sat 23/02/2019

Theatre Interviews

Q&A Special: Actor Derek Jacobi

Jasper Rees

Derek Jacobi (b 1938) grew up in Leytonstone. His father was a tobacconist, his mother worked in a department store. Although he entered the profession in the great age of social mobility in the early 1960s, no one could have predicted that he would go on to play so many English kings - Edward II, a couple of Henry VIIIs and Shakespeare’s two Richards - as well as a Spanish one in Don Carlos. This month he prepares to play another king of Albion: Lear, against which all classical...

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Debate: Should Theatre Be On Television?

theartsdesk Get thee to an edit suite: David Tennant's RSC Hamlet on screen with Mariah Gale as Ophelia

The relationship between stage and screen has always been fraught with antagonism and suspicion. One working in two dimensions, the other in three, they don't speak the same visual language. But recent events have helped to eat away at the status quo. On the one hand, theatre has grown increasingly intrigued by the design properties of film. Flat screens have popped up all over the place, notably in Katie Mitchell’s National shows and at the more ambitious work of the ENO. Meanwhile,...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Simon Callow

graeme Thomson

Simon Callow is on the phone when I arrive at his five-star digs, booming his apparently considerable misgivings vis-a-vis appearing in some reality TV exercise in which he will be asked to tutor disadvantaged kids in the mysterious arts of Shakespeare. “They keep saying it will be great”, he rumbles, “but it will only be great if it’s great.” And Amen to that.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Michael Gambon

Jasper Rees

There’s always the risk, when you put a tape machine in front of Michael Gambon (b. 1940), that it won’t be recording the truth and nothing but. His taste for mischief-making is legendary, his low boredom threshold a matter of fact. It doesn’t take a shrink to come up with an explanation.

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Q&A Special: Writer-composer Richard Thomas

ismene Brown 'Outraged complaints, not family joy - that's Thomas's area': So what will 'Shoes' be like?

Richard Thomas wrote Jerry Springer, The Opera, as everyone knows - and he is soon to unveil Anna Nicole, the opera. Can this be the same Richard Thomas who’s written a dance show at Sadler’s Wells, with a cheesy poster, called Shoes? It hardly seems likely. Flames, expletives, scabrous lines, suppurating satire - that’s what makes a Richard Thomas show, not (surely) tap-dancing in platforms and ballet-dancing in flip-flops?

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theartsdesk Q&A: Stage Designer Es Devlin

Hilary Whitney

For the past five years British stage designer Es Devlin has been creating extraordinarily ambitious and imaginative sets for some of the biggest crowd-pullers in the music industry, from Take That to Lady Gaga. But this week she returns to her theatrical roots with a new play, Pieces of Vincent, by David Watson at the small but prestigious Arcola Theatre in London.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Playwright Howard Brenton

Carole Woddis

Political playwright Howard Brenton (b. 1942) is always in the process of being "rediscovered". Yet at the same time he has been at the heart of British theatrical life for the past 40 years, since his debut in 1969 with Christie in Love. True, he has spent the odd decade out of the theatrical limelight - a few years ago, he "went out of fashion" in his own phrase – and then he just happened to pen some of the liveliest scripts on television with the BBC’s spy drama series, ...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Writer Willy Russell

Jasper Rees

No one understands escapism like Willy Russell. Either side of 1980, he wrote two plays about working-class Liverpool women in flight from a humdrum existence. In one a young hairdresser seeks fulfilment through a literary education with the Open University. In the other, a middle-aged housewife has an island-holiday romance. As films, Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine earned Oscar nominations for, respectively, Julie Walters and Pauline Collins.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Theatre Director Dominic Dromgoole

Matt Wolf

Dominic Dromgoole (b. Oct.1963) had directed professionally precisely one Shakespeare play - Troilus and Cressida for the Oxford Stage Company, with a then little-known Matt Lucas as Thersites - when he was appointed artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe, the Thames-side playhouse that has defied nay-sayers to become a London theatrical fixture since opening to the public in 1997. Could the amiably scruffy one-time leader of west London's tiny Bush, a space given over exclusively...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Composer Alan Menken

Jasper Rees

For many years the composer who made his name with Little Shop of Horrors abandoned the theatre to work in Hollywood. He returned to Broadway in 2008 with an enlarged songbook for The Little Mermaid, but it closed within a year. Later came the gospel-tinged Leap of Faith, based on the 1992 film starring Steve Martin as a faith-healing charlatan, and the stage version of the Whoopi Goldberg vehicle Sister Act (pictured below right).

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