“This is our Road”

From a distance I’ve respected the skill of actors – in the way a poet respects a great teacher but I hadn’t realised the sheer work ethic. Every day for the past five weeks between 10am and 6pm, (and from 10am to 10pm on some days) I’ve been rehearsing ROAD by Jim Cartwright at The Royal Court Theatre. The director is  Olivier award winning John Tiffany. The movement director is Jonathan Watkins, The Artistic director of The Royal Court Theatre is Vicky Featherstone.  Here  we all are. The ensemble cast: Michelle Fairley, Mark Hadfield, Faye Marsay, Mike Noble, Dan Parr, Lemn Sissay, June Watson, Liz White and Shane Zaza.

Tonight is the first preview. There are previews each night until press night on 28th July.  The play will be on each night until Mid September.  Road is the story of one night on one road in a small Lancashire town in the mid nineteen eighties. That is exactly when I lived there. I didn’t fit in then and I don’t fit in now. So I’m perfectly placed. Theatre is full of misfits:  Outsiders looking in. Insiders looking out.  Acting is self centred and selfless in equal measure.  Isn’t all art?  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. After all it’s where I am from.

My character in ROAD  is Scullery. He  was played famously by Ian Dury.  But Ian Dury I am not.   Edward Tudor Pole also played the part. Edward Tudor Pole I am not.    ROAD is full of people I grew up with. Their children where in the  children’s homes with me.   For a time  this was my world. Pic above.  It is an honour to revist through the poetic political and deeply personal writing of Jim Cartwright.   The actors have been nurturing to me in the way  lions would to a  cat who’d wandered into their pride.    I am loving it. I am loving them.  I am loving this.

There’s a lot of other stuff going on in the background.  I’ve  a new series on BBC Radio four which was commissioned yesterday.  Some exciting TV stuff for Ten Pieces presented with  Naomi Wilkinson.  There’s. a public art poem going up in Old Trafford on Saturday.  There’s a concerto coming up at The Proms inspired by a poem of mine called Spark Catchers.  I received my paperback from Canongate Books through the post today.

A painting yours truly  on display at The National Portrait gallery is advertised in  tube stations in London…..  


The other day I did a Letters Live with some incredible actors including Amanda Babbington, Alan Carr, NickMoran,  Zawe Ashton, John Simms and more.  Seeyou next time.

19 thoughts on ““This is our Road”

  1. Hi Lemn so good to be reading your blog. You’ve been missed. You sound happy, a little more settled maybe. Enjoy the experience and the wonderful sense of belonging – even if only just for now- that you described. There are other homes on other roads yet unexplored. With love audrey X

  2. “From a distance I’ve respected the skill of actors – in the way a poet respects a great teacher but I hadn’t realised the sheer work ethic. ” Dear Lemn I truly believe this applies to all perofessions and you can only admire and apperciate the tenacity and perseverance when you walk the walk. I wish you all the best and I have no doubt your performance is going to be a class act.

  3. The show sounds fantastic. Exciting! I remember going to see a couple of plays at the Royal Court when I was about 16 when we moved to London (from Teesside) in the mid 1980s. Glad to see they are still putting on the top talent!

  4. Hi Lemn,
    It sounds so refreshing! Just trying something different and with a great group of people. I am so happy for you and a little jealous. You are in prime time now… enjoy
    I am in a bit of care taking mode but lucky to have friends to break up the routines with. Wish I could see the play.

  5. Saw this at the Octagon in Bolton with the amazing John Henshaw was wonderful, all human life lives and passes through that “road” it was loke “Too (Two) in a diffetent setting but obviously more people .
    Loved it

  6. Oh to be in the world of acting. All our lives we act so as not to loose face.
    But you Lemn have bared your soul, brave man!
    Go well.

  7. Dear Lemn , it seems to me you are always on the road ,hence no surprise to find you in the play Road.I am sure it will be a wonderful experience keep on spreading your talent around.Take cars xx

  8. So powerful! Road, way, path, journey we are all on our own unique ones. Currently reading ” the old ways” by Robert McFarlane – very poetic and moving – taps into the primal, the physical and the emotional sides of us all. Love your poems Lemn xx

  9. The lovely Livvy Gaffey and I saw the play on Friday… it was amazing. Took me back to the 80s; it was extremely powerful. Cannot wait to see you in October at the Martin Harris Centre. Keep inspiring…. Love Jo and Livvy x

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