In between making cats fart (?) and learning that lemon meringue is a drum rhythm, Roger Evans and the rest of the Henry VI cast have been working on putting three plays together and finding the humour and sadness in it all.
Now, week 2. Work is carrying on a pace. Some of the big set pieces are starting to fall into place and Andy Sheridan’s [Earl of Warwick / Lord Talbot] and Gary Cooper’s [Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester] trumpet playing continues to astound everyone.
Nick has engendered real a sense of play in the room, after all that is what they are, plays. Though when it comes down to it it’s all business and everyone works very hard. It’s Beautiful.
It is a privilege to be in the same room as so many brilliant actors. Graham Butler is making some beautifully tender choices as Henry VI and the scenes are truly heartbreaking. The Gloucester/Winchester relationship is fascinating. Gary Cooper is all earthy protector and Mike Grady [Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester] is quietly sly and manipulative. It’s beautiful to watch them going at each other.
Beatriz Romilly scared the proverbial out me of as Joan of Arc and Joe Jameson and Andy Sheridan brought tears to my eyes in the Talbot and Son section.
I had a fantastic session with Giles Block [Master of Words] on Suffolk and my character Jack Cade. It was truly illuminating and invaluable.
Alex Baranowski [composer] has written a new song for the death of a character, which is hauntingly sung by Mary Doherty [Queen Margaret] and the company. If you don’t fill up with tears at that point you must be dead.
These plays are constantly surprising me. As we continue to work through them it’s amazing how powerful, moving and funny they are. Yes, funny. The first meeting of Suffolk and Margaret is extraordinary in its it use of humour. Knowing where they end up it makes it all the more amazing. I cannot wait to get into the room. Plus, playing opposite Mary is a joy.
I have learnt many things this week; such as, lemon meringue, steak and chips, and taramasalata are not food stuffs but are actually drum rhythms and that Dave Hartley [Young Clifford / Duke of Somerset ] has two big toes on each foot and hairy palms. However, my favorite has to be that if you squeeze a cat you can make it fart! (Don’t try this at home ). Now I have a picture of Nigel Hastings [Duke of Bedford / Duke of Burgundy / Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March / Dick the Butcher ] and Brendan O’Hea [Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York / Lewis XI, King of France] in my head, chasing cats all over the battlefields of England and failing to catch a single one.
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Next week there will be photos of me having a panic under layers of plaster of paris, whilst a mould is made of my head that will be used to create my two severed heads!!!
Giles Block, Master of the Text has written a book, Speaking the Speech: An Actors guide to Shakespeare. It is available to purchase from our shop.