Intermission at St Saviour's Church, found in the heart of Knightsbridge, opens its doors tonight for the first time on a professional theatre production. Cracking The Whip is the tale of a Hackney drug dealer who has a life changing experience; he finds himself transported to a 1798 South Virginia slave plantation where he is no longer at the top of the food chain.
St Saviour's Church has hosted Intermission, a project started by former actor Rev Rob Gillion, since 2002. At that time the church lay derelict and Gillion was invited to do something creative with it. His choice was to bring theatre and religion together.
Speaking about this process, Gillion said: "I believe in the transforming power of theatre as well as I believe in the transforming power of the Christian faith. So to bring those two together was such an exciting opportunity. I also believe that the actor's task is to step into people's shoes and reflect life… well that’s exactly what I do, step into other people's shoes and find out how they hurt, and walk with them."
Cracking The Whip is written by Darren Raymond, Artistic Director of Intermission Actors, and Fabian Spencer, who are both reformed offenders. In response to the themes within the play, Intermission is taking part in a summer programme using theatre to inspire young offenders and those at risk of offending.
Intermission has been running for five years, presenting plays, recitals, concerts and exhibitions, but this is the first time it has created a professional company. Gillion is keen to point out, however, that Intermission is not a company solely for Christians; it is a company that works to a Christian ethos to create inclusive theatre: "It's theatre for everyone. It's embracing of everyone. The themes are about being the best human being you can be. That's what theatre does, it reflects back on what we ought to be aspiring to. Of course, that's the same as faith."
Cracking The Whip runs at Intermission between 26 July and 4 August.