Rehearsals of Comedy: a Tragedy in One Act

The Young Man (Sandy Batchelor) starts to melt down in rehearsals of the play

Rehearsals of Comedy: a Tragedy in One Act

The Ascetic (Anneli Page) and the Proud Youth (Conor Craig-Stephens) stand up to each other as they rehearse for the play

Rehearsals of Comedy: a Tragedy in One Act

Old Man 1 (Robert Ashe) & Old Man 2 (Ian Macnaughton) rehearsing the opening scene of the play

Rehearsals of Comedy: a Tragedy in One Act

From left to right: Young Man (Sandy Batchelor), Young Woman (Tara Crabbe), Child (Danielle Tabor), Mother (Shereen Grey)


Stephen Oswald directs a rehearsal of the ensemble cast of Comedy: a Tragedy in One Act

How On Earth Did We Get There?

So, here we are…the budget is in place, the cast is in place and we start rehearsals on Monday. How on Earth did we get here?

It all began so innocently with a conversation between myself, the Artistic Director Stephen and our other Executive Producer, Tara in October 2013. She told us that she’d had a discussion with someone she worked with called Lewis and he had a proposition for us – to put on a previously unperformed play in the UK by a man none of us had ever heard of – Nikos Kazantzakis. We said it sounded interesting…

Fast forward 3 months. We’re doing the play!

We need to find a venue – do we go for cheaper but not so high-profile or high-profile but more expensive? The pressure is on – we’re supposed to be putting the play on in a few weeks. There’s so much to do!

Also, a new element has thrown us a curveball. The play is now going to be filmed by EntertainingTV. We met Liz and Mark and got on well with them but this just ratcheted up the pressure.

But then the money stalled so no plans could be made.

Another month later…still no money. We enter a period of limbo where no one is sure what will happen and even if the project will take place. A weird place to be – it’s still very exciting but there’s nowhere to focus the excitement.

Yet another month later…we have organised 2 workshop days at Pushkin House (very kindly funded by EdmissionUK), gathering together some of the actors we have worked with previously. Two very interesting and exciting days of exploration of the text and surrounding themes of Kazantzakis’ work take place. This gives us even more ideas of what we can do with this marvellous piece of writing and fires the Director (Stephen) up even further.

But still no money

March 2014 – after discussions with Dr Lewis Owens and Liz at EntertainingTV we’ve decided (very wisely) to postpone the production until May to allow time for the funding to come through and give us all more preparation time.

April – the money has arrived!!! After a few months of relative inactivity it’s suddenly all systems go.  Casting is managed (no one expected to get almost 2000 applicants!) and the budget set. Who knew that producing a one-night show would involve such a lot of work.

The minutiae of mounting the production, sorting out the programme layout, set, lighting, costume, risk assessments, fire-proofing, marketing strategies. Basically the list appears endless. The three of us meet every Sunday thinking we’ve done everything we have to do. We always leave with another list of ‘to-do’ items as long as your arm.

So here we are. The fantastic cast is in place, the set is under construction, costumes are sorted, lines are being learned and marketing is ongoing.

I’m still not sure how it’s all happened. It’s simultaneously been a whirlwind and a slow-motion film (probably set to the tune of Chariots Of Fire). It feels like a long distance run and we’re slowly reaching the finishing line.

All I know is that it’s been one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had.

Our third production as The Canting Crew and we’re at Sadler’s Wells! On the 31st

Who’d have thought…

Simon Mitelman is an Executive Producer and Finance Manager at The Canting Crew and will be playing The Fool in the play.


A Nikos Kazantzakis Play to be Staged for the First Time in the UK


6 May 2014

A Nikos Kazantzakis Play to be Staged for the First Time in the UK

Comedy: A Tragedy in One Act will be performed for the first time in the UK at Sadler’s Wells on 31 May 2014.

The play is being staged by the innovative emerging theatre company The Canting Crew and has been made possible with the support of Kazantzakis Publications, Ethnos Newspaper Group, EdmissionUK and EntertainingTV.

Kazantzakis wrote Comedy in 1909 while he was still young but it already explores some of the challenging and original thinking that was to mark much of his later work.  More than 50 years on from his death, Kazantzakis remains a divisive figure and his religious thought continues to resonate in the context of today’s religious debate. Continue reading

How the Project Came About

The clarity of Kazantzakis’ vision speaks to an intellectual or pragmatic human being in equal measure. His work shows a moment in time that anyone can dive into; a fact that became abundantly clear one damp October evening in London, St Pancras International where I met Dr Lewis Owens, one of the leading academics on the work of Kazantzakis, and spoke to him of The Canting Crew’s latest experiences delving into the space between audience and actor, and evolving work that was to take place in that gap. As I went on to describe our interest in looking directly into the abyss to find our growing work; the more uncomfortable elements of humanity that most human beings prefer to look away from until the last moments of death; it resounded for Lewis, an organic exploration of the fundamental parts of life, encapsulated in the form of Kazantzakis’ previously unexplored Comedy. Thus the seeds were born to stage a production that brought the highest philosophical elements of Existentialism down to earth in the most realistic and human of ways, by actors trained to speak out uncomfortable truths, with intimacy and awareness. Continue reading