A word from the producer: The West End drama climate and actors’ memory

A word from the producer: The West End drama climate and actors’ memory

Friday, 5 September 2014

Touring Consortium producer Jenny King catches King Charles III in the West End, where she hopes Regeneration will also find a home after its autumn tour and raft of rave reviews this week.


 

Tim Pigott-Smith as King Charles III
Tim Pigott-Smith as King Charles III

 

Aglow with a raft of four- and five-star reviews for Regeneration following our opening at Northampton, Royal & Derngate on Tuesday, I’m trotting along Charing Cross Road and pass by Wyndham’s Theatre. Outside, there’s a sign advertising £10 tickets on the day for King Charles III.

I can’t resist a bargain – so I pop in to the box office and emerge with two £10 tickets for a box at the back of the stalls for that night’s performance. The box can only be entered from the street and you exit the same way. It seats four and has its own private lavatory. My husband joins me in the West End at 7pm. We grab a quick salt beef sandwich, then mosey down to Wyndham’s to find the manager, who unlocks the door from the street to the box and lets us in.

King Charles III, fresh from its sell-out run at the Almeida, is about to enjoy a second night sell-out performance. With us in our £10 box at the back of the stalls, I have a good view of the audience as well as the stage. An opportunity to assess the climate of drama in the West End...

The audience loved it. No doubt about it. Mike Bartlett’s play, written in iambic pentameter, is a rather loving satire on Prince Charles at root. A gentle enquiry into the nature of the Crown in Parliament. And it’s amusing, with many chuckles – though I admit to longing for a bit more bite, a bit more sting.

My good friend, Roger Haines, visited at the weekend. He is directing a new touring production of The Full Monty, which opens in Manchester at the end of September.

Roger told me of his new approach to emailing actors before the start of rehearsals requesting that they study their roles in advance and, if possible, memorise as much of their part as they can before the first day. One can’t insist upon this, of course, unless the actor is being paid to ‘work’ during this time.

But it made me think about the actors in Canada who learn even their audition pieces in advance. There’s more competition for actors to get work in Canada. As a result, there they don’t take any chances. It’s an impressive and dedicated approach. Many UK actors haven’t even read the play they’re auditioning for, I’m afraid.


Regeneration premiered on 2 September 2014 (previews from 29 August) at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it continues until 20 September 2014. It then tours to York, Edinburgh, Bradford, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Richmond, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Blackpool where it concludes on 29 November.

Regeneration premiered on 2 September 2014 (previews from 29 August) at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it continues until 20 September 2014. It then tours to York, Edinburgh, Bradford, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Richmond, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Blackpool where it concludes on 29 November.