Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Ask Your Actor

This bulletin was composed with questions sent in by schools who adopted Harry.

Transcript of Podcast

How long have you been an actor? What inspired you?

My parents are actors so it was always in my background. I did a lot of acting at university but after that I spent two years doing other things to find out what I really wanted to do. I worked in a hospice as an auxiliary nurse for a while and travelled to Australia and New Zealand. When I came back, I went to drama school (Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art) for two years, from 1991 to 1993. It's been 12 years now since I left and I’ve worked pretty consistently since then.

What's been your favourite performance?

My favourite performances would be in The Antipodes, which is an obscure play about the world turning upside down. I played a character called Peregrine – that was at the Globe theatre in 2000. My favourite Shakespeare plays are probably The Tempest and The Comedy of Errors.

Why do you play three parts in Pericles?

I need to play three parts in Pericles because the play has about 40 parts and our company only has fifteen actors. One or two actors play parts that go all the way through the play but the rest of us keep changing our clothes and perform lots of parts. I think it's more fun to see an actor play one part and suddenly come back on stage in different clothes as somebody else. The audience seem very happy to see that too.

Which of the three parts in Pericles do you like the best?

Probably Cleon, because comedy is one of my strengths and Cleon isn’t a comedy part: I find him more difficult to play and therefore more rewarding.

Is it easy to learn your lines?

Yes, I find it easy when I’ve got enough time. I go through them again and again and then with the people I’m saying the lines to, so I can relate what I’m saying to a particular person and to my character's intentions (why I’m saying what I’m saying), so there's a personal relationship there; you’re not just repeating the lines for no reason.

Have you ever played girls’ parts in theatre shows?

No, I haven’t, funnily enough – being 6ft 4 and gangly, with a beard, they haven’t cast me to play female characters!

Have you been in TV shows and films?

Yes, I played a TV reporter in a small scene of The Bill and a zookeeper who lost his gorilla in Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde. I did a tiny scene in Shakespeare in Love – you hear my voice when several people audition for Romeo and Juliet and recite Christopher Marlowe's famous lines about Helen of Troy: ‘the face that launched a thousand ships.’ You hear my voice speaking the lines, but you see at Shakespeare's horrified face as he hears yet another speech by his rival Christopher Marlowe.

Do you prefer theatre or television work?

I feel very comfortable with theatre. But I’d love to do more television – it's quicker in a way, and usually pays more. I’d like to be in a soap opera for a couple of months and get to feel as comfortable in front of the camera as I do on stage.

Is it hard for actors to imagine scenery at the Globe?

After a while it's not very hard at all, because there's very little scenery to imagine. You’re really playing out towards the audience – you can directly address audience members with lots of the lines and bring them into the scene as if they were actors in the play. We have the odd chair and table so we don’t have to imagine that kind of furniture. But you don’t need to imagine walls and decorations because they’re not important: people and how they communicate are what's important at the Globe theatre and in Shakespeare's plays.

What's special about being a member of the audience at the Globe?

It's that you’re so close to the actors – you can see what they’re doing – and, because you’re not in the dark as audiences normally are in an enclosed theatre, actors talk directly to you and draw you into the play. You’re part of the acting.

How many Shakespeare plays have you performed at the Globe?

I’ve done The Comedy of Errors, King Lear, Hamlet and Pericles, so that would be four over four years.

Does your agent arrange auditions for parts in plays?

Yes. All the people who hire me go through my agent. Even if I’ve worked with a person before, they don’t contact me directly; they always go through the agent because that's the proper way to do it. The agent has contacts and sees all the possible auditions coming up, then puts my name forward for some of them.

How did you get the part for this play?

I was very lucky. I’d worked with Kathryn Hunter before (the Master of Play for Pericles) and she asked me to come along to a workshop: she wanted to see if her idea of splitting the character of Pericles into two parts for an older actor and a younger actor worked. She had a read-through with some of her friends to practice that for a day. A few weeks after the workshop, I was asked if I’d like to be in the play. Of course I said yes!

These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.

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