After the Dance – It’s Over

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Well another production is over – I’ve had the (very) small part of Lawrence in The Miller Centre Theatre Company’s production of the Rattigan masterpiece After the Dance.

I’m a HUGE Rattigan fan, so it was great to finally be in one of his plays. After the Dance is one of my favourite plays of all time as well. The more I watched it and observed the audience’s reactions to it, the more I learned about what a master of playwriting Rattigan was.

Small lines and pieces of stagecraft that on page looked quite inconsequential had major influences on the audience and piece. He really knew how to craft drama like few others.  For me it is an emotional play and there is specific moment that “gets me every time” – when Joan bursts into tears as she realises her marriage is over. It always brings a tear to my eye and lump to my throat.

Rattigan - no other writer's works speak to me like his do.

Rattigan – no other writer’s works speak to me like his do.

It’s always sad to come to the end of a production (I dubbed it “Post Production Depression”  previously) new friends have been made, much hilarity ensured over the course of the run and there was an air of sadness as we parted ways. I’m sure our paths will cross again. I’ve not got long to wallow in melancholy, as I’ve a read through and meeting regarding a production I’ll be producing in 2014 tomorrow, alas it’s not a Rattigan play however my time to direct/produce one of his plays will come!

 

 

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Photos from The Real Inspector Hound

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Here are a few photos from The Real Inspector Hound, which was on at The Bridewell Theatre in London the other week and in which I played the part of Moon.

The Cast of The Real Inspector Hound

The Cast of The Real Inspector Hound

Me relaxing backstage, just before curtain up.

Me relaxing backstage, just before curtain up.

I had to wear these shoes - I quite liked being 5 inches taller!

I had to wear these shoes – I quite liked being 5 inches taller!

"2 critics combining to achieve continuity" - me as Moon and James as Birdboot

“2 critics combining to achieve continuity” – me as Moon and James as Birdboot

"It's a whodunit man, look at it!"

“It’s a whodunit man, look at it!”

Why helloooo

Why helloooo

Anyone for tennis?

Anyone for tennis?

Inspector Hound (but is it the real one??)

Inspector Hound (but is it the real one??)

Those swamp boots are hard to remove

Those swamp boots are hard to remove

Bridge 4's?

Bridge 4’s?

Star of the show - Mrs Drudge

Star of the show – Mrs Drudge

"Ahh the final piece of the mystery"

“Ahh the final piece of the mystery”

"Are you the real inspector hound?"

“Are you the real Inspector Hound?”

Thanks to Michael Fair for the photos, and to all those that came and supported the show.

End of the Road

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All good things must come to an end, and that’s what has happened to the run of The Long Road. I mentioned in my previous post how I’d enjoyed it and found it has helped me grow as an actor.

Theatre is an existential art form and now all that remains are fond memories. My thanks to my co-actors, Jen, Chris, Saskia and Helen who were such fun to work with. Thanks also to the director Iain, who pushed us to be the best we could be. I’ll miss you all.

Going to miss these folks!

I’ve spoken previously about Post-Production Depression  and how I always feel low for a few days following a production, as I miss the people and play. That’ll be especially acute following this play I know.

It won’t be long before I tread the boards again though (February 2013), so I’m looking forward to having a chance to see some theatre over the next couple of  months and the reviews will be here soon!

Being part of a production that moves people

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The Long Road run is going well. It’s been a real joy from the first day of rehearsals. We’ve now only got 4 more nights left and I will really miss it when it’s over.

Being part of a play that actually touches people (we’ve had people in tears some nights) has been a new experience for me and has renewed my conviction that theatre can touch people and act as a catalyst for change. The themes of restorative justice, forgiveness, grief and family have resonated with audiences in ways that I think they too were surprised at. All thanks to Shelagh Stephenson’s script.

The chance to do an opening soliloquy was one of the main attractions for the part of Joe for me.

As an actor I feel I’ve really grown taking on this part, it has been hard and I do come off each night feeling emotionally drained, but I love the opening soliloquy I have and there is no greater buzz than the curtains opening and the light being on me and having the opportunity to capture the audience’s attention from the outset.

My onstage mum and dad

Like any production this has been a group effort and I’m loving working with the talented actors and despite it being a “heavy” play we’ve had plenty of laughs backstage and after the play, which I think we’ve needed otherwise we’d all end up a bit depressed. Iain McGrath the director has been a gem to work with and has really focused my attention and  helped me to bring my character to life and fruition.

It’s been an experience I’ll treasure as I’ve learnt so much from it that I know I’ll take with me into future plays and projects.

(photos courtesy of http://www.avriljonesphotography.co.uk/)

Andy Nyman Interview – “I really love what I do”

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Andy Nyman

Andy Nyman is an actor, writer and director whose positive enthusiasm is contagious. After my 30 mins interviewing him I felt excited and empowered in my own life. The mustachioed actor told me the secret to his success:

Firstly we talked about Abigail’s Party the play he’s currently in at the Wyndham’s theatre in the West End. I asked him how that’d been going?

“I love it, it’s fantastic, great reviews, packed houses, what’s not to like.? I’m such an annoying and enthusiastic f*&^!$r though! It’s been one of those jobs that has been absolutely lovely”

I asked him as this is such a classic play, did he immediately jump at the chance to play Laurence?

