Nuffield Southampton Theatre are currently on tour with their production of the classic American play, The Grapes of Wrath based on the novel by John Steinbeck. The production opened on 14th March and will tour Nottingham Playhouse, Royal & Derngate, Northampton and the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Grapes of Wrath is set in the American dust bowl at the height of the Great Depression. One family begins an epic journey, driven as much by fear as by hope. Route 66 to California, the Promised Land. In search of work. A new life.
Actor, Andre Squire plays Tom Joad the focal character of the story. His theatre work includes Lonely Cowboy and The Refugee Boy (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Our Style is Legendary (Nottingham Playhouse). For television his work includes The Vice, Jamie Johnson, West 10 Ldn; and for film, Bypass.
#TBB10 caught up with Andre to tell us more…
1# Tell us about your character?
Tom Joad has just come out of jail for killing somebody in self-defence. Tom is a man of action and hot headed but he is also kind and warm, the play sees Tom grow from an ex con who has no concerns other than day to day living, to a man of the people who sees the whole world as his family and wants to fight for the people.
2# What attracted you to his role, what was the ‘thing’ about Tom Joad that you connected to?
The relevance to what’s happening nowadays regarding the so called refugee crisis. This play is so right for what’s happening right now and I love the journey of Tom; his character reminded me of Malcolm X. Before Malcolm became who he was, he was a hustler from Harlem. As the play comes to an end, we hear how Tom’s thinking, but never get to see it put into action, I can imagine if there was a “Grapes of Wrath” part 2 we would have seen the same kind of transition Malcolm X made.
3# Grapes of Wrath is a deeply classic American tale, how has this production taken on its legacy to make it relate to a modern audience?
Not much has changed, history is literally repeating itself, we are making the same mistakes they were making 100 years ago. Corporations and big business still comes before people. I read in the paper the other day [that] Haringey council plan to knock down a whole estate, displacing hundreds of people; some will have to leave the borough and even London! What’s that all about? You can’t even call your home a home any more!
4# Grapes of Wrath has been colourblind cast, how was this approached?
It’s never been a topic of conversation actually, so I will assume it’s left to the audience to take the production for what it is.
5# How was first night, do you get nervous at all?
I felt electric on the first night, you always get nerves before you hit the stage then it’s like the nerves turn into an adrenaline drug. There’s no high like it for me.
6# What was the first role you accepted, what did it mean to you, and how was it received?
The Vice on ITV alongside David Harewood & Ken Stott. I played a child in a children’s home. It was a dream come true getting picked up in a Jaguar, eating McDonald’s every day, I was a 13 year old kid living his dream.
7# When you’re not acting you’re… ?
Working with Kids in care for the YMCA.
8# Favourite play?
A this moment Grapes of Wrath [laughs]
9# What’s next for you?
CBBC series called, Jamie Johnson I will be playing Pete, the father of an aspiring footballer (series regular).
10# Favourite line Tom Joad says?
“You ain’t too darn old to take a drink are you”.
The Grapes of Wrath tour dates are as follows: