An Actor's Life: Tim Delap

An Actor's Life: Tim Delap

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tim Delap (Siegfried Sassoon in Regeneration) talks about playing one of the world's greatest war poets.

1. You play Siegfried Sassoon in Regeneration. How did you prepare yourself to play one of the world’s greatest war poets?

Thereʼs a huge amount of written material relating to Sassoon that I got stuck into before rehearsals began. I read a very good biography by John Stuart Roberts and then, of course, there are all of Sassoonʼs poems, diaries and memoirs. I havenʼt read everything by any means but enough to give me a really good sense of what made him tick. 

2. You look a bit like Sassoon, are you similar to him in any other ways?

Not a poet, not a war hero and sadly not a very good golfer. 

3. What is your dream role?

I actually donʼt have one. There are obviously lots of classic theatre roles that I would love have a go at but equally, I love the element of surprise in this profession. When I was invited to audition for Regeneration I didnʼt have a burning desire to play Siegfried Sassoon but when I read Nick Wrightʼs script here was suddenly a character I was desperate to play.

4. Which venue are you most looking forward to playing at on tour?

Playing the Kingʼs Theatre in Edinburgh last week was a huge highlight for all of us. Craiglockhart was just a couple of miles down the road so we all went along and roamed the corridors and the grounds. It has changed so much since 1917 and has now been opened up and extended by Napier University but there was still enough left of the original building to get a good sense of the place. I even managed to sneak onto the golf course behind Craiglockhart where Sassoon spent much of his time.

5. What were the biggest challenges for you during Regeneration rehearsals?

I was particularly bad at Simon(Godwin)ʼs word association game. It became a source of great frustration. Stephen Boxer was irritatingly good at it.

6. In the play, Sassoon and Owen have a brief love affair. How was it working with Garmon Rhys (who plays Wilfred Owen) in rehearsals to achieve this sensitive and touching relationship between the two characters?

Well, Garmonʼs a Man Utd fan so that made life very difficult! But....I think we both just relished having the opportunity to play these wonderfully passionate characters. Nickʼs script handles Sassoon and Owenʼs relationship so beautifully...theyʼre great scenes.

7. You have also appeared on television. What are the biggest differences between acting for TV and acting on the stage? Which do you prefer?

Essentially the job is the same and yet they couldnʼt be more different. I think the challenge on screen is that you have to arrive with your performance ready...there is very rarely any rehearsal time bar a couple of quick run throughs of the scene before the camera rolls. In theatre, you get weeks of rehearsal time and as such, it feels like a much more organic and collaborative process. The challenge on stage and particularly on a long tour is to keep that performance as fresh every night as it was on the first night...but itʼs a good challenge and the fact that itʼs a new audience each time, reacting in

their unique way, keeps it alive and exciting.

8. Which is your favourite Sassoon poem and why?

Hard to choose one so Iʼll choose two...ʼHow to Dieʼ and ʻEveryone Sangʼ. Like so many of his poems, I think they are full of heart, truth and satire. 

9. If you could have lived in any era, which would it be and why?

The 1920s looked fun.

10. If you had to sell Regeneration to us in one sentence, what would it be?

Itʼs...tremendously good.


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.