While the rest of us are winding down for the year, the cast and crew of On the Shore of the Wide World are in full swing. Here they reflect on the play, their characters, and the magical touch of director Anthony Skuse.

Kate Fitzpatrick. Photo by Gez Xavier Mansfield.

Graeme McRae – Alex Holmes

“I’m at that moment now where, after running full parts and seeing everyone’s work, I’m pretty damn excited for this play. But also, with the upcoming Christmas/New Year break, I’m a little terrified by the amount of time left. However the excitement outweighs the terror, as I’m reminded of the kick-ass team involved, and this exceptional play. Can’t wait to share it with an audience.”

Lily Newbury-Freeman – Sarah Black

“Rehearsals for On the Shore of the Wide World have been a discovery into the ordinariness of these beautiful characters. The kind of people you find yourself sitting next to on the bus, or that you live next door to, or you’ve spoken to on the phone – wherever it may be, you’ve met them. Or you are them. You understand them, and that’s the point. And I guess that has been one of the lovely parts about this rehearsal process; to watch these lives weave together as they all strive to navigate the mess and joy and grief of life.”

Director Anthony Skuse. Photo by Gez Xavier Mansfield

Alex Beauman – Christopher Holmes

“When I first read the script of On the Shore of the Wide World I was reminded of why I adore acting. It’s altogether delicate, powerful, touching and heart wrenching. I vividly remember walking into the rehearsal room at pantsguys for the first read and feeling as though the room was vibrating from all the talent pouring out of every member of our team. It was inspiring to say the least. I have felt truly blessed to be able to learn and work with such an incredible cast and crew. After every rehearsal I’ve walked away grinning. It’s been wonderful.”

Huw Higginson – Peter Holmes

“Rehearsals this week have got to that perilous time when you are just about ‘off-book’. This means that having drawn the wider canvas we are now into detail. I feel that this is where Skuse is at his best and where close attention pays off… I hope. In grammatical terms, On the Shore is one of the most detailed of modern plays. Stephens gives you the score and if you can learn the punctuation he gives you the symphony on a plate. It’s then up to you to play it, pitch perfect being the aim. But as always the audience must be the judge of this!”

Huw Higginson and Emma Palmer. Photo by Gez Xavier Mansfield.

Emma Palmer – Susan Reynolds

On the Shore is one of those plays that no matter how long you rehearse there are always more layers to peel away, and underneath those layers lie deeper, darker secrets. Susan is an interesting character to play as she sits outside the core family and above them in terms of class and education. She is also the keeper of time, as a family’s undoing and tragedy unfold over the course of her pregnancy. During rehearsals we’ve been given the time and space to discover who these people are, and the world they exist in. All the while, Skuse is crafting beautiful images and story. “

Amanda Stephens-Lee – Alice Holmes

“Rehearsing and working on this play has been a fascinating process as every time I look at it, it reveals new things to me about the world of the play and my character, Alice. The writing is absolutely striking in its beauty and simplicity. The many layers below the surface of these characters is signalled by the effective use of something as simple as a comma, repeated word or phrase. And as an actor obsessed with language this is a joy. Our wonderful and insightful director Anthony Skuse is a dream director and has assembled a fantastic cast. There are three generations of actors in the room and learning from these wonderful artists at different stages of their careers is an absolute highlight of working on this play.”

pantsguys Productions, December 2013