David Tudor on his role in Of Mice and Men

David Tudor on his role in Of Mice and Men

31 March 2016

by Helena Ascough

Interview: Of Mice and Men's ensemble and understudy David Tudor on preparing to play Curley, Whit and Slim and being on tour.

David Tudor at the beginning of dress rehearsals How do you prepare for the role of three characters?
It’s interesting, it’s the first time that I have done it. The difficulty is, because I watch it every night, is not to play all three of them in my head. Were I to go on, I would only be playing one of them, so I pretend that I’m going to be Curley tonight or Slim and I follow their journey throughout the whole show and I also try to pre-empt the line in my head that their about to say to be sure of the cue. They’re three very different characters but they are very good fun as well because they are all so different. It makes things slightly easier.


How do you become each character?
With Curley, it’s about how he values things. For me, looking at the text and in rehearsals, he is miserable, angry and when his wife dies it’s like someone has dinged his Ferrari! To get into Curley, it is physical… it’s about the walk and where his centre of gravity is and by repeating that, this gives you a sense of what leads a character. He leads with his fist and with his crotch and that informs the way you feel. For Slim, it was the boots and the hat and for Slim it is all about pace. Whit is a lovely character that could go many ways. To get in to Whit, it’s about finding him inside you.


Are there other challenges of being an understudy?
You’re employed to be a safe pair of hands, so you have got to be. Your obliged to go on with only a moments notice, which is exciting but it also means that if you wake up and you're a little bit tired or ill, you have got to tell yourself that it could be tonight. 


What is it like being an actor on tour?
It’s different in a company than when you are on your own. Your entire body clock changes, you have to not feel guilty about getting up at eleven because you finish work at ten.You have to figure out where you are going to do your washing - will the theatre let you? It’s great. I love touring. I really love it because when you are a tourist, you get to see what tourists see.


Why should audiences see this show?
It’s timeless. It’s about people. Like good Shakespeare. It is set in the 1930s but it's still relevant. It will be relevant in three hundred years as it’s about how humans interact with each other. If you want to see a mirror of a workplace and of people, that’s a great reason to come. It’s a fantastic story as it is drama through and through.

Of Mice and Men premieres at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, where it runs from 4 to 13 February 2016. It then tours to Cheltenham, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Darlington, Blackpool, Cambridge, Brighton, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Oxford and Leicester where it concludes on 28 May.