Get to know the cast and creatives of Jane Eyre

Meet the cast and creatives of our Courtyard production of Jane Eyre!

In the third and final week of rehearsals, the cast and creative team of Jane Eyre are almost ready for the curtain to go up! Jane Eyre is a Pro-Am, a production made up of professional actors, youth theatre members, and people from within the community. This makes for a more exciting and diverse company, who all learn from each other. Director David Durant says, “This is exactly why we created the Pro-Am in the first place, as a way to establish a talent development platform and a means to produce artistic work.” The whole cast and creative team have worked exceptionally hard over the last three weeks to create a production that is moving, inspiring, and full of talent! Each night, scenes have been plotted and rehearsed, following warm ups and exercises run by David Durant, Assistant Directors Jamie Hutton and Kate Ross, and the two professional actors, Natalie Spence and Matt Canny. The process has been a lot of fun and the whole team cannot wait for the run to begin! Get to know the cast and creatives of Jane Eyre a little better below!

Here are some behind the scenes pics from rehearsals so far…

Two women looking at each other smiling and holding hands with another woman stood behind them smiling

A man stands with his back to camera. A woman and two other men stand looking at him, shocked.

A woman looking teary faces forwards. A man standing at the side of her looks at her intently

A woman stands with her back to camera. Two young girls crouch together, looking at her fearfully

A young woman sits with a young girl, pointing at a piece of paper in her hands

A man stads hugging a woman from behind. The woman has a pained expression


Get to know director David Durant

We caught up with director David Durant to ask him a few questions about his vision for this production of Jane Eyre. Here is what he said…

Tell us about your vision for this production of Jane Eyre

Everyone in Jane Eyre has something to hide or a secret they don’t want others to know. There are lots of times when people are literally kept behind closed doors out of sight, so know one knows about them. For me this is a basis of the story, that what is hidden needs to be brought out into the light. That everyone needs to be more open with the truth and the doors need opening. This vision is being brought into all aspects of the play, from the set, to the concept of how the characters perceive each other. It will be a continual journey of knowledge for Jane as she discovers more about the people she loves.

What is it like to work with a mixture of professional and community actors?

It’s deeply rewarding and humbling at the same time. Having such a mixture brings a lot of laughter and fun as everyone is there to learn, create and ultimately enjoy the process. This can sometimes be lost when working in the arts as we can be so focussed on the end product, but this process is as much about the final production as it is about the learning and passing on of skills as we get there.

What can audiences expect from this interpretation of Bronte’s classic novel?

A very stylised take that seeks to give Bertha Mason a much stronger voice and link to Jane’s repressed emotions. I’m trying to show how we impact others around us and make them feel, that our actions affect those closes to us and to bring out the raw emotion behind the text.

A group of four people sit at a desk laughing and chatting to each other


Get to know Natalie Spence, playing Jane Eyre

We also caught up with Natalie Spence, aka Jane Eyre!

About Nat

Tell us a bit about yourself and the productions/projects you’ve been involved with in the past.

I have been in the performing arts industry for 7 years, since graduating with a Musical Theatre degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. My career so far has been extremely diverse, and I love that I am forever using my own skills to learn and explore new ones – I’m definitely not made for the 9 to 5!

In the last year I have appeared on soap classics Eastenders and Emmerdale, and I will soon feature as a guest lead in Alibi’s crime drama, The Diplomat, alongside Sophie Rundle and filmed on location in Barcelona.

My first job out of drama school was a role in hit TV show, Outlander, and from there I went on to work as a singer in Disneyland Paris, becoming best friends with Rapunzel. I then explored the world of jazz music and I spent 3 months singing in a jazz club in Hong Kong. Music is a big part of my creative and personal life, it has been an immensely powerful tool of connection since I first discovered my love for music when I joined the church choir at aged 7.

Following on from Hong Kong, I spent the next few years being involved in a variety of productions, from Voice Over commercials, to a fringe show at the Vaults Theatre, modelling on The Great British Sewing Bee, and a healthy handful of short films. I also delved into the world of presenting and had my own show on a local radio station, before shimmying into Pantoland in The Big Tiny’s Robin Hood, playing a sassy and fiercely independent Maid Marion.

About Jane

What character are you playing in Jane Eyre and can you tell us a little bit about them?

I am playing the titular character, Jane Eyre. Jane was dealt a tough card, she was orphaned at a young age and cared for by her Aunt, Mrs Reed, who treated her with extreme cruelty. Despite being alienated throughout her whole childhood, Jane has a strong sense of self, and a commitment to do the right thing. She is passionate and matter-of-fact. Jane is content with the simple things in life, but also conflicted by her want to see the world.

Who is your favourite character in Jane Eyre and why? 

Although I have a lot of love for Helen Burns for her kindness and strength of character, I have to say Bertha is a very interesting part of this play that I am excited to explore. Bertha in a way represents Jane’s fiery side, and is imprisoned because of her ‘madness’, much like when Jane is locked in the Red Room for her fit of rage towards her cousin. I’m keen to look further into how the two characters are connected, and how Jane feels about the side of herself that Bertha represents.

What would be your top tip for performers thinking about auditioning for Courtyard Pro/Am productions in the future?

Well first of all, the basics – prepare well for your audition, learn the lines, know what your characters intentions are, and project your voice. Once you have that, it’s time to let go of all inhibitions and do your thing! Learning to make bold choices within your audition and your acting work will set you apart from the rest. And of course, ENJOY it!

A young woman looking into the camera, seriously


Get to know Matt Canny, playing Mr Rochester

And finally, we asked Matt Canny, aka Mr Rochester, a few questions…

Tell us a bit about yourself and the productions/projects you’ve been involved with in the past

I’m originally from the East Midlands, where a bread roll is a cob and a grumpy person is mardy. I trained at LAMDA from 2011 to 2014 and now live near Hitchin (Hertfordshire) with my wife. I’ve been lucky enough to work on BBC dramas as well as for ITV and Universal. I have walked the quite uneven cobbles of Coronation Street as a policeman and continued my trend of arresting Northerners on Emmerdale too. I have just wrapped on my first feature film and I feel immensely excited to be working on a piece as well-known as Jane Eyre.

What enticed you to audition for The Courtyard’s production of Jane Eyre?

I have a love for education and helping others achieve their ambitions. I am a great believer in pursuing one’s passions and dreams. My ‘bread and butter job’ is as a supply teacher and I have had many conversations with GCSE and A level students about the reality of the industry and what it takes to be happy, content and successful.

The opportunity to work with young people doing the job I love, and without having to tell them that they “should’ve gone to the toilet at break time”, was an opportunity not to be missed.

Is there a particular performer that you admire or take inspiration from?

I am inspired by many great actors and I take facets of their work and try to incorporate it into my own. Mark Rylance’s nuanced performance in Wolf Hall, Daniel Day-Lewis’s almost pantomime but brilliant portrayal of Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, the serpentine quality of Robin Wright in House of Cards. Inspiration for a performer is abundant, and like all art, it’s subjective and isn’t to everyone’s taste.

What would be your top tip for performers thinking about auditioning for Courtyard Pro/Am productions in the future?

Do it – and do it again. Especially if you’re told no. The life of an actor is not an easy one, with rejection being a huge part of it. If this is the path you want and you can’t bear to do anything else, then not only do you have to opportunity to do what you love, but also the opportunity to work with actors who can give you those little hints and tips to help you on your path.

A man wearing Victorian dress looking intently straight at the camera


The whole cast and creative team have worked incredibly hard on this production, and it is set to be an impressive, thrilling show, full of professional and local talent!

Book your tickets for Jane Eyre from The Courtyard website here.