Our GriffInsider jumps back inside the Jump for Jordan rehearsal room and is impressed by the volume of female roles in the play.
Doris Younane, Sheridan Harbridge, Camilla Ah Kin & Alice Ansara. Photograph by Brett Boardman
Day five of rehearsals, and it’s hard not to notice that in a room of ten cast and creatives, there are only two men – director Iain Sinclair and actor Sal Sharah, who plays Sophie’s father Sahir. Impressed by the volume of female roles in this play, I ask the cast what it’s like to be part of such a female dominated play.
“Brilliant,” says Doris Younane, who plays Sophie’s mother, Mara, and judging from the looks on faces across the room, the response is unanimous. People chime in with comments about more work for more actresses, and the room smiles collectively at Donna Abela, expressing genuine gratitude.
“It’s such a relief to have a young female protagonist who exists because she’s on a journey as well, not just because she’s someone’s girlfriend,” continues Anna Houston, who play’s Sophie’s partner, Sam. “Plus it’s exciting to be telling a story that’s about women, but for everyone; I think that’s a rarity.”
And, as Alice Ansara is quick to point out, Jump for Jordan spans the lives of so many different and dynamic women, from ethnic first-generation Australians Sophie and Loren (who don’t speak a word of Arabic), to their traditional Jordanian mother Mara, Mara’s ‘ultra-Arab’ sister Azza, Sophie’s Australian girlfriend Sam, and their father’s Palestinian sister, Layla.
Alice Ansara and Anna Houston. Photograph by Brett Boardman
And while the actors may be happy to be sharing the stage with one another, the same cannot be said about their characters.
“There’s a lot of resentment between both sets of sisters, and a bit of jealousy,” says Sheridan Harbridge, who plays Sophie’s sister, Loren. “In each paring there’s one that’s more conservative and one that’s more liberal, and that has them at odds a lot.”
Camilla Ah Kin, who plays Sophie and Loren’s aunt Azza, says that despite being a generation apart, the dynamic between both sets of siblings is quite similar.
“There’s a kind of expectation if you’re the same gender and fairly close in age that there are going to be more similarities than differences,” she says. “But that’s often not the case. You can be from the same womb and experience the world like they’re different planets.”
There are weighted nods around the room as everyone draws on their own sibling experiences.
“But this is why it’s so funny,” laughs Alice, whose chemistry with her on-stage sister Loren already rings cringingly close to home. “You can be so unreasonable with family; even the smartest people just descend to family politics.”