Andy as Laurence

“Quite the reverse, I said no, I said no a couple of times to it as they came back a couple of times to me. I was desperate to work with Lyndsey but I’ve never really been free previously. I was excited it was Lyndsey but my memory of seeing the original was that Alison Steadman was extraordinary and huge in a brilliant way but everything else was sort of invisible. So I didn’t really remember the play that well, my memory of Laurence was that he was a weak, brow beaten individual and that didn’t have any interest for me whatsoever. So I said no. They came back to me and asked me if I’d read the play and I said no, I was just going from my memories from 30 years ago. So I re-read the play and was absolutely astonished and thought it’s like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It’s an amazing piece of writing and this is a remarkably dysfunctional relationship it terms of Beverly and Laurence they’re both very strong characters that have just got trapped in the wrong marriage. So in reading it I called Lyndsey and said I think it’s amazing but my feeling is that they’re both very strong characters and he is an equal to her and that’s what makes it all the more painful and awful. Lynsey said that’s exactly what he thinks and why he wanted me to do it.

Buy two copies one for you and one to give to a moanny actor

Moving on we spoke about the other project in his life right now his new book The Golden Rules of Acting How had this come about?

“I wrote it for me, I love books of quotes, and there was a book I’d bought years ago called ‘Go for the Gold’, it sounds so cheesy. It’s just quotes  from anyone and everything. I always used to carry it in my bag, and one day something happened at an audition or something, about 6 years ago and I thought I just want to scribble that thought down, so I scribbled it into the front of the ‘Go for the Gold’ book. Then I wrote another down, and about a week later I wrote another down and before I knew it that cover and the inside cover were full. So I thought I’d transfer those onto A4, then that became 2 sides, then 5 sides etc. I was never thinking I’m writing a book, it was purely for me and I loved it. It was a really useful reminder of all the things I loved about acting and so I found it invigorating. 

I then put it into a PDF with photos. I showed it to a couple of actors,  only out of ‘what do you think of this?’ they loved it and after we’d finished Ghost Stories I gave a copy to Jeremy Dyson (Andy’s co-writer) and despite it being about acting I felt it crossed over to all creative thinking and he came back and said it was brilliant and sent it to his literary agent who said he could place it, and felt he’d most like to place it with Nick Hern Books.

The finished article in your hands is literally what was in my head. I had an incredibly strong vision of what it was. For actors, I hope it’s a fantastic book as it is really from the heart, but it doesn’t matter what job you do, Richard Weisman who’s a psychologist thinks it a real key into how to create success for yourself.”

I’d noticed that within it there did appear to be a frustration with actors and how it was refreshing to see him address the moaning many tend to do. I admired how he’d made a point that acting (like any) profession is hard work.

“Yeah there are a couple of important things I really, really believe. First is it is your job, it’s your business and who you are and how you present yourself and how you conduct your business – aside from how good or bad an actor you are, it’s a given that you’ve got to be good at what you do. I don’t know that being a good actor is 50% of it, it might only be 30% of it. Being able to put yourself in a position where you can afford to do this job because make no mistake, I’m currently in the West End in a show and the wage isn’t terrible but it’s certainly not WOHOO! The shocking thing is that I left drama school in 1987 and if you put on a play now, building the set is more expensive, renting the theatre is more expensive, buying the tickets is more expensive and not just relatively, a lot more. What you get paid as an actor can sometimes be less, sometimes it can be a bit more but not relative to everything else. Making a living as an actor is really hard.

It becomes acceptable and cool to pretend you don’t care. I don’t hold any truck with moaning really. I’m incredibly lucky to be sitting in my dressing room in the West End starring in a play. You’re incredibly lucky just to have a passion about something that you want to pursue and so few people have the courage to follow their passions or even know what they are. It’s more important to put yourself out there properly and with the full commitment to say I really love what I do and I’m not embarrassed by that.”

Finally I wondered what the future held? As to be expected I was bombarded with a cacophony of projects, a Ghost Stories film “that’s a way down the line, Jeremy and I need to write the script. We wanted a bit of distance before we approached it as it’s a new challenge, but we’ll do it definitely. We’re also working on another film script and another play. Ghost Stories is opening in Moscow on October 19th.

5 days after I finish Abigail’s Party I fly off to play one of the bad guys in Kick Ass 2, which is very exciting as I loved the first film so much.

Then in the beginning of next year I’m writing and directing the new Derren Brown stage show. I just did not have time for Svengali (Derren’s most recent show). It’s a scary challenge that’ll be the 6th show Derren’s done of which I’ve written and directed 4. They’re really good fun though. So it’s a very busy and exciting time really.”

Is this his secret to life, success and happiness, having different challenges and things to do? “Yeah I think that really helps. As I say again, and again, and again in the book the priority is to be happy. That’s number 1. The work won’t make you happy I believe. Being busy, being successful is not what leads to happiness. Being happy is what helps lead to being busy and successful. That’s why it’s important not to moan and to cherish the things and people who you love and enjoy being around because that’s the fuel for the passion and excitement that should drive everything. “

“I was talking to Mark Gatiss the other day (who I’ve known for 20+ years)  and we were marvelling in what each other has done, and the thing we were saying which I honestly believe is that it isn’t extraordinary that I’ve done or do a lot of different things, I’m always surprised how little other people do. That’s one of the things that I think magic has given me, because that’s my glorious hobby that I love but I think because I learnt about 12 or so years ago a creative process that allowed me to invent. when I invented my first magic trick I just thought ‘I can do anything’. It opened my eyes.”

So I left my time with Andy feeling I too had caught that ‘can do’ attitude, I look forward to seeing him in these future projects and on the West End stage again  in the not too distant future. Andy’s book The Golden Rules of Acting can be bought here.

More on Method Acting and A New Series About Drama Schools

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I’d not seen this until today, but it tickled me, especially the “This is not Shakespeare” line  :

 

I’m also looking forward to this :

Drama schools are inherently funny places, full of interesting characters, so I’m sure this’ll be a fun series and I may well recognise some of my tutors in the characterisations.