the explosion of writing on my arrival here, there has been
a gap… a space… not because I didn't have anything to write
about, but because I have either been too busy or too tired
to get it together. I suppose writing about things that have
opened over the last one and a half months I will have to be
vague and précis… and of course not writing it at the time,
events lose their immediacy, but however… here goes: I think
I left off after our triumphant opening night.
that New York Times review, the other ones that really counted
were The Voice and Time Out. Both were raves. We were Time Out's
Critic's Choice and I got a nice mention in dispatches in The
Voice. Other reviews were just as enthusiastic and so we became
a smash hit… quite unusual for a Shakespeare. Our rivals also
did quite well. I mean La Streep, Kevin Kline, John Goodman,
Christopher Walken, Natalie Portman et al in The Cherry Orchard
in the Park. They didn't have the rave reviews… although unanimous
in their praise and homage to La Streep, but the tickets were
free and people were queuing up from 5 o'clock the day before
and sleeping out over night.
is quite something to have experienced and survived a summer
in New York. The temperature reached up to 102 degrees, but
it was the humidity that could be so debilitating. We had a
period of time where the air conditioning was blowing out luke-warm
air and the audience and we were in danger of dehydration, but
then Nate, our company manager, discovered that it was missing
Phearon(spelling?)… anyway the magic ingredient that cools the
water… and we were all blessedly cool again. Until we stepped
outside onto the concrete, which you could probably, cook on…
How on earth did they survive before A/C? No wonder it was so
violent! Which brings me to a point of observation. What you
do notice here is the absence of aggression or hints of violence
that often pervade the streets of English cities… even on Saturday
or Sunday nights… it just isn't there. It's a pleasant change
not having to watch your back all the time.
inside improved up to a point… we got rid of the red gnats and
there were no more Suree mouse reports… although last week a
rat, the size of a small cat, was seen scuttling away in the
basement area below the stage! We are now coping with the dust
because the same said basement area is being turned into another
theatre space… so builders and dust are flying around… However
it gives us actors something else to moan about which we love
big development as far as the show is concerned is Peter decided
to extend it. It is now moving to another theatre The Manhattan
Ensemble Theater in SoHo from the end of September. I won't
be going with it of course as I'm committed to Prospero and
the tour…(leading the company!). Other replacements are for
Alex who is leaving to do Mice and Men in Washington… and Nate
(Claudio) who is coming with me on tour to play Caliban and
to get married to the beautiful Missy!!
think they hope to run the show there at least until Thanksgiving.
For the company of Aquila it's quite a major step, raising their
profile in New York. It means they'll have two companies, touring
and NY based. Peter is also seriously pursuing a real estate
deal for an Aquila theatre in Manhattan. So exciting times for
all. I'm relieved that Much Ado has proved such a hit for Robert
and it has given him and all of us the boost of energy that
we needed for the run and for The Tempest… mind you, it's just
as well… Robert is now rehearsing three plays, the recast of
Much Ado, The Tempest and the Iliad… not to mention the teaching
that he still has to do!!
had an evening of great excitement when Valerie Harper of Rhoda
TV fame came to see the show. A genuine icon and star over here,
she was just about to open on Broadway herself. After the show
Peter brought her down into the bowels of Bleeker, so she could
say well done. Her husband who was with her asked if any of
us were members of SAG. It seems she's going up for President
of it… at least I think that's what he said… anyway we said
that we weren't but if we became members… We then had to leave
her to go and reset our own props and costumes… which confused
Valerie… potential union leader.
big disaster of the summer months was when I had my wallet stolen.
I had absolutely everything in it… Green card, social security
card, credit cards… I had gone to the juice bar and left it
on the counter. Somebody walked off with it… they used the cards
to get subway tickets and that was about all, but the headache
of replacing everything that was in there was a nightmare. First
stop was the police station… 9th Precinct. Which if things hadn't
been so tragic, was exciting because it fulfilled everything
that I had expected… huge desk sergeant… very laid back officers…
wise-cracking policemen. There was even the huge guy in handcuffs;
tattoos all over, who was hysterically funny as he was trying
to look so innocent. It was obvious just by looking at him that
he was as guilty as hell! The police were as helpful as they
could be and were very courteous, and I suppose as far as crimes
go in the city it was pretty small. No one got hurt after all.
It was just stuff… oh, and the wedding ring which I had put
in the wallet for safekeeping during the show… but besides that!
living with Robert and Dionne up at Morning Heights on 125th.
It is so convenient for rehearsals as Lincoln Center is 20 mins
door to door. Always something going on there. Richard Eyre
was next door to us in the studio, casting for The Crucible,
which he is doing with Liam Neeson on Broadway next year. Tony
tried to gatecrash… which I observed with admiration. Last week
the MTV Music Awards took place across the road and the Met…
so the place was buzzing with security and limousines. Puff
Daddy kicked us out of our rehearsal room to rehearse his act.
