Interview With An Actor.

May 20, 2015
She's the Queen of Kings at the moment - the star of Henry V - Lion of England at The Wheatsheaf Pub in Fitzrovia, London W1.  Produced by our theatre company Maverick, and written by our writer Nick Hennegan, we asked Simon Plant to go talk to star, Eleanor Dillon-Reams about being Shakespeare's most famous King.


Eleanor Dillon-Reams.

Henry V is one of Shakespeare’s biggest plays.  How come you are the only actor?


The piece has been partly rewritten, edited and chopped up to a short and snappy 75 minute version, but yes there are still 12 characters, all played by one me; it’s definitely a risk but it’s also so exciting, so why not?

How do you fight the Battle of Agincourt on your own in a room above a pub?


With a big heavy sword, shield, and metal breast plate… the rest you’ll have to come and find out for yourself! 

Henry V was a man.  And Shakespeare’s plays were all written for men.  How is it being a woman playing this part?


I've been very aware from day one of even auditioning for the piece that I'd be not only taking on a huge lead role but one that is famous for being played by many of the great MALE actors; Olivier, Brannagh, etc. and required to lead an entire army into battle and to have the authority to command a whole nation. Being a 20 something woman means I'm not necessarily as strong or physically big as any of the previous Henry's that have taken on this solo version of Henry V, and a huge part of the rehearsal process was looking at how to make myself more masculine and my voice deeper - like a man. It's been a real exploration, but ultimately coming to the conclusion that I'm not a man! So rather than desperately trying to emulate one, the piece will inevitably be different because you have a woman playing the role, and that's not a hindrance, it's really bloody exciting!

I adore classical works but usually women, particularly in these classical texts have not only fewer parts within a company but roles such as the wife of... or the maid, why not have them as the dictator, the leader? There are far fewer opportunities for women than men in theatre, not only in performing on the stage but also as writers, directors, stage-management etc. I am incredibly proud to be working with both a female director and female stage manager for this production, and hope that by having a female Henry V it will provoke audiences to question their own expectations of both gender and leadership.

It's already proved to be a hugely exciting and provocative recipe for success with companies such as Smooth Faced Gents, and Phyllida Lloyd's productions of Julius Caesar and Henry IV selling out and receiving rave reviews, so I hope this is the beginning of a wave of exciting changes throughout the industry.

How did you get the part?


I worked with Katie Merritt- (Director of Henry V; Lion of England) briefly whilst training at East 15 and heard she was casting this show and looking for men, so I emailed asking whether she was gender blind casting? She said absolutely and invited me in to audition! Gender blind casting is something I really campaign for and believe women CAN do it just as well as men, so I am no exception to that belief!

Are there any problems starring in a play that has been so successful in the past?


There was undoubtedly the pressure to ‘pull it off’ again, and it’s odd when you’re aware there’s the potential to be directly compared with someone.  This version is slightly different in that we’ve added in one of the female characters, and a scene in French! We’ve had audience in who’ve seen it before and we have had glowing feedback from them for this production of the show - so onwards and upwards!

How long have you been acting and how did you get into it?


I've wanted to act ever since I played the very prestigious role of ‘green ball’ in Stanford Infant's production of The Nutcracker at the age of 4! I'm pretty sure I cried the entire performance, then thought yep right there, that does it for me! I trained properly at East 15 Acting School on the BA acting course, and graduated in 2012. Since I graduated I've been fortunate enough to do lots of theatre, ranging from the classics, to dance and physical theatre, to most recently my own new writing at the wonderful Shake it Up! A brilliant new writing night held by Shaky Isles Theatre/

Did you train?


Yes, I did the three year BA Acting course at East 15 Acting School.

Did your parents influence your career choices?


My Dad writes and directs, but I think would have hoped Id have gone into a career a little more secure! He was a wonderful story teller when my siblings and I were little and I always loved how hed do all the different voices and make it all come to life. It didnt take either my Mum or Dad very long to realise this was what I wanted to do, (and was stubborn enough not to give up on it!) Theyve always encouraged each of us to follow our dreams, Ive been very lucky to have such supportive parents.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of being an actor?


If there’s anything else you want to do….do that! It’s very difficult and knocks you down and slaps you across the face, but I suppose it’s like an addiction and the hit you get from performing isn’t like anything else in the world! So if you really, really do want it, don’t give up, don’t take no for an answer - just keep swimming! 

Why should I come and see ‘Henry V - Lion of England’?


Henry V is never more relevant than at a time of political unrest such as we find ourselves in today, this one man (or woman I should say!), version is fast-paced, thrilling and unlike anything else you’ll see at the theatre at the moment. Plus it’s in the heart of Soho, above a pub… what more could you want?!

Any final thoughts?
 

See you there!


Henry V - Lion of England runs till the end of June.  For further information see www.HenryVPlay.com.

 

We missed you!

May 15, 2015


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Dylan Thomas Day.

May 7, 2015

An Evening at The Wheatsheaf Pub, Rathbone Place, London, W1. 8pm

Dylan's Day is a celebration of Dylan Thomas.  14 May has been chosen because marks the day Under Milk Wood was first read in public.

We hope you can join us for what will be a memorable night. As you know, we produced Under Milk Wood on the 60th anniversary of Dylan's death and we were involved in Griff Rhys JonesDylan Thomas in Fitzrovia Festival, so I feel very close to the Welsh Wizard!  We're planning music, poetry and a r...
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OLIVIER AWARDS 2015 WITH MASTERCARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED

April 12, 2015

This just in....

  • The Young Vic’s A View From The Bridge takes home Best Revival, Best Actor for Mark Strong and Best Director for Ivo Van Hove.
  • Hampstead Theatre’s West End transfer of Sunny Afternoon wins the most awards for any single production and is crowned MasterCard Best New Musical 
  • Dame Angela Lansbury receives her first Olivier for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Blithe Spirit and Penelope Wilton is named Best Actress for Taken At Midnight 
  • Mike Bartlett takes home two prizes ...

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Who will be the next Dr Who...?

April 8, 2015
...sorry... Henry V!  It only occurred to me whilst talking to a former Dr Who actor, that for our Henry V we will be recruiting the fifth actor to reincarnate the role since we first performed it back in 1992 - a bit like the famous BBC series does!

We're actively searching now for a new actor to take on the huge role!  It's always been a big ask!  The actor is onstage constantly for over an hour, has to play twelve characters with conviction and fight the Battle of Agincourt at the end!

Injur...
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About Me


Nick Hennegan Hello. I started the London Literary Pub Crawl and most of the blogs on here will be by me. I've always written but my first theatrical success was an adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Henry V'. I founded Maverick Theatre in 1994. This pub crawl is really more a promenade theatre performance than a tour and I'm running it with Katie Merritt, who came on board to direct in 2014 and a bunch of enthusiastic local actors and writers. I love sharing my passion for the area and the artists. I also present a radio show on Resonance 104.4fm - London's Arts Station. It's called 'Literary London' and is on Fridays at 7pm (and repeated Weds at 7am.) If you haven't visited us in London yet, I hope you'll come soon. And feel free to leave comments or email me at nick @ LiteraryLondon.co - I reply to them all and I love to hear from you.

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