Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Start of rehearsals for Sovereign, York Theatre Royal’s large-scale community production this summer

by Handy Mag
Published: Updated:

Rehearsals have begun for York Theatre Royal’s large-scale community production – a world premiere adaptation by Mike Kenny of C. J. Sansom’s acclaimed Tudor-set novel Sovereign.

Partnering with University of York, York Theatre Royal will bring the story to life on an outdoor stage at the university’s King’s Manor – one of the key locations in the book – from 15-30 July.

Leading the 100-strong company are two professional actors. Irish actor Fergus Rattigan plays disabled lawyer Matthew Shardlake who, with his assistant Jack Barak, is in York awaiting the arrival of Henry VIII, only to find himself plunged into a mystery that could threaten the future of the crown.

Fergus said: “The role of Matthew Shardlake is ideal for me – not only do I love and study the Tudor period but Shardlake very much has my mindset. He’s a bit of an outsider which is something I can relate to both as a disabled person in a world not designed for disabled people but as a foreigner from another country. I’m very used to that outsider nature.

Fergus’s previous stage work includes Lautrec (Camden Fringe), Our Country’s Good (Ramps on the Moon tour), the title role in The Wizard of Oz (Chester Storyhouse) and Snow White (Edinburgh Festival Theatre).  His TV credits include The Tudors and Game of Thrones.

The other professional actor in the cast is Sam Thorpe-Spinks, playing Jack Barak.  He’s no stranger to York, having studied History and Politics at the University of York before training and at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His television credits include ITVX’s A Spy Among Friends and Paramount+’s Sexy Beast. Theatre credits include Faceless (Park Theatre), Emanate (Kiln Theatre) and Something In The Air (Jermyn Street Theatre).

Juliet Forster, Mingyu Lin and John R. Wilkinson are directing this community production which, alongside two professional actors, features a large community cast and choir, and others volunteering in backstage production roles.

Featured players include Emma Blackstone (Lady Rockford), Mark Gowland (Henry VIII), Maurice Crichton (Malevrer), Scarlett Rowley (Queen Katherine), Livy Potter (Tamasin), Joe Hopper (Radwinter), Matthew Page (Wrenne) and Katie Leckey (Jennet).

While rehearsals have only just begun, the Sovereign Stitchers – volunteers tasked with making Tudor costumes for the large cast – have been busy for the past seven weeks. Their costume tally so far is 45 shirts and blouses, 10 trunk hose and breeches, 12 skirts, 26 corsets, 25 doublets, 12 bags, 6 belts, 6 aprons, 46 hats and 48 ‘bum rolls’.

Juliet Forster, York Theatre Royal’s Creative Director, said, “Rehearsals are underway with our 100-strong community cast and we have been so thrilled by everyone’s passion and enthusiasm.”

Sovereign is being staged from 15-30 July outdoors at King’s Manor in Exhibition Square in York.

Box office 01904 623568 | yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

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