ObamAmerica-two weeks till opening night! Kickstarter goal achieved, plays in rehearsal, now we need

It’s been an amazing few weeks for Over Here Theatre Company. We reached our goal of £3,000 on Kickstarter and even went over, thanks to the generosity of friends, family and complete strangers on both sides of the Atlantic who believe in the project. The lovely thing is it hasn’t all been liberal minded supporters- an avowed Republican, a workmate of my husband’s, just sent some cash through the post for the theatre company. Kickstarter was hard work but I am so pleased we now can present our festival with some style! We might just go buy new chairs for the set rather than collect second hand ones from a charity shop.

All the plays are cast with a variety of different actors and rehearsals are on the go. I have been rehearsing two plays at the same time and they couldn’t be more different. Crowd by Judah Skoff, which is on the first week of the festival, is a group piece where dialogue is not assigned to any roles. It was up to me how many actors I cast and which lines they say. It was a very tough choice as so many talented actors came in to audition but in the end I chose the ones I thought could bring vitality and intelligence to the piece: Siu-see Hung, Matthew McFetridge, Rachel Handshaw and Alexandra Metaxa. None of them had worked together before and it is lovely to see them gelling as a group, coming up with characters and bringing the piece to life. They Float Up, by Jacquelyn Reingold, a well-established TV writer, will be on the second week. It’s about a middle aged white woman who decides she wants to become a topless dancer in New Orleans and tries to engage a young black man to help her find work. It is a funny yet truthful play which manages to be entertaining while also driving home the message that New Orleans, as the rest of the country, is still suffering from poverty, homelessness and unemployment and the American black underclass are the hardest hit of all. For that play I cast Stacia Keogh, whom I have worked with a few times and a young British actor, James Mensah, a former maths teacher turned actor who does a great American accent! Both plays have provoked lots of political discussion in rehearsal- sometimes we get too caught up in talking we forget the acting bit! I love intelligent actors.

Now we need to sell out this festival! I have been on Facebook, twitter and email, encouraging people to buy their tickets ahead of time. There has been a buzz about the festival ever since we put out a call for play submissions and with over sixty people involved in the production, we should have no problem bringing an audience of friends and family in. What I would like to see is also people who are interested in the subject matter, or American plays and culture, maybe even people who never go to the theatre but want to feel intellectually stimulated and politically engaged or perhaps just like a good story. ObamAmerica has something for everyone with fabulous writing, talented actors and directors and many different viewpoints. See you there!

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