Dispatches from the Casting Room: Perseverance Drive
“You can’t hear the actors who have come in to read for Perseverance Drive sing gospel and not be elevated by the beauty and hope of these songs” says Madani Younis, director of Perseverance Drive and Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre.
Speaking to us from inside the casting room, Madani describes the joys and challenges of casting a play that has an all-black cast. “It has been so inspiring to meet a wealth of talent and find actors of great theatrical experience and gravitas” he says. However, he admits there have been challenges. “When looking to cast the elderly father, I have been struck by just how small the pool of actors who have the necessary experience is. It is important to talk about this, and to recognise how hard it has been for black actors to sustain a career when there haven’t been the parts available that these actors have deserved.”
The characters of Perseverance Drive are mostly immigrant born siblings in their forties. Their parents hail from Barbados, however Madani insists that “theirs is an experience that will be recognised by many – the play tells a universal story of family ties”. Importantly, Madani explains, Perseverance Drive is not a ghettoization of black family life. “This is not a council estate play. In fact, the siblings consider themselves at the heart of London life, they are invested stake-holders in the future of our city.”
“I cannot wait to share the cast list of actors for Perseverance Drive with Bush Theatre audiences, I am so excited by the exceptionally talented actors that we have seen”.