Cate Blanchett stars as Barnham-based Joe Harmston directs

Martin Shaw, Cate Blanchett and Joe Harmston - photo by Marilyn Kingwill
Martin Shaw, Cate Blanchett and Joe Harmston - photo by Marilyn Kingwill

Barnham-based theatre director Joe Harmston brought film star Cate Blanchett to London’s Middle Temple Hall for a celebrity play-reading.

As artistic director of the Kalisher Trust, Joe produces a rehearsed reading performance of a new play each year at the venue to highlight topical issues in the law.

The Kalisher Trust aims to “transform the lives of bright young people through the development of advocacy skills.”

It has two central aims: “to help bright youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve their potential through advocacy and to help those with the requisite ability and ambition to develop careers as barristers at the criminal bar.”

This year, Joe brought together a reading of Land of the Free by award-winning playwright Diane Samuels. It was a complete sell-out at Middle Temple Hall.

This year’s event was led by Cate Blanchett, with Martin Shaw, Ako Mitchell, Paul Herzberg. Lydia Lennard, David Osmond, Roman Upton, Hannah Blaikie and Bea Harmston.

Joe said: “I asked Cate if she would consider taking part in the annual Kalisher Trust play reading. It was a wild long shot and to my delight and amazement she said yes by return because the work of the trust – to increase diversity of all kinds in the judiciary – chimed with her interests.

“I was terribly nervous but Cate, and her son Roman (making his debut public appearance), were joyous to work with and delivered amazing performances in Diane Samuels’ new play.

“Cate and our other special guest Amal Clooney then spent time talking to and inspiring our young student lawyers. It was a very special evening for all concerned.

“It is always a concern when you work with people you've admired for ages but Cate had every quality she exudes on screen in a script-in-hand play reading rehearsed in an afternoon. “She slotted in with the rest of our fantastic cast led by Martin Shaw (also president of the Trust and a tireless supporter) and her presence not only created an electric evening but also helped us raise nearly £20,000 for our scholarships and education outreach work.

“Her generosity in fittting us in amongst all the other demands on her time was incredibly kind and a huge boost to the team who work endlessly in the background to make a real change at the criminal bar.” for more information.

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