Daniel Ward Talks … Tambo & Bones

Daniel Ward plays ‘Bones’ in Tambo & Bones currently showing at the Theatre Royal Stratford East …

Tambo & Bones written by David Harris and directed by Matthew Xia takes a satirical look at two friends stuck in a minstrel show who decide to come up with a plan to get out, get rich, and get even.

A busy slate of work ahead of him Ward shares why the script for Tambo & Bones resonated with him …

Please introduce yourself …

My name is Daniel Ward, I’m an actor and a writer, sometimes producer, sometimes director, from Mitcham, South London.

Why Tambo & Bones?

I was offered the chance to audition for Tambo & Bones while I was doing my last project (Cat On a Hot Tin Roof at Manchester Royal Exchange). As soon as I read the script I thought, ‘oh okay‘, this is trying to say something; to do something and immediately it was a project I was drawn to because of the challenge of it both as an actor and because of the message that Dave Harris is trying to get across. It’s a challenging play that forces us to examine uncomfortable truths and I’m excited to see what audiences take away from it.

Tell us about your character and what their goal is …

I play Bones in Tambo & Bones. Bones doesn’t realise that he is a Minstrel and when he finds out it triggers something in him that is ambitious and driven. He wants to better himself and escape the fact that he’s been this fake person by somebody else’s design. He’s fun, vulnerable and ambitious.

Tell us about working with your fellow cast …

Rhashan Stone plays Tambo and it’s a joy to work with him. He’s a very playful actor – he always offers loads, keeps you on your toes, keeps you listening and he’s been around for quite a long time. He’s experienced and knows what he’s doing and it’s a pleasure to be in a room with him. He’s GOAT.

What does the story of Tambo & Bones mean to you personally?

Tambo & Bones is about authenticity, the dangers of toxic masculinity, capitalism. It’s about ownership of your power, relationships. It’s about a lot – and I think there will be something for everyone to take away from this show. You’ll never have seen a show like and I’m not sure you’ll see a show like it again.

Daniel Ward as Bones in Tambo & Bones – Theatre Royal Stratford East


Tell us about a challenging moment during this project that you had to dig deep to get through it?

I think, externally, the challenging moment from this project would have been when we had The Telegraph print an article which stated, incorrectly, that we had urged all white people not to attend the theatre. There was a lot of noise about that article that went viral and was all over the place. But internally, in the actual room, we just stayed focussed on the work and the story we were trying to tell and didn’t let the world, the internet, the buzz derail what we were doing in the rehearsal room. Nothing much changed for us, we got on with our jobs, and didn’t engage because that’s a losing battle.

Tell us a memorable moment on set?

I mean there’s a lot of stories I could tell on Tambo & Bones. I’ve got little nieces and nephews that wanted to come and see this and I’m like No! No! No! There’s an age limit on it for a reason. You see the poster and it’s quite shiny and bright but a lot of the memorable moments will be about people using the wrong swear word at the wrong time. I don’t want to elaborate more than that to be perfectly honest because when you see it you’ll understand.

Highs, lows, solutions?

The difficulty has been the work, working on Bones as a character in order to bring the play to life and I think that’s the way it always should be. I don’t think there’s been anything that I’ve particularly had to overcome in terms of this process, it’s been very enjoyable and we’ve been focusing on the work and the challenges that it brings and that’s always a positive thing to have in a work environment, any work environment. The work should be the hardest thing to do.

Which scene or character best defines what you love about this project? [without spoilers of course]

What I love about this project is that you never know where this play is going. You just can’t, unless you’ve read it it goes left, right, up, down. There’s a level of unpredictability that exists within both the characters and the text. And there has to be because we interact with the audience at points in the show and you never know what they’re going to give you. And that’s an ongoing thing throughout this, all those playful elements that best define the kind of tone of Tambo & Bones.

Rhashan Stone as Tambo, Daniel Ward as Bones in Tambo & Bones – Theatre Royal Stratford East

Considering your career evolution, where does this project sit on your checklist?

Ooh I don’t know. I always approach projects with an open heart, an open mind, and kind of go with my gut and see where it will take me. I think it’s a great play and a great piece of art and that’s always kind of what I’m drawn to. I’m drawn to the art of a project and I find myself doing stuff that usually resonates with me on some level or evokes a reaction in me. That’s always something that I find interesting to explore both as an actor and a writer. I’m really happy to be here and enjoy this moment but I don’t have a long term career plan – I just keep hustling, just keep working and see where it takes me.

What’s next?

I’ve got a play that I’ve written that’s on at Brixton House as part of the Housemates Festival called Everything I own which is on immediately after this, 19th – 2nd July and then I’m in a TV show that’s coming out called Everything Now, that should be coming out on Netflix later in the year. It’s sort of in the same space as Sex Education and Heartstopper. It’s a kind of young teen drama so that’s cool – I’m not playing a teen though, I’m the PE teacher.

How do we keep up to date with you and your work?

You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @datywar.

When and where can we go and see Tambo & Bones?

You can see Tambo & Bones at Theatre Royal Stratford East, 16 June to 15 July. Come along, have fun. It’ll be good. Thanks you very much guys. Love.

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