Interview: Playing multiple roles with Josh Higgott, David Morley Hale and Simon Coates

Interview: Playing multiple roles with Josh Higgott, David Morley Hale and Simon Coates

Friday, 12 December 2014

Young reporter, Amy Holmes, talks to three Regeneration actors about the challenging task of playing multiple roles.

What are the challenges of playing multiple roles?

Coates: The way I looked at it was to try and make a distinct difference between my characters, but not to the extent that it becomes obvious that you’re trying to make a massive leap. There’s a line that you have to be careful not to cross.

Higgott: My character Campbell is quite distinct – he’s got a twitch – so I can rely on the audience to make those distinctions themselves without me having to overact.

Morely Hale: I agree with Josh – the distinctions made in the writing really help conjure up an image of the character.

Coates: It’s also really helpful having things like coats, wigs, hats and moustaches to help the audience differentiate instantly between characters.

How do you find acting multiple roles in comparison to playing one singular role?

Coates: Having two or three really nice supporting roles can be equally as challenging as having one solid singular role.

Higgott: The things you look for come from the depth of the text, regardless of whether it’s in one scene or a whole lot, for example Doctor Yealland is only in one scene, but it’s a fantastic scene and makes a big impact on the audience.


How do you prepare for your roles?

Coates: Before I go on stage I warm up and go over my lines. I like to be alone before particularly demanding scenes, such as the electroshock treatment scene, so I can focus.

Higgott: With this play, that has so many real-life characters, there’s a huge amount of material that you can read. I read Sassoon’s diaries and Owen’s letters and books by Rivers. It gave me an idea of what it was like, and gave me a lot of background knowledge that I could fall back on in rehearsals.

Describe what it is like to be acting in such a significant wartime play in the year that commemorates the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War

Morely Hale: I personally found it a huge honour. It’s been such an enriching experience because I didn’t know much about the First World War, and I knew very little about Sassoon and Owen, so it has been a fantastic learning experience for me.

Coates: My grandmother came to see the play last week and I was having dinner with her beforehand, and her father was shot and wounded at the Somme. It really drives home to you how relatively close an event it was, that somebody could come to see this play whose father was going through the same things Owen and Sassoon were.

Morely Hale: The war is just beyond living memory. The vast majority of people have connections to it. I would vastly recommend that everyone who had family members who fought in the war did some research on it.

Coates: I was talking to my dad who was born in 1929. He remembers adults in his childhood who would refuse to talk about the war, or were changed forever because of the loss. He remembers vividly women who wore black all the time in mourning.


Were your performances inspired by your family’s wartime experiences?

Coates: I think we all took inspiration from the research we did.

Morely Hale: My grandfather was in the first war and just a few weeks ago I got his records. He fell off a motorbike when he was on leave and got invalided out of the war. There was a letter from him to the army in there asking if he could be re-commissioned! My mother told me he was poisoned by mustard gas.


What has been your favourite part of performing Regeneration, whether on stage or during rehearsals?

Morely Hale: The opening night was Armistice Day, and someone had the idea for us all to do the curtain call in our poppies. It was a very moving experience.

















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.