TITUS is a story born out of a 10 year friendship between director Charlie Cattrall and Obie Award winning actor Ron Cephas Jones. The two had dreamed of creating a story that would combine their passions ever since they met at the Edinburgh Festival in 2001, where Ron was performing his landmark role as Lucius in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Jesus hopped the A Train.
The two never went more than a year without being in the same city. In April 2010 Charlie traveled to see Ron in Paris, where he was playing Caliban in the European leg of Sam Mendes’ Bridge Project. The next stop on the tour was London’s Old Vic theatre and Titus was now in the making.
Fresh from the success of Watching, writer Nico Mensinga was ready and waiting to craft a narrative out of the interestes and issues that forged Charlie and Ron’s relationship. Jazz music, African-American history and the importance of cultural inheritance also gave Ron’s daughter, actress and singer Jasmine Cephas Jones, the perfect opportunity to star along-side her father.
Prior to graduating from one of New York’s finest acting schools, The Neighbourhood Playhouse, Jasmine had been voice training at Berklee College of Music. Her role as Titus’ daughter in her debut feature film was about to test both of her talents to their farthest reaches.
At the end of June, Nico unveiled the script. The character of Marina, Titus’ patron, was born. She would be played by Olivier and Evening Standard nominee Ann Mitchell (recent star of The Deep Blue Sea) and complete the powerful triangle of actors at the helm of the film.
The musical voice of Titus is none other than that of Archie Shepp. The legendary US tenor saxophonist would record on alto for the first time in more than 30 years to keep in line with Titus’ character. The direct protege of John Coltrane, it has been an honour to gain a deeper understanding of the history which Titus hopes to encompass. Together we created an emblematic original composition that will mark the life story of our protagonist.
The ferociously talented Titus house band who recorded live for the score at the Vortex Jazz Club have also been a humbling addition to the score. Headed by alto saxophonist Nathaniel Facey (MOBO 2010 winner) and accompanied by Tom Challenger on tenor sax, George Fogel on keys, Ryan Trebilcock on bass and Mercury nominated Seb Rochford (Polar Bear) on drums they created original compostions under the composition of Watching collaborator Amory Leader and Simon Williams.
Multi-instrumentalist Stepehn Bentley Klein was responsible for creating the Titus score, aided by yet more of Britain’s brightest new talents, including BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Shabaka Hutchings (clarinet), Ayanna Witter-Johnson (vocals), Liam Noble (piano) and Aine Dwyer (harp), to mention but a few.
This level of mobilization of the UK jazz world would never have been possible without the endlessly generous guidance of Ian Shaw. One of our most respected jazz vocalists, Ian also has a background in acting and agreed to play Eric, the jazz club owner who tries to encourage Titus to return to the stage.
If you’ve read this far, then you might as well admit it – you’re hooked! So why not sign up to our newsletter below so you can be the first to know about the rest of the story. We will be updating news here throughout the project and promise to reply asap to any questions left in the comments box or emailed directly to us at email@example.com.
Much love from us all at Dakus and the Titus HQ!