March 2018 sees the premiere of Our Country’s Good, our co-production with the acclaimed Ramps on the Moon, a consortium of seven theatre companies dedicated to putting D/deaf and disabled artists and audiences at the centre of their work.
Set in 1787, Our Country’s Good tells the extraordinary true story of a group of convicts and a young officer who rehearse and perform a play – Australia’s first theatrical production. With opposition from the officers and a leading lady who may be hanged, the odds are stacked against them.
Our Country’s Good includes one of our largest casts to date. Find out who they are:
Taking the role of Robbie Ross is Colin Connor who has previously appeared in Waiting for Godot (Tobacco Factory Theatres/The Dukes/Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough); The Father (Oldham Coliseum Theatre/Harrogate Theatre). Colin won two Manchester Theatre Awards in 2016: Best Actor (Eddie Carbone – A view from the Bridge) and Best Fringe Performance for the title role in Mr Smith.
Playing Wisehammer is Tom Dawze whose credits include Roots; The Marked (Theatre Témoin); Adventure To Oz; The Twelve Days Of Christmas (ChickenShed); EastEnders (BBC).
Captain Campbell is played by Jarrad Ellis-Thomas a recent graduate of Guildford School of Acting where he appeared in Buckets; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Journey’s End; Pericles; All My Sons; Ghosts.
Fifi Garfield will be taking the role of Dabby. Fifi made her acting debut with London Deaf Drama Group aged 19 and has been performing ever since. She has appeared in over twenty productions on stage and screen and has worked with, among others, Bill Nighy, Jenny Éclair and Joe Absolom. Her credits include Contractions; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Deafinitely Theatre); Macbeth (Royal Shakespeare Company).
Playing Caesar is Keiren Hamilton-Amos who recently appeared on our Neville Studio stage in Strictly Arts Theatre’s Freeman. His other credits include Green Leaves Fall; Solids and Liquids (Strictly Arts Theatre); Tapestry (Playhouse Theatre Company); Stand For It (Saltmine Theatre Company).
Liz Morden is played by Gbemisola Ikumelo who has appeared in Oliver Twist (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); The New Nigerians (Arcola Theatre); The Night Watch (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester); Little Shop of Horrors (Salisbury Playhouse); Broadchurch (ITV).
Kieron Jecchinis will be playing Arthur Philip. He has appeared in The Merry Wives of Windsor; Coriolanus (Royal Shakespeare Company); A Midsummer Night’s Dream; All’s Well That Ends Well (Stratford Festival, Canada); Full Metal Jacket; Empire of the Sun (Warner Bros).
Sapphire Joy will take the role of Mary. Her credits include Imogen (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Asphalt Kiss (StoneCrabs/New Diorama); More Important Things (Half Moon Theatre).
John Arscott is played by Will Lewis who has appeared in An Ideal Husband (KDC Theatre); Silent Royal; Don’t Look Back in Anger (Deafinitely Theatre); Red and Yellow (Handprint Theatre); Sick (Graeae). Will has also co-narrated The Iron Man for the BBC and has appeared in music videos for 1,2,1,2 (Island records) and Break Your Phone (Bullion Productions) as well as numerous commercials.
Milton Lopes will play the Aboriginal Australian. He has appeared in The Threepenny Opera (Graeae/ New Wolsey Theatre/Nottingham Playhouse/Birmingham Repertory Theatre/West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Tempest (Taking Flight). Milton is currently developing Elephant, a show involving circus, theatre and live music with deaf and disabled multidisciplinary performers which incorporates sign language and audio description.
Alex Nowak will play Sideway. His credits include Tribes (Gate Theatre, Dublin/National Tour of Scotland); Real Human Being (National Tour of Wales). Alex has completed a variety of commercial pieces for National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and National Deaf Children’s Society in the UK. He was the Young Deaffest Ambassador for Deaffest Film Festival between 2012 and 2014. He has appeared on Channel 4 as a continuity announcer. In 2014, Alex founded the Matara Deaf Film and Arts Festival in southern Sri Lanka.
Playing Meg is Caroline Parker. She has appeared in Fittings Multimedia Arts – Vogue: The Unlimited House of Krip (Vogue Ball 2017, Liverpool); The Tin Soldier (Festival Theatre, Edinburgh). Caroline also does the stand-up comedy circuit and is a member of Abnormally Funny People. In 2015 Caroline won three Best Actress awards for her role Mabel Morgan in the BSLBT Zone film If I Don’t Lose, I’ll Lose at the Cenedeaf III Rome Film Festival, Clin d’Oeil and Cannes Disability Film Festival 2016.
Taking the role of Ralph Clark is Tim Pritchett who has appeared in Short and Stark (Southwark Playhouse); Cat in Sieve (Theatre503); Black Mirror (Netflix); Howards End; (BBC); Wonder Woman (Warner Bros).
James “Ketch” Freeman will be played by Fergus Rattigan whose credits include Merry Wives of Windsor; All’s Well that Ends Well; The Winter’s Tale; Twelfth Night (Cambridge Shakespeare Festival); Game of Thrones (HBO); The Tudors (Showtime); Mary Poppins Returns (Disney); Holmes and Watson (Columbia Pictures); The Jungle Book (Warner Brothers).
Garry Robson will play Harry Brewer. He has appeared in Reasons to be Cheerful; (Graeae); The Threepenny Opera (New Wolsey Theatre/Graeae/West Yorkshire Playhouse/Nottingham Playhouse/Birmingham Rep); The Who’s Tommy (New Wolsey Theatre/Ramps on the Moon). Garry has also directed over 40 professional productions both here and abroad, receiving several awards including a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award and a Herald Angel.
Duckling will be played by Emily Rose Salter who has been a passionate performer from the age of 6. Since graduating from the University of Reading in Theatre Arts, Education & Deaf Studies Emily was the Assistant Stage Manager on the recent Ramps on the Moon Production, The Who’s Tommy. She is now delighted to be making her professional debut as a performer.
Nabil Shaban will be taking the role of Judge David Collins. Nabil is the co-founder of Graeae Theatre Company of Disabled Artists, founded in 1980. He is an actor, writer and film-maker spanning three-and-a-half decades. Credits include Godspell (Jeanette Cochrane Theatre); The Emperor; Iranian Nights; Downfall (Royal Court); Hamlet (Cleveland Theatre Company).
Our Country’s Good will be directed by our Associate Director Fiona Buffini and will tour to New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Sheffield Crucible and Birmingham Rep, following its run at Nottingham Playhouse from 9 – 24 March.
Ramps On The Moon was set up in recognition of the under representation and employment of D/ deaf disabled people throughout the industry, particularly in “mainstream” theatre and follows on from the highly successful production of The Threepenny Opera in Spring 2014. Integrating D/deaf, disabled and non-disabled performers and practitioners, this six year programme of work, funded by Art Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund for the first 3 years, aims to achieve a step change in the employment and artistic opportunities for D/deaf and disabled performers and creative teams, and a cultural change in the participating organisations that will enable accessibility to become a central part of their thinking and aesthetics. The consortium venues are New Wolsey Theatre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Nottingham Playhouse, Sheffield Theatres, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Graeae Theatre Company.
This production of Our Country’s Good will have embedded creative use of Audio Description, Captioning and British Sign Language in all performances.