, I’ve decided, I am not a pet. I am just me. And I love being me.”

Directed by Melanie Fullbrook, this production tells the tale of Joy, who has Down’s syndrome and who is getting older and is ready to go everywhere and do everything, encouraged in this by her new friend Sue. Joy likes art club, romantic films, hanging out with her boyfriend, her part-time job at the pub and getting drunk with her sister. Joy’s Dad just want to keep her safe. The world’s a dangerous place, after all. Joy’s working on a project for college, about people like her in London in 1871. In her day-dreams she sees two Victorians sisters, who risk everything, travelling across an angry and hostile city, determined to reach safety, freedom and a new home.

Stephanie said today “Joy, as a character and a story, is an amalgamation of three inspiring women I’ve met who would identify as having learning disabilities yet display a quiet no-nonsense determination to getting on with life. It is also inspired by a fourth woman who showed simple, quiet compassion, kindness and friendship. If everyone was as kind as this woman the world would be a different and better place. Although Joy, it’s characters and its narrative are entirely fictional, the love, kindness, friendships and determination of the real women are at its core.”

Joy is a story of family, friendship, freedom and control; a play that celebrates the differences and similarities that exist within all of us. 

Stephanie Martin is a writer and theatre maker with an interest in making work which explores new perspectives, voices and stories from the margins. Current theatre projects include Alkaline (Park Theatre workshop September 2017) and Halbwelt Kultur (Jermyn Street Theatre). Further credits include Bridle (Camden People’s Theatre/King’s Head) and Bathsheba (Old Red Lion).

Rachael Bright plays Mary and is best known for playing Poppy Meadow in EastEnders. For theatre her credits include, A Murder is Announced (UK tour). Other television credits include Filth and Fury; and for film, Red Balloon and Bus Stop Kisser and the forthcoming Milk and Honey.

Imogen Roberts plays Joy. Roberts is a recent graduate of Central School of Speech and Drama and has worked extensively on productions with Access All Areas. Recent theatre credits include Boy (Almeida Theatre) and Annie (Hackney Shed). For film her credits include, The Sense of an Ending. 

Stephanie Newman plays Mabel. This is her professional stage debut since graduating in 2016 from Central School of Speech and Drama.

Deen Hallisey plays Paul. He will be making his professional stage debut since graduating from Central School of Speech and Drama in 2016.

EJ Martin plays Maud. Her recent theatre credits include Birthday Suit (Old Red Lion Theatre), A Room With A View (Theatre Royal Bath and UK tour), The Last Tycoon and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Arts Theatre), Phoebe (King’s Head), In Lipstick (Arcola Theatre), Blood-Crossed (Tabard Theatre), Lomography (Criterion Theatre), Clap Hands(Hackney Showroom), The Cow Play (Rosemary Branch Theatre), Should I Stay Or Should I Go (Roundhouse), Constance And Sinestra (Cpt And Latitude Festival), Seeing Double(Pleasance), Happy Birthday Wanda June (Old Red Lion), King Lear (Rose Theatre Kingston). Film credits include Allied.

Kate Lynn Evans plays Sue. Recent theatre credits include Playing For Time (Sheffield Crucible), Helver’s Night (York Theatre Royal), The Handyman (Chichester Festival Theatre), Getting On (West Yorkshire Playhouse), The Brave (Bush Theatre), Uncle Vanya, The Masterbuilder, Richard II, Top Girls, Miss Julie, The Happiest Days Of Your Life (Bristol Old Vic) and Robeson (Young Vic). For television her credits include Messiah, Murphy’s Law, Poirot and Sugar Rush. 

Danny Scheinmann plays John. Recent theatre credits include: Playing for Time (Sheffield Crucible), Slave (The Lowry, Manchester), Rashomon (Yellow Earth, national tour), A Winter’s Tale (Theatre Royal Bath), Sarajevo Story (Lyric Hammersmith), Far Above Rubies (Tricycle Theatre) and The Last of the Just (Arts Theatre). Television credits include Benidorm, Ambassadors, World Without End, Monty Python – Almost the Truth, Rosemary and Thyme. For film his credits include Entebbe, Stan and Ollie, Endgame and The Man Who Cried. 

Melanie Fullbrook directs. She is the Founding Director of London based theatre company Go People. With the company, she has acted in and produced Win Lose Draw (Waterloo East Theatre), Almost Maine (Park Theatre), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Southwark Playhouse) and the forthcoming Daisy Pulls It Off (also Park Theatre, December). As a dramaturg, her credits include Diminished and Experience (Hampstead Theatre) and Looking at Lucien (Theatre Royal Bath).

Stephen Unwin is Artistic Associate of the production and Dramaturg and is an experienced theatre director, disability rights campaigner, writer and teacher. He founded the English Touring Theatre in 1993 and, in 2008, opened the Rose Theatre, Kingston. Unwin’s extensive credits span over thirty years and his recent directing credits include The Real Thing (UK tour), and the forthcoming Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in the Spring of 2018. He is also an author having written eight books on theatre and drama, and four original plays.
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