Actress Carrie Rock is part of the cast of Rising, a play looking at the challenges that many people being released from prison face. The cast includes Cardboard Citizens’ Member actors with experience of homelessness, with the group having toured across hostels, day centres and prisons for more than 26 years.
1. As part of the launching the Mayor of London’s Winter Homeless Fundraising Campaign, Rising will be available to the public via live stream from London City Hall. As an actress, what are the pros and cons to live stream theatre?
The pros of live stream theatre is that we can reach a wider audience that is unable to come and see the play. Perhaps an audience of non theatre goers or people who perhaps wouldn’t necessarily have thought to come and see our play but are invested in what goes on in City Hall. The cons (as an actress) for me is that the audience members are a little detached when watching a live stream. They are in their homes, their surroundings whilst watching it, not feeling the energy, buzz of the world that we are creating that a live audience totally immerse themselves into but that’s just a little niggle for me. It’s only if the audience member of the live stream could watch the live show too that they would notice a difference. But the pros of reaching a wider audience, provoking thoughts, raising awareness far outweigh the cons.
2. How important is it that this performance incorporate actors and actresses that have experienced homelessness in their own lives?
Very important. As with all issue based plays, it’s important that someone with lived experience is involved from the beginning in the rehearsal room, to be involved in discussions about the play and to offer inside knowledge and opinions as a point of reference for the director, writer and cast.
3. The play includes a forum theatre element. This allows the audience to change the outcome of the show by offering ideas that might change the course of the characters’ lives. What are your personal hopes for this ability to interact?
I hope that people can gain a bit of confidence by interacting and playing with the cast. I think drama is a great tool to help with confidence and that can help with being more confident in life and our interactions out there in the world. Also to have a voice, an opinion, to draw on their own experience and educate us all on what might have been a better choice for Terrence and also to highlight that other choices may not be as simple. To get the audience thinking about if they are ever in any of the situations that Terrence finds himself in, then hopefully they can refer back to our forum piece and have a bit of thinking/reflecting time before reacting and be more prepped to make a tried and more informed choice.
4. You trained with women’s theatre company, Clean Break. How did you get involved with them and what was the most important thing you took from working with the group?
I’ve always wanted to be an actress and did performing arts when I was 16 years old, but then I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t live in my family home anymore and things led to me giving up the course and working full time. I became stuck in a rut for years, making unhealthy choices. When I was 29 years old, I bumped into a lady who was on my Performing Arts Course and, after I told her I hadn’t carried on with acting, she told me about Clean Break. I couldn’t believe that somewhere like Clean Break existed. I had thought about drama school but felt too old to go and couldn’t even afford the audition fees let alone the course fees. I was excited by Clean Break and to train with women who had similar experiences to me, and the material we worked on was things that I had experience with, and could relate to. I felt I’d found a place where I could finally fit in. What I’ve taken away from Clean Break is that I have a voice, I have something to say and I’m brave enough to say it.
5.What’s the biggest misconception about homelessness?
That it’s a choice.
And just for fun…
6. If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?
7. What life skills do you think are rarely taught but extremely useful?
Everyday living, money management, DIY, social skills.
8. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
If I didn’t have to sleep I would read every book and play ever written and watch all films made and go see every play put on and learn more about everything.
9. What do you wish you knew more about?
I wish I knew more about the world, its history.
10. Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
The most interesting place I’ve been to is New York. I did a play there in 2012. I loved it. It reminded me of London. Sitting by Brooklyn Bridge amongst the warehouses reminded me of Tower Bridge where I live. I was staying in Brooklyn, it felt like Kennington or Brixton with the big impressive buildings mixed in with newer modern living complexes. Very urban and Manhattan, just like our West End. It felt like a home from home.
Cardboard Citizens will perform Rising in the Council Chamber of London’s City Hall on Tuesday 27 November at 7.00pm. You can watch the live stream for free on their website: www.cardboardcitizens.org.uk/RisingLive or from the City of London website www.london.gov.uk
The play will be followed by an interactive session where live audience members at City and online commenters will be able to change the outcome of the story by making suggestions.
You can follow Cardboard Citizebs on Twitter: @CardboardCitz
Love our interviews with women on stage? Head over to read our 5 minutes with Louise Rednapp in Cabaret!