Bobby Brook is the director of Jay Taylor’s new play The Acedian Pirates, which premieres at London’s Theatre503 next week.
My journey with this play began, if my memory isn’t too hazy, almost three years ago now. I was working in-house at Theatre503 at the time, as their Resident Assistant Director. One of my first directing gigs was to work on their 503Futures initiative, where four exciting emerging writers are paired up with four directors to develop part of a full-length piece and show it in an informal scratch night set up. I was asked to direct Lily, by some young unknown writer called Jay Taylor. I was immediately intrigued by his style, use of language and approach to storytelling.
A few weeks after Lily had been performed, Jay started sending me other scripts, pretty much his entire back catalogue – this guy had been busy! I, to this day, don’t know how he found the time to write so much considering he’s been a very successful jobbing actor for the last 10 years… I think the only play he actually didn’t send me was The Acedian Pirates which was put under my nose by Paul Robinson, the Artistic Director of 503 at that point. That was a game-changing moment for me – I think I read it a couple of times over, back to back pretty much, just absorbing what this play could be, what it means and what an exciting challenge it may prove to be for a director. I knew I had to get this play put on!
“I knew that this play would take some serious fundraising if I wanted to do it justice. And so, after nearly a year’s worth of ‘making asks’ and applying for funding, we felt confident that we could make this happen”
With Pirates, I was presented with a play for six actors, with extensive possibilities for some exciting and unique design (the whole play takes place in a lighthouse, over two floors – trying to work out how to do that on the small 503 stage has been quite a mind-bender). As my Lighting Designer said ‘this is an epic play on a domestic scale.’ She couldn’t have been more accurate. I knew that this play would take some serious fundraising if I wanted to do it justice. And so, after nearly a year’s worth of ‘making asks’ and applying for funding, we felt confident that we could make this happen to the best of our abilities and with the full financial support to feel secure.
As the lead up to this production has been so long, we have had the luxury of properly developing the text. Lots of research and development through the year has meant that we have been able to refine this play into a fast-paced, intense and funny piece.
We held auditions at the beginning of September, and began rehearsals at the beginning of October, and then the final month of pre-production was filled with meetings, final design chat, checking in with the cast and general organised panic! The first day of rehearsals is always nerve-wracking for everyone, but hearing that first read-through and knowing that you couldn’t have cast it better just fills you with relief and excitement about what will come out of rehearsals.
And now, here we are, two weeks into rehearsals, with a week to go before tech. We’re feeling overwhelmed by the progress we have made, but excited about getting into the space and realising our collective vision, and very emotional thinking about where we are now, and what it has taken to get here! So please excuse me if you see me at any point over the next month, as I will no doubt be an emotional firework… The cherry on the cake will be getting it in front of an audience and filling 503 to the rafters. Not all treasure is silver and gold and The Acedian Pirates proves that in spades. Here’s to it, and my exceptional Pirate Crew!