BSC Address

Monday, October 23, 2006

Good news

For those of you who know Tim Speyer - hurrah!

He has just become engaged to Rachel!

Much love to both!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


George's Marvellous Medicine is going to Malta in three weeks. We've been told that most performances have already sold out. This is the first time a show for children has been staged in Malta.

I will be reprising my role as Grandma, one of British literature's greatest creations.

Watch out, children of Malta: Grandma is coming!

Unadulterated madness

The Arts Council have funded an artist to furnish a room in a gallery with nothing.

And the 'artistic' premise behind this empty room?

In order that visitors can reflect upon their memories of art which they have seen in other museums.

Have we finally reached the nadir of what is classified as 'art'?

Public funding has become a public disaster. Who can stop the madness?


We've been nominated for awards twice this year and I'm not sure I like it. Effectively, a group of people nominate you for their award and then invite you to come to their ceremony so that they can tell you that you haven't won. They know you haven't won before they invite you, so why not cut to the chase: "you were nominated you for one of our awards but hey, you didn't win!". This seems more sensible and would cut down on catering.

I am however developing the technique of looking extremely unhappy when we don't win. No "oh that's great, they deserve it" expressions. Anyone watching me as the envelope opens should be able to discern the words I am mouthing as the winner takes to the stage. It requires time and practise, but I hope to set a new trend for nominated losers.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Art of Acting

Something I've often noticed: how little actors talk about the art of acting.

Rudi Shelley, the world's greatest acting teacher, taught me a great technique. If you are in an emotional scene, don't try and repeat the emotion. Repeat the thought and the emotion will follow. If you try and find the emotion alone, you will have to dig deeper and deeper until you are exhausted and the emotion gets distorted. Repeating the thought is much simpler and more certain to produce the same emotion again and again.

I think about something Rudi has taught me around twenty times every performance I give. There has never been anyone like him.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Something I've noticed a lot during the run of PROOF and after recent productions including COLLISION and THE RETURN: seeing the look of shock on people's faces after the show. People are startled that the show has connected with them so powerfully. I can only assume this is because people have got so used to being bored when they visit the theatre that they appear to be startled when they find themselves genuinely gripped or moved. (Even our shows for children generate the same reaction: KENSUKE'S KINGDOM often leaves the adults in tears. So many people have remarked on this that I can only guess it must be happening very rarely). When did theatre become so boring? I can't imagine people being bored in The Globe, so what has happened in the intervening 400 years?

Sunday, October 15, 2006


What an extraordinary night. The last night of PROOF. Last nights are very rarely the best nights. In most cases, the actors tend to go a little awry with the emotion or push too strongly. Not tonight. The indomitable Sally Oliver, in the lead role, charted our course with the stoicism that has characterised her incredible voyage through this play. Instead of it going awry, tonight's performance was freshly and deeply felt.

I could not believe it. I could not believe our last show of this wonderful run was going to end so beautifully. As the last scene approached, I couldn't imagine it fulfilling all my dreams - but as I stood backstage, I worked out the key to holding it true for myself and pushing it even further. And boy! - did it unlock the most delicate playing we've ever done of that final scene.

Tonight was a very special performance. The audience knew it. We knew it. I doubt I have ever felt like writing this before, but it was perfect theatre.

For the first time in my life, I was crying at the curtain call (and no-one noticed, thank goodness). To be in this theatre, in this play, in this cast, with this audience - what an extraordinary experience.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Third week

After two great performances in London, PROOF begins its final week in Birmingham. It has been a dream production in every way and I'm going to miss it. But before I miss it, I get to do it four more times on Norman Coates' wonderful set in the wonderful Old Rep Theatre.