Comet premiere represented as launchpad for graduate cast at Pleasance Theatre

Writer and actor Kieran Knowles’ ambitious new initiative aimed at helping aspiring actors find agents and get onto the career ladder, goes into orbit later this month when his new play, Comet, premieres at London’s Pleasance Theatre.

This is the pilot year for (RE)Presented, a scheme launched by the creator of the critically acclaimed Chicken Soup, 31 Hours and Operation Crucible, together with the Pleasance and From Ground Up Theatre Company.

(RE)Presented provides a chance for drama school graduates, without formal representation, to be part of the creation of a brand new play.

More than 275 people, alumni of every Federation of Drama Training-affiliate school, responded to an open casting call and the result, Comet, premieres on February 27 in the Pleasance Stage Space.

All applicants were offered an audition and five young actors were finally selected to develop the play with director Tommo Fowler (JamFinborough Theatre) and Kieran Knowles.

Comet stars Zoe Bullock (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), Ross Ford (Royal Welsh), Daniel Harkin (Manchester School of Theatre), Alexandra Laurence (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) and Hannah Parker (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland).

Comet is about exploring an echo chamber, about jumping down a rabbit hole and losing sight of reality.

It’s about reaching an extreme and looking back to where you started unable to find the common ground.

It’s an exploration of an idea, an analysis of the conclusion it draws and a story about a girl who falls in love with the wrong argument.

Speaking to Stage Review Kieran said: “Plot wise, it’s a bit like 31 Hours in that there are so many routes I could take you down in describing, but each might give away what it is.

“Essentially, it’s an exploration of extremism. It’s about a girl, Charlotte, who becomes fascinated with an idea, and a boy, Adam, who pushes her to explore.

“It’s a play I have been trying to write for over 10 years. I submitted the first draft of this as my submission for the Royal Court Young Writers programme in 2008.

“Since then it’s had many incarnations, most recently as a one-man show with Salvatore D’Aquilla playing the part of Adam for a scratch night at Redbridge Drama Centre. He also began to shoot scenes for a short film, which we never made. 

“It was based on a series of articles I read about a social Darwinist who carried out an atrocity in Europe.

“As someone who believes in the Theory of Evolution I wondered whether a perversion of that theory could, in any way, open up a dialogue about the extremes of any belief structure.

“How does a white male atheist explore extremism? My answer was to find something which I believe in and test the extremities of the theory.

“It was my intention to highlight that not all people who believe in Evolution are Social Darwinists, not all people who commit horrendous acts are unreasonable and not all likeable people are incapable of horror.

“And I aimed to do all of this without coming across as a preachy sanctimonious tosser.

“I graduated from LAMDA without an agent and it took me a year to sign, doing all sorts of fringe shows and taking every opportunity that presented itself to me.

“It was horrible to enter an industry with a sense of having already failed before I had even begun, a feeling which, in hindsight, I now know to be naive but one I know existed in each of the 280 applicants for (RE)Presented.

“This process is designed to give the actors a fresh start, to show them that making your own work is a viable and exciting route into theatre, to offer them a professional credit and another showcase for the industry”.

From Ground Up Theatre was created in 2013. Its debut production, Operation Crucible, opened at London’s Finborough Theatre and went on to tour the UK, having a sell-out, three-week, run at The Sheffield Crucible. It transfers to New York this May.

Comet runs at Stage Space, Pleasance Theatre, Islington from February 27 – March 18

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