It was written by American playwright David Moberg who’s based in Florida, he also runs notech theatre, as to make it easier for companies to perform plays with little to no tech which is great idea especially for a company like ourselves who are just starting out and have limited funding and resources. I believe this is the first play that he has written and this will the first run of Teaching a dillo to cross the road, this side of the pond. The main elements that inspire the play are bereavement and how that effects the family unit, mental illness in the form alcoholism and delusions, physical illness with dementia being quite predominant in the plays action as well as human emotions such as guilt, regret, shame and hope.
Tell us more about Tennessee Theatre Company. What's the company's history and background?
Tennessee Theatre Company was founded by actress Rebecca Calienda in 2016 it was after a stint at the Edinburgh fringe festival, Rebecca decided she wanted to start creating her own theatre productions on returning to London and produce work that aims to effect an audience. She was also keen to collaborate with like minded individuals. Tennessee Theatre Company takes its name from Rebecca’s faverioute playwright Tennessee Williams. Teaching a dillo to cross the road will be Tennessee Theatre Companys first production, the play was picked as Rebecca liked the idea of taking a new writing piece which hasn’t been performed before as it felt like a fresh slate to start with for this new company.
We have a fantastic cast involved,
Will Bentar played by Daniel Chrisostomou , a fourth Monkey alumni who was recently nominated for best off west end actor for his portrayal of Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man, Daniel has also trained as a clown, physical theatre and Meisner. He has recently returned from a year and a half tour of Germany and China with Twelfth Night playing Malvolio
May Bentar played by Rebecca Calienda, a The Method Studio graduate after studying Stanislavski and Strasberg for two years, she then went on to study Meisner with the Actors Studio, Actors Temple and an intensive course with Scott Williams who trained directly under Sanford Mesiner at the San Francisco Playhouse. Her recent credits include the UK tour of Macbeth where she played Macbeth, Twiggy in feature film Dead Unicorns and she is due to shoot feature film Criminal Audition this summer.
HOPE played Anna Chessher a drama centre graduate who also trained at the Moscow Boris Shchkin Theatre institute. Her recent credits include Fireburn the tragedy of Macbeth, UK tour, Richard the II at the York theatre Royal and a leading role for short film Dress Code, Mute series.
CHASE played by Callum Tempest Callum trained at CPA studios his Credits include: Dorimant in Man of Mode (Upstairs at The Gatehouse), Prince Gorgeous in Sleeping Beauty (Princes Hall, Aldershot), Peter Crow in Six-Five Rock N Roll Express (The Assembly Hall Theatre, Alex in Manmade (Westminster Film School), Chris in How to Solve a Problem Like Murder (UnCorked Theatre)
FLO will be played by Olivia Foan, Olivia is a recent graduate from The Oxford School of Drama. Whilst training she performed in productions of Closer, Philistines, Measure for Measure. She recently appeared in Flashes at The Soho Theatre, written by Isley Lynn and directed by Polina Kalinina. Before drama school she attended The University of Bristol, studying Theatre, Film and Television, and appeared in several productions such as Hedda Gabler, Titus Andronicus and Arcadia.
We also have Richard Worland playing the role of Sam Bentar even though we never see Sam his actions are imperative to the play. Richards previous credits include As you like it, Barons court theatre and 50 ways to kill your lover, thumbs up productions. He is looking forward to giving Sam his voice in this piece.
Directing we have Annie Tanton, who trained as an actress in New York at New York Film Academy whilst there she played roles such as Arlene in getting out, and Alice in Till death do us part. Prior to that she trained at Birmingham School of acting and First diploma music, drama and dance at Heimdal College, Norway. Annie had her directing debut in 2012 where she co-produced and directed Two Sisters and a piano at the Leicester square theatre. She also co- runs revolutions productions and currently has a documentary style USA road trip drama in pre production.
What were the biggest challenges in bringing Teaching a dillo to cross the road to life?
Finding the right cast was extremely difficult, we saw a numerous amount of fantastic talent who were amazing but just not quite right for that specific role and as your trying to mix chemistry between the characters that has to come into consideration too. The other challenge was getting pacing right, its a fast play almost farcical is some aspects so we spent quite a lot time to get the rhythm right. The plays content is also pretty dark and at times outright grotesque so we wanted to draw out the lacing of humour in the text we have worked quite hard to make sure that that doesn’t get lost amongst all the tragedy.
And what can we most look forward to from your production?
A group of creatives, brining something to life for you to interpret how you feel best.
Teaching a dillo to cross the road runs 11th to 15th April only!