Peckham – The Soap Opera
Auditions on 19 and 20 June
It was buzzing with activity at the Bussey Building as Peckham locals gathered for an opportunity to strut their stuff as part of ‘Peckham: the Soap Opera’. Forty-two proud Peckham-ites, representing the length and breadth of the community, started gathering early for a 7pm kick off. The high-energy group were ready and raring for the chance to be part of the ten part series performed and live-streamed direct from the Bussey from July 1st to 12th, culminating in a classic soap omnibus on the 13th. The audition workshop was led by directors Ola Animashawun and Debbie Hannan with the team from the Royal Court on hand; Dan Brodie, Zoe Hurwitz, Heather Cryan, Jules Slienger, Lindsey Banwell-Knight and Lana Nasser.
During the three hour workshop, the group participated in acting warm up exercises, character creation games and 1 minute soap scenes, before creating short stories drawing from their own lives to share with the group. The participants re-created scenes from around the area using recognisable Peckham archetypes, and their creativity and passion for the project was clear. The enthusiasm and excitement of the participants could’ve lasted well past the 10pm stop time. From the 42 people who came to auditions, 23 were called back for the second round of auditions tonight, and an ensemble will be drawn from this group to make the cast and chorus of Peckham: Soap Opera.
A particularly gorgeous moment was when 80 year old Nellie’s group re-enacted her coming to London from Africa as a young woman to make a singing career, culminating in a surprising and completely stunning operatic performance of Summertime by Nellie herself.
Round 2 of auditions brought passionate returnees, some new faces and another night of local knowledge and enthusiasm. After some warm ups and games, the participants were split into groups and given scenes from a few of the early episodes. We watched an underground hair salon, a Nollywood film being made, a grumpy shop-owner taking on the world and an evil developer trying to bulldoze the area – hearing the scenes for the first time confirmed how brilliant and clever the writing is across the board. The collective acting talent was genuinely brilliant, and after everyone had left, a cast was built very quickly – despite the lack of middle class white men in their 50s (!) we couldn’t be more happy or excited about our cast, scripts, and getting started.
Debbie Hannan Soap Opera Co-director, Lana Nasser Clore Fellowship