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| Niamh Hicks

Reflections from the Cast of Born and Bread

At the end of October 2023, BPT’s most recent show exploded onto the stage at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) in a beautiful burst of salt, oil, yeast, flour, injera, ABBA, egg and chips, cabbage, butter, potatoes, bananas, and a tree made of pots and pans! 

The cast of Born and Bread warming up before the show. 

Most importantly of all, it was all brought to life by our fabulous all-singing-all-dancing baker chorus of 25 brilliant Brighton people.  We want to take a moment to celebrate this incredible cast and everything they have achieved over the last six months.

“It was such a mix of emotions, from fear, to immense pride and a sense of being part of something so special, that I really wanted to share further than the weekend of performances we did.”

As we began the rehearsal process, with two separate casts to perform it, we started to realise that Born and Bread was *ahem* a little bit ambitious. 

A show in the round. A show with live cooking onstage. A show where the cast fed the whole audience. A show performed by two casts, most of whom had never done anything like this before. A show which required every cast member to hold two versions of the show in their head at the same time. A show where our non-professional cast is present onstage all the time. A show with some very challenging dialogue, 6 difficult songs and complicated physical scores to learn. A show where a huge tree made of pots and pans is pulled out of the central table. Apart from that it was, you know, really straightforward. 

“It felt so unbelievably magical. The community in the space and even before hand just felt so amazing and I can’t wait for the next thing.”

Time and time again the cast rose to these challenges and blew us away with their care for each other and their playfulness. It wasn’t easy. It was hard and joyous. But this joy was won with energy, attention, dedication, and hours of work in and out of rehearsals, squeezed into busy lives. And as we put in the hard (joyous) hours, the show started to pick up its own life, rhythm and ease, as did the community that blossomed out of it.

From our perspective, the show was a massive success. We had 4 fully sold-out shows. Nearly 700 audience members despite train strikes, and a Drum and Bass festival in the field next door to ACCA on Saturday. 

As our own dance circle emerged at the B&B wrap party after the final performance – watching the freedom everyone had to strut, to play, to be utterly silly in front of each other, to read poems, to make spontaneous heartfelt speeches about what being part of it had meant to them – it was clear that finding togetherness is an important part of what we are doing. 

“It was one of the most exciting things I’ve done in a while. It felt like we’re creating a community through food, laughter, love, rehearsals and games. I’m so happy to have been a part on this amazing journey with everyone.”

The roots of this togetherness go deep into the ground, and the six months of Born and Bread rehearsals have built us a home of our own in this work. In this ensemble. 

The anxiety. The effort. Struggle. Hope. Concentration. Connection. Unity. Creativity. Freedom. Joy. Ease. All of it was present in that dance circle. Bad dance moves and new friends making the world feel a little smaller, warmer, and closer. 

What have we learned? Enough to fill a very large mixing bowl. But for now, we want to say a huge congratulations to the cast for all that they achieved together. They were absolutely brilliant.

All photos were taken by the brilliant Rosie Powell.