Coventry City of Culture Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company have announced the casting for their new co-production, Faith.
A group of twelve actors (many of them hailing from Coventry and the West Midlands), will play multiple roles across four promenade performances taking place throughout the day on Saturday 11th September.
The plays are written by Chris O’Connell, (Theatre Absolute; Shop Front Theatre; Frantic Assembly; Cardboard Citizens; Paines Plough; BBC) and Chinonyerem Odimba (Artistic Director and Chief Executive of tiata fahodzi; Unknown Rivers – Hampstead Theatre Downstairs; My Best Friend Married A Warrior – BBC iPlayer; Black Love, Paines Plough), in collaboration with writers from the City Voices programme including Wes Finch, Christine Foxon, Kim Hackleman, Alexandra Johnson, Josh Leach, Navkiran Mann, Adriana Mourelle, Jaspal Singh and Jack Tafaro. These plays tell the stories of Coventry families and friends and their very different relationships with faith and hope, through a series of journeys with the city as the stage. Performances will also encompass a movement piece from the Belgrade’s Youth Theatre Group.
The cast includes Annice Boparai (J’Ouvert, Sonia Friedman Productions; Trojan Horse, Lung Theatre), Daniel J Carver (digital TV series, SEAVIEW; short film, I AM), Pushpinder Chani (London Confidential, JAR Pictures; The Brummie Iliad, BBC Radio 3), Sarah Cullum (The Little Prince, Fuel Theatre; V&V, Sprezzatura Productions), Jack Gardner (RENT and Mother Clap’s Molly House, Mountview), Darryl Hughes (Romeo and Juliet, Shangai International Festival; The Tempest, Heartbreak Productions), Katy Stephens (RSC Associate Artist; Histories Cycle (RSC); As You Like It (RSC/ Roundhouse/ New York ), Humera Syed (The Village, Stratford East; The Stranger, Netflix), Anand Toora (Punk Rock and A Doll’s House, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama), Matthew Wait (Cool Water Murder, The Belgrade; Choke, Shop Front Theatre), Claire Wetherall (The Coat and The Assumption, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and Grace Wylde (Georgie The Knight and The Boy In The Dress, RSC).
The promenade pieces will each be performed twice to a live in-person audience in Coventry, and are also being live-streamed in an event reminiscent of the pageant-based Mystery Plays, of which the medieval Coventry Mystery Plays are one of the most prominent. Performances of the Coventry Plays are first recorded in a document of 1392–3, and continued for nearly two centuries; the young Shakespeare may have witnessed them before they were finally suppressed in 1579.
Directed by Erica Whyman, the RSC’s Deputy Artistic Director, Faith will take place over 24 hours in locations across the city and online, and invites audiences (both in-person and virtually) to immerse themselves in the diverse faiths of Coventry – a proud interfaith city – through music, theatre, art installations, rituals, discussion and dialogue. Tickets, which are free, will be available to book for pre-registered audiences on Friday 20th August on the City of Culture website, with general on-sale on Friday 27th August.
Faith has always been part of Coventry’s story, from its medieval monasteries and Mystery Plays, to welcoming refugees fleeing religious persecution through the years, such as the Huguenots who brought silk weaving with them to the city.
Yet how we – as world citizens – experience faith, both as individuals and as communities, manifests itself in different ways. Look beyond the spires of Coventry’s iconic Cathedral and you’ll uncover a rich and interconnected sacred architecture of Gurdwaras, Mosques, Temples and Churches of all denominations where Humanists, Quakers, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Rosicrucians, Methodists, Catholics, Pagans and countless other faiths, and those of no faith at all, live side by side.
At its heart, Faith will explore what keeps each of us going in tough times, and how people of faith, and of non-religious world views, understand and celebrate the chapters and mysteries of our lives. As we begin to understand the effects of the pandemic, and to recover from our losses, it seems more important than ever to see each other fully, respect our differences, and find new ways to go forward.