08 July 2012

Star-studded times

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, and joyous time of creativity.
The RSC are on peak form, and I've fortunate to have work (lots for a pleasant change!) surrounding the current season of productions.
The new production of Richard III is simply brilliant, with Jonjo O'Neill doing an hilarious and amazing job of playing Shakespeare's most daringly crafted villains. Paola Dionisotti returns to the RSC stage, after a 17 year hiatus, as Queen Margaret. She gracious offered her time for a hugely enjoyable post-performance discussion session with my HF Holidays group.   

Paola Dionisotti shares her journey to playing Queen Margaret

Group photo at Harrington House

The other production that seems to be featuring heavily in my life these days is Greg Doran's stunning rendering of Julius Caesar. Paterson Joseph, a chum of mine from "the good old days", is making a triumphant return to the RSC as Brutus. Caught up with him after the show to wish him a "Happy Birthday", and had to get a photo of him in the tshirt his wife sent him from France, appropriately bearing the words: "Et tu, Brute?" Which, in French, apparently means "Stupid." Fascinating.

Paterson Joseph in his "Caesar" shirt

When not running round lecturing over the past few weeks, I have been doing the legwork producing a reading of "Song of Songs" at/for Barford Church. The experience, though exhausting, has been sheer joy. And has reminded me of "my old self". The director/producer me. The "mover and shaker" me in NYC.  The production was a sheer delight and gave me the opportunity work with two of Britain's brightest and dearly loved stars: Timothy West and Prunella Scales, who kindly lent their talent to our fundraising efforts.

Rehearsal for Song of Songs

Tim and Pru were both so lovely. The only way I can describe is adorable! Truly. So kind, gracious and generous. And, of course incredibly talented. Every director's dream!
During rehearsal, I got dewy-eyed and nearly wept with joy at the sound of these two legendary actors reading the luscious language of "Song of Songs". Sometimes, when you are in midst of things, there's very little time to reflect on just how significant the moment truly is. This time, I stopped, pinched myself, and whispered, "Hey, look at you, you're doing this!" It was truly amazing.
Hearing that I'd produced and directed this production, one of my former students emailed me and asked, rather cheekily whether I'd "made Prunella Scales and Timothy West do the 'Vowel Wheel'" -- one of the dreaded warm-up exercises I used to put my students through on a regular basis. We didn't do the Vowel Wheel, but we did do a brief warm-up!
I can't wait to do something like this again. It is always good to have a reminder of what you can do, when given half a chance. In the end, we raised over £2000 for church funds, a real relief in these difficult times.

Timothy West and Prunella Scales

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