7th April 2011
“Currently, I’m Deputy Head of Acting on the Musical Theatre program at Mountview Academy of Arts. But they are very good at letting me pop out to do other projects and so I direct a lot there, as well as teaching acting obviously! After doing a degree in theatre at Bretton Hall in Yorkshire (sadly no more), I helped set up a theatre company; performing all our own stuff. When we disbanded, I moved down to London, continued to act for a bit and then started directing, I started off with a few shows on the fringe and then I was very fortunate to assist some amazing directors; Declan Donnellan, Max Stafford-Clark, and Greg Doran, to name but a few. I learnt a tremendous amount from them.
I met Dominic [Dromgoole, Artistic Director of the Globe] when he was working at Oxford Stage Company. I think it was in between Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2 last year that Dominic said he had a project that I may be interested in, the Bible … and I didn’t know quite what he meant at the time! I was aware that it had been four hundred years since it had been published, and when he explained about the staged reading, I thought it could be quite exciting.
I decided I would read as much of the Bible as I could. I had read Matthew, Mark, Luke & John (basically all the Jesus stories) and the bits about Moses, at school in Religious Education. So some of it was familiar, but obviously there were loads of sections as I worked my way through that I didn’t even know existed, or phrases I didn’t know originated from the Bible. I suppose it’s the same as Shakespearean quotes. I think most people can quote something from Shakespeare, they can say ‘To be or not to be’ or ‘Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo’. I was amazed at the density of language in the King James Version and of the beauty of the poetry.
In approaching staging it, Lotte [Theatre General Manager] and I sat down and worked out the hows and whys and all the logistical planning it would take in order to do it. I think it probably took us six weeks to do it, in-between cups of coffee – we went through each chapter religiously! We knew there were 5 teams of 4 actors which we labelled A to E. Actor 1 would start with chapter 1, and actor 2 would take chapter 2 and it would go on. So there’s always three people who can spend time off stage, while the other two are on or are getting ready to come on for the next chapter.
I think it will work well because it will give them a sense of energy and drive for that chapter. And I quite like the challenge of the accuracy and timing of it all, considering we have 63.5 hours to do all sixty-six books of the Bible. We have had to carefully time each chapter and give those timings to the actors so that they can keep their recording within that timeframe. Hopefully all our calculations will have been correct … !” – Jacqui.