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Presented by Now You Know Productions

Life is more than the days you have left. Jeff & Jasmine are two very different people, at very different stages, sharing one life threatening disease. But through each other they learn why life is worth being threatened.

Written & Directed by Anthony Orme, the play tells the uplifting story of how life is measured in friendship and the experiences had, not hours.

★★★★★ ‘Sometimes theatre doesn’t just entertain, it matters.’
BOOK NOW https://upstairsatthegatehouse.cloudvenue.co.uk/home

David J. Keogh

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How did you get involved with the play?
Anthony Orme (The writer and Director) contacted me and asked me to audition.  He had seen a lot of applicants for the role of Jeff but because he had cancer I think they were tending to play him as a victim – when I did my audition I wanted to make him a little more normal – cancer shouldn’t define who he is.  Anthony must of liked what I did! But also, it was beautifully written and it’s the kind of role actors beg for. Really demanding and utterly uplifting – perfect! In fact, I laughed and cried a number of times when I read the script and if it moves you that much then it’s worth doing. Anthony is a very talented writer.

It is a very important and moving subject matter, how do you feel the play tackles the subject?
By not making it a play about cancer! It’s actually a play about hope and seeing the positivity in things. Cancer isn’t really mentioned in the play, it just sits, brooding in the background, feeding the character emotions. When we did the play in Brighton, we had people wait for us afterwards – hug us and say thank you for dealing with it so well.  It has moved a lot of people and we haven’t had a single negative reaction to the topic at all.  The play isn’t making light of cancer – it’s simply showing how people react to it and have to deal with it.  It’s not an easy subject for sure – but it’s sensitively dealt with and well researched.

How do you prepare for such a role?
Well I was going through cancer testing at the time as part of a study at the Royal Marsden – my father died of it at a young age so I was supporting a study into the genetic links that cause it.  So some of the preparation was done for me – I also know a number of people who have had cancer – Some have survived and some sadly haven’t – it gives me instant perspective on Jeff as a character and I understand what he is going through as I know people who have dealt with it (and are dealing with it) first hand. But I must me honest, nothing prepared me for the emotional weight I carried around with me when we performed the play in Brighton. The genuinely beautiful response from the audience however, made every minute worth it.
What challenges have you faced?
We have very high expectations of our performances – and during the week I did the play I was suffering from flu which made it hard – but I got through it – and we Had excellent reviews which helped. But also, knowing you are doing something that is deeply affecting the audience makes us all feel incredibly responsible for the audience.  And there are Some very emotional moments in the play – the emotions you see on stage are real too. We all know of people who are affected by this disease so it makes it difficult.
As an actor what keeps you motivated?
This job is such a privilege – working with amazing actors and other creatives every day is motivation in its self – but also, when an audience – be it on film or on stage, appreciates what you do. Then it makes it all worth it.
Did you know of Actor Awareness before I approached you?
I had followed you on Twitter for a while so yes – but I know a lot More now about what you stand for now and quite frankly – it’s wonderful.  I’m a working class actor – I didn’t get the opportunities when I was younger because of my background and that’s why I came into acting so late.  So hurrah to you all and keep up the good fight because we are seriously under-represented out there. I’m so proud to be in any way involved in what you are doing.
Do you feel campaigns like Actor Awareness are a good step in making a more inclusive industry?
Yes – they have to be.  Working class people simply don’t get to make the choice to go into acting in the first place and the ones who manage to, have to work extremely hard without support and often against the wishes of their families.  Acting isn’t considered a job if you aren’t earning -and families often think you’re a bit odd if you go into the arts!  There’s a whole culture issue – but purely in actor terms, we have less contacts and favours to lean on, which in an industry that very heavily on contacts and who you know, makes things harder.  Any help is welcomed.   We need actors from every background.   The reality of course is that regardless of background, you have to have talent of you’ll eventually get found out – whatever class you stem from! And working class people shouldn’t use their background as an excuse – but let’s be clear, it is harder for us.  But that’s shouldn’t stop us trying to break through.
What would you tell your younger self if you knew what you knew now?
Believe in yourself.  You have so much to offer. Stop thinking you are worthless!  I had a tough childhood so carried a lot of baggage into my adult life.  I wasted so much time doubting myself.  But I’ve proven I can do this – and I like to think I’m quite good too!   I believe in myself now. Damn… So much wasted time…
What attracts you to theatre ?
There’s really nothing like audience interaction and the sense that people are reacting to what you are doing. The buzz of knowing that at any moment, anything can (and often does) happen that’s off script -Each performance is different each night depending on the other actors and what they do and reacting to that in the moment is wonderful – It’s that mixture of fear and adrenaline and being in the moment that is so different from acting on screen.
Suffering from prostate cancer  how has that been in regards to preparing for the play? it must be very challenging.
Well I was diagnosed 4 weeks ago – and I still have to go on stage knowing that I am playing someone with the disease.  It’s a rather unfortunate opportunity to method act! In some ways it is cathartic because I get to play a character who is very angry at his diagnosis and has little support at home – I have the opposite, I have so much support and I am actually using my diagnosis to help raise awareness – I feel I carry a responsibility to help other people get down to the doctors if they are  worried about something. Having cancer doesn’t stop me from being an actor – I’m planning on being around for a long time yet and don’t see why this should stop me.  This is my dream – if anything being diagnosed only makes me more determined. My preparation for the play stays the same.  But I also have to remember the effect My diagnosis may have on the other actors – it’s not easy for them because last time we performed I was cancer free.  Next time will be a lot more real for all of us.  I’ve only had four weeks to deal with this myself – But at the end of the day it’s a play – I’m playing a character and we all have a job to do.  It’s not about me, it’s about the audience and ensuring they enjoy the play – which I am very confident they will.

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