We Can Be Heroes – Interview with Dick Bonham
“For anyone who’s ever tied a sheet around their shoulders and ran around with one arm outstretched, We Can Be Heroes is the production for you.”
A story about growing up and facing your fears, it follows two boys, Patrick and Mark from ten years old to adulthood, as they embark on a journey that teaches them what it takes to become real-life superheroes.
Northern Lights caught up with Dick Bonham, one of the brains behind the latest Sometimes We Play production:
“I feel that our vision came across perfectly, I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out” Dick explained.
Of course, there are factors of what makes a good play. Whether it’s the balance between comedy and thoughtfulness or incorporating audience participation, there’s always something that brings the audience back.
So what is it about We Can Be Heroes that makes it stand out? “I think everyone has their fears about growing up. The central characters are teenagers and it’s a time when they are all thinking about their place in the world and what they might eventually be and I think that’s very relatable. It’s an exciting time, but also a tricky time. There’s a lot within this to think about.”
Dick and the team were initially inspired by a conversation on the phenomenon of real-life heroes: “you know, the guys who take on characters or come up with their own identities and go out into the community and try to do some good, whether that’s going to feed the homeless or cutting clamps off cars. We were just thinking about why people want to do that, and then there was the initial idea for We Can Be Heroes!”
The beauty of the show, Dick says, is that anyone can enjoy and identify with it – whether they’re fans of superheroes or not: “I can’t wait to get this show in front of audiences as we head out on tour. It’s been such a pleasure working with this creative team – our performers are second to none at engaging with people and making them feel part of the action. Their telling of the story is funny and warm, and full of believable human touches”.
Speaking of the human touch, Dick mentions that there’s an element of audience participation: “We love to acknowledge the audience and are constantly breaking down the 4th wall. It’s quite loose – if something unplanned happens, everyone will respond to it. At the end of the day, we’re telling you a story, and you’re along for the ride!”
The main characters Patrick and Mark are played by Martin Boger and Richard Weiss, both highly respected actors in their field. Bogner can often be found working in devised theatre. His many credits include BBC Radio 4’s The Spellbound Horses and Camden People’s Theatre’s Of Women And Horses I have Known. We can only suspect that a production completely devoid of horses may be a nice change for him. On Bonger, Dick said: “It’s always an absolute pleasure working with him. He’s full of ideas and is constantly pushing at the edges of what you’re doing, so you’re always getting better. He’s got so much energy”.
Of Richard, Dick said: “He’s a fantastic performer; I’ve worked with him several times already”.
Sometimes We Play created a multi-disciplinary performance, bringing in sound installations to suit different audiences in both theatre and public spaces, making sure that you’re getting the most out of their shows. Based on the collaborative approach created by Dick himself, along with his colleague Jamie Fletcher, who have toured throughout the UK, receiving commissions from some of the country’s most innovative venues.
On the subject of character development, Dick says he related to both of the main characters: “They’re both very different – Patrick is more headstrong and quick to take action, but he doesn’t always get it right. I can definitely identify with that. But also, Mark is really thoughtful like me.”