BSC Address

Monday, June 26, 2006


Sunday at the Palace was as delightful as any day could be. The atmosphere inside the Palace walls was relaxed and peaceful. It had a strange calm, surrounded as it is by the busiest roads in London. And so unfolded one of the most wonderful days one could imagine. Our company were in great form, performing excerpts from THE JUNGLE BOOK for hoards of children (and Trevor Nunn). I spent most of my time wandering around soaking up the atmosphere of the place. Even with more than three thousand people enjoying the grounds, this amazing place remained idyllic. Meeting the authors of some of the country’s finest children’s work was an amazing treat – and I confess I’ve always wanted a good look at Her Majesty. She is quite something – charging through the crowds with an intense concentration on what she picks out to engage with and an easy ability to pass by the rest! I stayed for the BBQ in the evening and met the man who arranged and paid for much of the event - Peter Orton. Quite apart from the extraordinary treat he has given two thousand children, he has done something extremely important – bringing children into a special area where they have never collected before and putting them first. They so rarely are in this strange country of ours.

When the buggy took me back to the gates, I was suddenly aware of the outside world over the walls. "It's still there", I said to the driver.

Inside those walls, it was easy to forget.

One could not have wished for a better day.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Just when you think it can't get any better, you get invited to LA for the premiere of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN in Disneyland! Which is taking place on the same weekend you're going to Buckingham Palace! Don't you just love it when two things come along at once!

The theatre conference was excellent. The debate itself on Freedom of Speech could have gone on all day - it was fascinating. The director Peter Sellars was truly inspirational - he has such a wealth of experience in the field that his ideas for approaching difficult subjects was a text book guide of HOW TO DO IT and HOW NOT TO DO IT! I was lucky to hear his ideas first hand.

Canterbury this week. Will just have to cope with more countryside, castles and cathedrals! A tough job but someone has to...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


As if our forthcoming visit to Buckingham Palace wasn't enough, we now hear that Cherie and Leo Blair came to see GEORGE'S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE in Aylesbury last week! Clearly the time is not far away when I will be writing as Dame Foster!

Monday, June 12, 2006


I could get used to touring! This is going to be the longest time I've been out of the office in fourteen years. There's a certain stress at not being at the point of contact for everyone, but there are marvellous compensations. It's great to be doing two different shows - there is no sense of doing the same show twice. And when you're in a fantastic city like York, there is no end of wonderful places to go between or after shows. Pims at Plonkers, a trip up Clifford's Tower, a walk round the Minster, tea at Betty's, a stroll through Fairfax House, a boat ride up the river and great restaurants for every meal! Yes, touring has its attractions! And with Canterbury, Edinburgh, Oxford and Bristol ahead of us - this could be judged as a good idea!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Have you ever opened two new shows on the same day? Have you ever had to say every other line in both of them? With sixteen costume changes in each show? Neither had I until Tuesday, when we opened The Terrible Tudors and The Vile Victorians on the same day! I now know what it must be like to cross the Grand Canyon on a tightrope. You can feel the wind up your trousers!!

Fortunately we were blessed with two fantastic audiences which got us off to a roaring start. The evening audience contained schools that were slightly less well behaved than usual - and I loved it! Rowdy audiences always present a wonderful challenge - and within a few minutes we had them under our spell. By the time we got to Henry VIII the expectant silence was palpable. It's why I'm often suspicious of actors who say "it was a bad audience". In my experience, there are few audiences who can't be turned round by a concentrated effort of attack. Peter O'Toole once described the stage as 'a battlefield'. He's surely right. And all rowdy inclinations were slaughtered on Tuesday night!

We couldn't be in a better city than York. It's quite beautiful in it's historic way. And a boat trip up the Ouze last night rounded off the day. It's fantastic to be with such a lovely and extremely funnny group of people. A great start to the tour.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


I've just received the brochure for the panel discussion I've been invited to join in Ireland's Theatre Forum conference. The panel includes Stewart Lee (writer of Jerry Springer the Opera) Janet Steel (the director of Behzti) and the director Peter Sellars. That's what you call a line-up! I'm already interested to know what they're going to say!

But before that - the slight matter of two shows opening on the same day - and I'm in both of them! Someone had the clever idea of touring two shows under the banner HORRIBLE HISTORIES. This brilliant fellow even conceived the idea of opening these two shows on the same day! Now this ambitious fool gets everything he deserves by having to perform in them himself. We've spent the last four weeks rehearsing and we open in York on Tuesday. It will be my first ever full scale tour - I did mini tours of THE CRUCIBLE and SPEED-THE-PLOW, but not ten shows a week, for three months.

It may go towards tackling one of my greatest fears - being alone in a new city. I have never found travelling easy on my own, unless I clearly have somewhere to go and someone to meet. It has sometimes induced panic attacks. Yet Mr John Cleese told me when I was 19 that the greatest growth a human being can find comes from facing your biggest fears. It's taken me 21 years to do anything remotely close to touring like this so I clearly didn't pay enough attention to his advice. But finally I'm off. Of course it's not like going away on my own - I am part of a full company - but there will still be nights when I will find myself on me todd (is that one 'd' or two?) and it will be a test. A touring test with the Terrible Tudors. If you are in any of the cities we are visiting, come and say hello!