Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Jack Condon: If. Destroyed. Still. True.

By | Published on Friday 22 April 2022

Opening this week at The Hope Theatre is a new work with a rather memorable title from a young and ambitious company. 

‘If. Destroyed. Still. True.’ – the debut work of Jawbones Theatre – tackles themes of identity, class, and how life can pull people apart. 

I was really interested in the show, and was determined to find out more about the creatives behind it, so I arranged a chat with Jack Condon, who wrote the play and also takes a role in it. 

CM: Can you start by telling us what the play is all about? What story does it tell?
JC: It’s a play about identity; who we always were and who we are growing into… We meet James, John and Charlotte, three young people venturing into adulthood.

James sees his two worlds collide when he introduces his university girlfriend Charlotte to his best mate John, who still lives in the same working-class seaside town they grew up in. We continue to revisit them over ten years, watching as life changes them.

The play asks the question ‘what happens when the place you grew up can no longer be called home?’ There are loads of funny bits too – promise!

CM: What themes does it explore?
JC: Friendship, grief and how we move forward after loss: universal things we’ll all inevitably experience at some point in our lives. Social isolation and mental health in working-class communities are also central themes of the piece and something I feel is very important to open conversations about, particularly in the post lockdown world.

CM: What was the inspiration for it? What made you want to write a play with this topic and themes?
JC: I’m tired of seeing watered down or patronising representations of working-class characters on stage. I read so many texts while training at RADA, but rarely came across something that truly captured the lives and voices that surrounded me growing up. I want to put these lives on stage with heart and compassion. 

CM: When you were writing it, were you planning to also act in it?
JC: Right at the start, yes – the play’s journey began following a conversation with Theo – playing James – and we created a wild ten minute piece that we performed together. So much has changed since, and as the play has developed and morphed my desire to be in it has come and gone… however, now we’re here, it just felt right that I slip into the role of John for this production. 

CM: Can you tell us about your fellow cast members?
JC: They’re absolutely brilliant. They’ve been part of the core team on this play for a long time now. We worked together on a staged reading at Jermyn Street Theatre’s Footprints Festival almost a year ago – the reading that led to ‘If. Destroyed. Still. True.’ being programmed by The Hope! It’s a real privilege to have Whitney and Theo bringing my debut play to life. 

CM: Can you tell us about your director? How does the fact that you are both playwright and performer affect your dynamic?
JC: Sarah is an incredible director and has been attached to the piece for a long time. She’s had a dramaturgical eye on the play from very early on which makes for great understanding in the room… we began on day one with a pre-existing shorthand which has made for fast and effective work.

I switch my actor-brain on in the room, and discussions about cuts and edits to the writing we find time for around rehearsing.  

CM: Did you always want to write as well as act? Where did your interest in theatre come from?
JC: I’ve always admired great writing, and for long periods in my life didn’t think it was something that was ‘for me’… but after training at RADA and seeing the gap in what stories were out there I felt compelled to put pen to paper and shine some light on what I’ve coined ‘epic everyday’ lives and their stories. 

CM: What steps did you take to begin a career in the arts?
JC: Once I’d decided I wanted to be an actor I threw myself into as many community and youth theatre groups as I could. IdeasTap (RIP) and the RADA Youth Company – an amazing and totally free course – were massive influences for me. 

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
JC: I have so many stories to tell and plan on bringing them to life on both stage and screen, this is only the beginning of my writing career. As an actor, I’ll continue working on projects I’m passionate about, with good people I’m excited to work with. Making the work that matters.

CM: This is the first production from Jawbones Theatre, isn’t it? Was it set up to produce this show? What hopes do you have for it going forward?
JC: Sarah and I had been talking about forming a company for a while, and when ‘If. Destroyed. Still. True.’ was programmed by The Hope it felt like the right time to follow through.

I’m pleased to say it’s been a real success and we will no doubt continue making work together. Though thank you too to Rebecca Lyle – who runs Lyle Productions – who’ve been incredible to collaborate with!

We have some Jawbones workshops coming up with schools and community groups in areas underserved by the arts, as well as the online premiere of the filmed version of ‘If. Destroyed. Still. True’.

CM: And what about the live version of ‘If. Destroyed. Still. True.’? Do you have any plans for it after the London run?
JC: Yes. When our run at The Hope has concluded we plan to launch a tour of the show. We want to take it to communities around the UK with limited access to the arts, giving people the opportunity to see themselves on stage in our story, perhaps for the first time. We’re here to prove theatre is for all.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
JC: I’m currently working on an ambitious new theatre project, and I’m developing a short film with BAFTA-associate company Bigger Pictures Productions. As an actor – what can I say – you never know what might be round the corner… 

‘If. Destroyed. Still. True.’ is on at The Hope Theatre from 26 Apr-14 May. For more info and to book tickets head to the venue website here.

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