It was a windy Thursday afternoon when I made my way down to Boundless Headquarters, sitting in the heart of Bermondsey’s Biscuit Factory. Though formerly a baker’s wet dream, the complex stands almost like Canary Wharf’s answer to Shoreditch; Architects and artisan coffee offices but tucked away there was something much more exciting brewing.
The team for ‘Natives’ are rehearsing a few doors down from their main office, in an open plan room strewn with mark-ups, platforms, computers and a really big screen with the Theatre Company’s name adorning it, ever adapting to the needs of the space. Props, scripts and cups populate the floor as I enter, accidentally interrupting the cast on their pre-run warm up. I stifle the urge to join in. Everyone is friendly but focused, hard at work, clearing the space, and talking last minute items. Though it’s a simple run there’s a similar buzz to a fully-fledged performance. It’s always exciting to watch the preparation before a run and each of the cast have their own process to ready themselves. I speak to Rob, Boundless’ AD and director of the show. You can see the mental preparation he’s taking himself as he talks to stage management and introduces me to the room, his eye constantly analysing every part of the production.
As part of Boundless’ Youth Advisory Board we’ve been involved in seeing the play evolve since late last year, and it’s a marvel to see Glenn’s script really come to life. Manish, Ella and Fionn are real storytellers, each building such distinct worlds with their words. I was apprehensive as I knew the play but I’m hooked, swallowed into the lives of the teenagers they played, seeing each of their days from their own eyes. I find myself laughing and sniggering to myself. I’m repulsed occasionally but all in all it feels real. It’s polished but still raw. I’m constantly drawn back to memories of myself a few years prior at a similar age. All three of the characters spend their time navigating what the world’s about them want them to be but also what they want for themselves. It’s powerful. And not once do I think of lazy teenage stereotypes. It’s honest, and I feel absorbed in it.
Time flies by and suddenly it’s over. Seriously I didn’t even realise it was 90 minutes. I clap hard. The quality is already showing and I know more is coming. Soon after the run everyone is back to resetting the space, trying costumes, giving notes, tweaking and refining. With the level of effort and professionalism going into this production I know this will be a brilliant piece of theatre for young people. I’m already looking forward to seeing it again.