Graham R. Rispin, who plays Stryver, Defarge, Gabelle, and French Aristocrat 2, tells us about his experience on A Tale of Two Cities so far...

Graham is from Bishop Auckland and studied with BATH (Bishop Auckland Theatre Hooligans). He has been a vocalist in a number of sci-fi punk bands and also performed in Kynren - An Epic Tale of England which led to him being cast in A Tale of Two Cities. He has enjoyed the rehearsal process, which has been a huge learning curve and which has rekindled his passion for theatre. Playing four characters has been a challenge, especially as Graham works shifts, including nights. But he’s enjoyed rehearsals so much he has decided sleep is for the weak. Vive la révolution!

When I auditioned for A Tale of Two Cities I didn’t really know what to expect. I studied drama as a youth so I was somewhat prepared for the audition process which was a lot of fun and brought back a few memories. Even though I was performing in the night spectacle Kynren in front of nearly 8000 people per show I was still very nervous. I really wasn’t expecting to be offered the roles I have been offered, which left me somewhat taken aback when I first got the script.

The first two weeks of rehearsals were spent with Katy and Kane. We played a plethora of games that included tongue twisters, word games, ball games, running with our eyes shut and pretending to be animals with ulterior motives - it was lots of fun. I feel those first weeks were the most important part of the rehearsal process so far as it helped the cast as a whole to bond and start to get to know each other in preparation for working with each other in the coming weeks.

After the first two weeks we were split into two groups, the acting company and the ensemble, and we were put to the task of running the scenes and transitions working for the first time with director Ed. The first thing the acting company did was read through and run scene one, the first trial of Charles Darnay in the Old Bailey. We were put through our paces and honestly I struggled on the first run through however once Ed got some of the acting company in on the action playing the parts the ensemble play heckling the witnesses I found my feet with the character Stryver, because of this it really hit home with me how important the ensemble are in this production: their interactions and transitions bring the scenes to life and drive the whole play.

After a few weeks of rehearsal, Ed left us in the hands of Katy, who has diligently run us through our scenes week by week over the last month, helping us to further understand our characters' relationships within the story and running us through the play, integrating the transitions between scenes performed by the ensemble.

We are now in Central Hall in the Dolphin Centre which is an amazing space I had never seen before. Being in the space for the first time was great. We are in our final few weeks running up to the shows and needless to say I think we are all abuzz with nervous excitement.