FEATURE: Greyscale Theatre Company | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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You may think the very essence of acting lies in pretending to be something or someone else; but Selma Dimitrijevic might disagree with you. The artistic director of Greyscale theatre company is the writing talent behind the Newcastle-based company’s new production, Gods Are Fallen And All Safety Gone, which is at Northern Stage from Thursday 4th until Saturday 6th June.

Borrowing a line from John Steinbeck’s masterpiece East Of Eden, the play explores the realisation that our parents are fallible creatures. “There’s a beautiful paragraph at the beginning of the book that talks about the moment when a child realises their parents are not these perfect beings, but just faulty humans like everyone else.” Says Selma. “I thought ‘there’s a whole big painful play in this’, so I stole the best sentence and used it as my title: Gods Are Fallen And All Safety Gone.”

Presented as a lifetime of conversations between a mother and daughter condensed into an hour, the performance by the all-male cast also involves a real-life mother and daughter from the community, who observe the unfolding drama from the side of the stage.

“The idea behind every show is to make people feel more and think less”

“I have no interest in pretending in theatre, and in pursuit of exorcising pretending from our work, every night we invite two people who genuinely are mother and daughter to bring that relationship to the stage so that actors don’t have to fake it.” Explains Selma. Sean Campion plays the role of the mother and up and coming North East actor Scott Turnbull takes on the role of the daughter. “I find naturalism in theatre exceptionally dull.” Selma says, when asked about casting the men to play women’s roles. “As a company, we’re not very interested in external realism and once you take that out of the equation, you can cast anyone in any part.” Having been members of the company for years, it’s obvious the actors share a close relationship which transfers to the stage; subtleties in their performance tell the real story, one of intimacy and familial bonds that are all too easily taken for granted. “Sean and Scott are incredible at being themselves and the characters at the same time.” Selma admits.

It’s not the first time Greyscale have challenged preconceptions in their work, their approach to contemporary theatre making aims to explore new ways to create their work, with the audience often at the centre of their concerns. “The idea behind every show is to make people feel more and think less. We work really hard to create a model where the whole team, including designers, actors and the writer can spend longer periods of time together, changing and reshaping the show, making it as good as it can be.”

Selma’s role as a writer is a continually evolving one, developing and reacting to the work while it’s being performed. “We never really finish our shows. The strongest influence the audience has comes from us observing how they experience it, and learning from it; listening to them when they don’t know we are listening, but not in a creepy way.”

Greyscale present Gods Are Fallen And All Safety Gone at Northern Stage, Newcastle from Thursday 4th until Saturday 6th June.

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