BSC Address

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Storm clouds

This tour of HORRIBLE HISTORIES certainly hasn't stopped being interesting! Today it was nature's turn to kick-start the fun. Half an hour after the arrival of storm clouds over Oxford, cascades of water started pouring into the back of the theatre. When I arrived at the half, it had already flooded the dressing room corridors and was creeping onto the stage. Quick action by the theatre staff using a hoover - and the abatement of the storm - meant that after a wait of 45 minutes, the audience were able to enjoy their matinee performance. And there was ample opportunity to ad-lib about the strange afternoon!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Oxford ho!

So those of you out there who lives near Oxford - we're here this week and would love to see you! Word of mouth on this tour has been remarkable. Contrary to what you would expect, shows for children often take less money during the week they are playing than in the weeks leading up to the show, as parents need time to book in advance. Not HORRIBLE HISTORIES! Last week Edinburgh took more than double its average the week we were there, entirely due to word of mouth.

I loved the Edinburgh Playhouse. Its huge - 3000 seats - but it really works. You are easily able to engage with the audience and the theatre doesn't lose its intimacy with the actor. One of the great pleasures of this tour has been playing all the different theatres - and York, Sunderland and Edinburgh are certainly my favourites of the tour (York and Sunderland having been built by the Victorian Frank Matcham, the greatest theatre designer this country has ever seen! He was certainly not a VILE VICTORIAN!).

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Naomie Harris

I wouldn't recommend you rush to see the latest PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN but if you happen to find yourself in a cinema which is showing the film, you'll have the chance to see a fantastic performance by Naomie Harris as a weird gypsy woman! I have rarely seen any actress do so much in just four minutes - it's a fantastic performance which manages to be clever, sexy, mysterious, dangerous and funny all at the same time! I believe she also trained at the Bristol Old Vic, which obviously explains why she's so good!

The Wrong Show

I suppose it’s not often in an actor’s life that someone will walk up to you in the wings and whisper: “We’re doing the wrong show”. But half way through The Terrible Tudors on Thursday morning at the Sunderland Empire, my stage manager walked up to me as I was about to enter as Henry VIII and said: “We’re doing the wrong show. We should be doing the Victorians”. My face became frozen in a temporary stare of astonishment. “I think we should carry on, but the theatre want us to stop” he offered further. “I’ll stop it” was my single response. There weren’t even two seconds to think what I was going to say as I walked on stage and declared “I’m bored of doing the Tudors. Let’s stop now and do the Victorians instead”. I will long remember the stunned look of utter bemusement on the faces of my fellow actors. And so, twenty minutes later, we were back on stage, in Victorian costumes, feeling slightly surreal and forgiveably giddy.

When all the lights went out just before the end of the afternoon performance (a workman had drilled through a cable in the city centre!) we did begin to wonder whether Sid James (who died on stage at the Empire) was having one of his memorable laughs.

Now that we have started this theatrical fashion, it will surely only be a matter of time before actors throughout the country will be walking on stage saying “I’m bored of playing King Lear – let’s do Hamlet instead!”

Sunday, July 02, 2006

How to deal with hot weather...

...Go on tour! I have realised that touring in the summer has to be the best time to travel the country. You get to visit some of Englands finest towns when they are at their best. I have to confess that walking around the Roman walls in Colchester beats an afternoon in Regent Street hands down. Suddenly hot weather isn't about sticky trains and stiffling corridors - it's cool breezes on a river in Canterbury! You have to suffer a little bit on stage, especially when you're playing Henry VIII in full regalia, but it's worth it to wander through the stage door into England's garden of Eden!

However, I will have to endure London at it's hottest tomorrow, but for a good cause. I've been invited to the premiere of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN in Leicester Square. Presumably pirates put on a proper party?!