Michael Jackson made a surprise appearance on stage and stole
the show. Lindsay Rae (Miranda) saw him for his tribute concert
at Madison Square Gardens and said it was wonderful. Apparently
Marlon Brando was there which would have been enough excitement
have reached an incredibly busy stage. We are into the last
stages of The Tempest and Iliad and doing Much Ado at night.
I have been very tired over the last couple of weeks, but once
I leave Much Ado, things will be much easier. We had a bit of
setback at the beginning of rehearsals when Aussie Mark (Trinculo)
injured his knee in the storm… and had to go off and have surgery.
On the mend now… and hopefully it will make a full recovery
with the breaks and traveling on the tour. But just brought
it home how precarious you are in a physical theatre company.
I had a great idea for putting the lovely Miranda on my shoulders…
she however wasn't so sure that it was such a good idea and
she went one way and I went another and consequently I pulled
something in my back… which still twinges two weeks later… Guess
I'm not as young as I once was!
cast for the tour is very nice, (well I have to say that as
they might read this!), and young… always a good thing to have
the fresh energy around to give you a different perspective
on things, and I think we'll have a good time. We've got some
very organized people or who are good at organizing, with Nate
Terracio at the controls for the first part of the tour.
of the summer for me was Moulin Rouge. Flawed certainly, but
daring and with great visual flare and wonderful music. All
in all the films have been pretty awful… Tomb Raider, Planet
of the Apes, Musketeer being some of the risible examples… only
compensation was seeing English actors shamelessly taking the
have just returned from a wonderful thunderstorm. The weather
in New York seems to be always dramatic… I have yet to see drizzle
or even light rain… it just lashes down. Most of the days are
bright sunshine… which makes a wonderful change from drab British
was with some astonishment that I realized that England Germany
world cup qualifier was timed miraculously when I happened not
to be rehearsing and before I had to be at the theatre for the
Saturday matinee. The search was on for a bar downtown to watch
the game. New York and indeed America hasn't quite cottoned
on to the importance of the world game, and New York was awash
with Irish and English searching for the best venue… very few
bars were showing it. Finally found Nevada Smiths, an English
run bar downtown… the only trouble was the Irish game was first
thing in the morning… so when I arrived with Alex, a great football
fan, unusually for an American, we were in severe danger of
not getting in; infact I was within a whisker of giving it up
as a lost cause. But at the last minute we were ushered in,
and having paid our $20 cover charge, we found ourselves in
the bar's packed basement. The next couple of hours were joyous
as I was transported back home by my fellow countrymen. An English
football fan is the same in whatever country… some Irishmen
tried good humouredly to wind us up, especially when Germany's
goal went in, but after that it was like birthday, Xmas and
New Year rolled into one as we thrashed the Germans 5-1. The
only problem was trying not to shout too much with the joy of
it all. 30 years is a long time to wait, but I reckon it was
worth it just for the joy of humiliating the Germans on their
home turf… and if that sounds cruel, well you obviously haven't
seen the Germans celebrations when they beat us in the Euro
2000 penalty shoot-out.
I had to make sure that all the company knew just what a momentous
international event had occurred and proceeded to drop in references
throughout the Much Ado performance. Happy day!!
more week of Much Ado and I have to say I will be relieved to
be able to concentrate fully on Prospero. This schedule is tough
working 10 til 10, which it has been for most of the last seven
feel tremendously strong about Prospero... the challenging big
parts you have to wrestle with, fight, and sweat blood over...
they demand tremendous concentration and thought… meditation...
and I'm just talking about the preparation... and if you are
brave, they can bring out the best in you. I have an idea about
a stroke … is valid in so many ways... he is after all by their
high wrongs struck to the quick... it's a good illustration
of life without art... or at least how I feel about it... and
The stroke, if indeed that is what it is, is an instinctive
idea... I just think that the epilogue is not as cosy as it
first appears... and may be the biggest freedom is the undiscovered
country... the image of human life as a masque whose action
must pass away, as no doubt the great world itself will pass
away. Is sleeps a name, a euphemism, for extinction: or is our
life a dream from which we shall wake to behold a world of reality
incomparably more wonderful than we can imagine? This is the
burden that weighs upon Prospero... Peter Brook describes the
epilogue in detail in a lecture he gave in Berlin... and talks
about its metaphysical make-up, but also the enigma... the unexplained...
so what has all this got to do with me dying at the end? Have
absolutely no clue, except it feels like it might be a good
idea! On the other hand I might decide it's crap tomorrow. Purists
I'm sure will hate it, but out in Iowa…?
been taken on by an agent called Francis DelDuka who works for
Fifi-Oscard. He saw the show and asked me to come in and talk.
Not much he can do for me at the moment, but hope it might lead
to something later on. Still can't do us both any harm.
My daughter Sam auditioned and got into the drama course at
Lewisham College. Since she left school at 12 this is very encouraging
news. Brave of her and brave of Jane who runs the course to
take her on. I spoke to Sam today and she had a good first day
and (God be Praised) liked her fellow pupils who are a great
deal older than she is! I am keeping everything crossed.
Back ..... Forward