Running to Catch Up - Guest Feature by Charlotte Watson (Playing Caroline in Engineer Theatre Collective’s RUN this Spring)

Running to Catch Up
By Charlotte Watson
(Playing Caroline in Engineer Theatre Collective’s RUN this Spring)

It has been heartening recently to see successful actresses stepping forward and bemoaning the lack of equality in the film industry in Hollywood. Think Kristin Scott Thomas, Jennifer Lawrence and Jane Fonda. This takes place both in casting (women are traditionally cast in the roles of wife, mother, girlfriend), and in pay. The more attention brought to this the better, in my opinion.

Hollywood is, however, a microcosm of the entertainment and arts industry. Miles away from the west coast of America both geographically and creatively, I am much better equipped to talk about the state-of-play in London. On this side of the pond, there are more pressing matters than equal pay to worry about for creatives trying to get their work onto the stage. We’re seeing more funding cuts than ever before, making Arts Council grants harder and harder to gain. With theatre companies often unable to pay their artists, the works we are seeing from new companies in London are often labours of love, with little gained by the artists behind them, other than the longed-for exposure. That, after all, is priceless.

Sexism, ageism, all appear to be live and strong within the confines of this expansive industry, but one of the reasons I am still happy to pursue acting as a career is that I know that there are pockets of creativity not biased towards gender; there are audiences who actively seek out shows with strong female leads, and there are companies who make sure that that is exactly what they deliver.

Engineer Theatre Collective is one of those companies. Powered by not one, but two female producers, the collective is a true collaboration across disciplines and genders. Engineer’s current play, RUN, centres around the story of a young woman, Caroline. Inspired by the story of Moritz Erhardt, a young banking intern in the city of London who died after reportedly working 72 hours straight in 2012, RUN follows the progression of Caroline through a similar internship.

The question; how could one person with so much going for them succumb to the grueling timetable of the ‘magic roundabout’ without knowing the health risks it would pose? What are the lengths to which these over-worked young adults will go to ensure they are successful? Jobs are hard to come by in any sector these days, particularly it seems, for young graduates. Perhaps the answer is money; would you accept the high expectations on your time and health if it meant that you could potentially take home a significant pay packet plus sizeable bonus? I know that I wouldn’t, but that’s because I was never good enough at maths! (And any and all moral objections you care to name.)

The true answer is not clear, and sadly we can’t claim to resolve Moritz’s story, but from the privileged position I am in of inhabiting this character, I can say for sure that for Caroline, part of the reason she fights so hard for her place is because she is a woman in a man’s world.

Whilst Caroline enters a world famously dominated by men, I am able to choose the people I wish to work and be associated with. One of the defining features of the arts is that across history and culture they have been a means through which we can tell human stories. There are hundreds and thousands of them that are yet to be told; it is about time that women, and indeed artists, were given the stage to do so.

RUN, the work of which I am proudest, is returning to London for a full five weeks - our longest run yet (pardon the pun)! It has been on a very exciting journey spanning counties and countries, and has gone through many redevelopments along the way, and we are delighted to be part of a season at the Greenwich Theatre celebrating female theatre makers.

(c) Charlotte Watson 2016

Listing information

Link to production images:


Greenwich Theatre
8-12 March at 8pm
Tickets £15, Conc £12.50
Box Office 020 8858 7755

New Diorama Theatre
15 March - 9 April at 7.30pm
Tickets £15, Conc £12.50
Box Office 020 7916 5467

“an astonishingly accurate portrayal of the lives of young City workers. A brilliant dramatisation”
The Gateway
“The writing here is terrific...The cast is excellent, their pacing expert and consistently funny...insightful theatre” The Skinny

Author's review: