The actor chatted to us about starring in Shaw Shorts at the Orange Tree Theatre.
Hi Jordan thanks for talking to me. Could you tell me a bit more about the plays being performed as part of Shaw Shorts? Shaw Shorts is a double-bill of short George Bernard Shaw plays that is reopening the Orange Tree Theatre to a live audience. Paul has cleverly chosen them as the first shows in the recovery season, as they’re very much the type of thing I think we need right now to reopen theatres to what may be a cautious live audience and I hope very much encourage people back. They’re a pair of snappy one-act comedy of manners style plays that both deal with themes of fidelity (or rather infidelity) in marriages. Expect giggles, frivolity and heart, just the right medicine after a year of doom and gloom!
How does it feel to be part of the revival of these plays? Very exciting! I’m lucky to be in both plays so I’m incredibly grateful after a year of practically no live theatre to get the opportunity to play around with two characters that are both very different to parts I’ve played before professionally. You can also have a lot of fun with these relatively unknown classic play revivals because the pressure is off in that there’s no recent productions for audiences to compare you to! In some ways it feels like you’re doing a brand-new play… except you don’t have a writer there to either help you out or tell you you’re getting it completely wrong!
What made you want to be part of Shaw Shorts? I’ve worked at the Orange Tree with Paul Miller, the director, before so it very much feels like coming home to me. I did Misalliance by Shaw with Paul before and had a blast getting to know the complexity of his writing. It’s a real challenge as an actor to untangle his elaborate texts and twisting plots, and then make it all trip off the tongue in a natural and nuanced way that makes complete and effortless sense. As someone who wasn’t hugely academic, I love that mental workout!
How does it feel to be able to perform on stage again? Honestly, I feel very very lucky and humbled to be heading back to the stage. I’ve spent the best part of a year and a half working a 9-5 job and finding DIY jobs to do about the house so I was very emotional when the offer came through and I knew I was going to be doing what I love again. There’s a huge sense in the industry that we’ve been waiting in the wings for this moment… well “beginners” has been called and we’re all ready for the curtains to rise again!
Were you at all familiar with the plays before being part of this production? No, not with these two. However, I’ve done two Shaw plays before as well as studied him at drama school so I’m very familiar with his writing. There’s a misconception that Shaw’s writing is very laboured, I think it’s very zippy actually and I’m definitely not the fastest reader! I think these two plays showcase just how snappy and feisty that fella could be!
What are you most looking forward to about performing in front of audiences again? The atmosphere and adrenaline of performing live… no amount of banana bread and Joe Wicks workouts can compete with that!
By Emma Clarendon
Shaw Shorts continues to play at the Orange Tree Theatre until the 26th June.