My name is Sean Warren, and I am a keen Actor and would like this to become my profession. In late October 2014, at the age of 14, I was cast to play the role of 17 year old Juergan Bauer, a member of the Edelweiss Pirates. This was my biggest acting break in a lead role, and I was surrounded by amazing acting talents including Hani Hussein (Rutger and Oberkamerashaftsfuere/Oberman), Fayed Mahmoud (Benjamin/Benji Dressler), Mo Samuels (Dieter Ackerman), Anna English (Klaus Becker), Anastaisa Drew (Petra Gleissner) and Dominique (Dom) Thomas (Narrator). We spent around 5 months in weekend rehearsals pulling the show together, sharing experiences, techniques and having many laughs along the way.
I was very nervous entering into the auditions, especially as I only knew Charlie Pepperell form my local church. I really liked the script and the concept of the play – the more I got into the audition, the more I wanted to be a part of this show and experience. I worked with Hani, Mo and Dominque for the audition scene, where I read the role of Juergan. It was here we nicknamed one of the characters ‘Oberman’ as none of us could say the full name at this point. Two weeks later, I was shocked to receive a call back, where again I read the role of Juergan and met up with some familiar faces.
Then early one Friday morning I received the email I had been dreaming about – I had been cast as one of the lead roles for the production, playing the gritty character I had through the auditions of Juergan – the ‘angry teenager’. It was great to see so many familiar names on the cast list as well.
And so the hard work began. Initial rehearsals were set for October half term. Despite being away my time was well spent reading books and internet stories on the real Edelweiss Pirates group and understanding what they went through and why. This was time well spent for me on a sun lounger….
From then onwards we spent every Thursday and Sunday up to Christmas rehearsing scenes, and building bonds, both on and off stage. I had to miss a weekend as I was due to Auschwitz on a school trip, but Emma and Charlie were ok with that as it got treated as ‘research’ for the whole group as none of us had ever been and it formed a critical part of the show emotionally. By the time we broke for Christmas, all the scenes had been set, the plot understood the only issue was everyone learning their lines – I think everyone was a little concerned by this point as we only had the first 6 weeks of the New Year before showtime!
As they say in show business – it will be alright on the night – and so it was. We opened on Monday afternoon to a theatre half full which really helped with the nerves. The performance ran like clockwork and gave us all confidence that we could nail this in the evening when the National Theatre rep was in the house. However, we were not so lucky in the evening performance in front of a sold out audience– the supporting PowerPoint show refused to work, and despite Dom and the rest of us carrying on as nothing was wrong, Emma eventually conceded and informed the audience we would re-start the show. For those of us who had performed already, we all agreed to give the audience a fresh show so said our lines in a different way and Mo even found a new dance.
In front of lots of friends and family, I and the rest of the cast put on the performance of our lives, one that will live with me forever as my first major acting achievement. The audience and most importantly the National Theatre rep loved it and the feedback we got was very positive and complimentary, especially to Emma and the team for all their hard work.
After a few weeks break, we restarted rehearsals ready for our one night in London. It was amazing getting together with the cast again, almost like a big family reunion. The night in the Bush Theatre was huge for all of us. No one had ever performed on a London stage before and I get goose bumps just thinking about it.
The Bush theatre is a converted library so there is no raised stage and the audience is in the round. This meant we needed to completely restage the stage, weaving in the elements that had worked so well at Hampton into a new environment. This was good practice for us as actors because it showed us the skills we would need to adapt a show to the circumstances that the theatre that was holding it was in. this was good for me because it showed me different elements that I would have to perform in because I had only been use to front of stage audiences before and it gave me an opportunity to change and try out.
Reviews we got from the show at the Bush theatre was that it was the best time we had ever performed the show and that it should be worthy of the National Theatre. The main thing I remember from the Bush theatre was how the men actors had to us a little green space as our changing room whilst the girls got the long and massive changing room which had all the stuff and actor would need such as mirrors and stage lighting around them. It was so unfair but we all laughed and joked about it.
Unfortunately we didn’t win the competition but I don’t think anyone of us feels we could have done anymore with that show. Emma and the team should be very proud of the amazing show they directed with a group of people who didn’t know each other 5 months earlier. It was an emotional story that was brilliantly bought to life by young people. I congratulate the group that got to the National Theatre with this show and I thank all the people I have worked with for the past 6 months in creating this show and making it become a huge spectacular that it is now for the actors and the audience that have seen the performances.