1. In ‘The Tempest of Lyme’ you play Stephano who spends most of his time drinking. Is there an element of typecasting there?!
1. No absolutely not. I rarely drink alcohol now. Once had a drink during the interval of a show and almost fluffed my lines in the second act. Never again! The director and I did agree though that for Stephano I should get very drunk one night and recant my lines, just to get the feel of it.
2. 2. What are the challenges of playing Stephano?
Stephano is a classic comic relief within Shakespeare's play. He must entertain and provide a pleasant diversion from the main storyline and create a subplot which must weave back into the narrative. It's about creating a character with a low status accent, limited use of syntax and almost pantomime like gestures without going overboard. Comic timing is important as is the relationships he has with Trincular and Caliban. He also has to morph into a pretentious like man where he is punching well above his weight when he thinks he rules over the Isle. It's all about rhythm volume of voice as well as spatial awareness. These are just some of the challenges, oh yes he also has to sing.
3.Have you always been bitten by the acting bug? Or is it a recent thing?
. The first time I appeared on stage was at the London Coliseum at the age of 12 for English National Opera. I performed with them throughout my early teens as well as with Handel Opera Society. Also sang with Barnet Schools at the Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall. After my first degree I took voice lessons and won a place at RWCMD in Cardiff where I studied acting and singing. I have sung for D'Oyly Carte as well as many other small professional companies. I've also toured pantomime extensively throughout the UK where there was more drama offstage than on it. I've performed most of the G&S Operettas and Ive been part of four world premieres, done some TV extra work, voice overs and you can hear me as part of the opening chorus for BBC's 'Merlin' This is the second time I've worked with Andrew Dickson the first being 'Running Still' for the Dorchester Community Play Association in the 90's.
4. Are you looking forward to the challenge of playing in the open air, competing with seagulls, buses and crisp packets being opened?
Open air performances are no problem. The main challenge is making sure that the audience can hear and the second is that of rain. Not because of the audience but because it ruins the costumes and expensive instruments. If dry it can be a great experience and as for other interruptions seagull pie is very tasty at this time of year.
5. If you could pick an ideal role for yourself, what would it be?
I'd pick any of the Verdi Baritone roles as they usually play the bad guy and there are some great arias. I've played Papageno which is an actor singing role as well as Wilfred the jailer in The Yeoman of the Guard. I feel Stephano is in this mould which is probably why I've been cast as him.
6. 6. Have you ‘played’ Shakespeare before?
. I played Peter the Fisherman in Verdi's Otello and in 2013 I played Antonio in 12th Night with The Greek Theatre Players which has it's own Greek Ampitheatre right in the heart of Walthamstow.
Thanks very much, John.