Interview: Regeneration's Jack Monaghan and Garmon Rhys

Interview: Regeneration's Jack Monaghan and Garmon Rhys

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Monaghan plays northern officer, Billy Prior and Rhys portrays war poet, Wilfred Owen in Regeneration. I caught up with them both to discuss how they get into a role, bring comedy to the piece and how they relax after a performance. By young reporer Grace Wakes.

How does an actor prepare for a role such as this?

I think each person has their own process on how they prepare for a role. For Regeneration, I researched first, mainly the terminology with regards to the army ranks. We were quite lucky as we had a visit from an army charity with a guy who had served in the Middle East.

Garmon: He explained how being on the front line affects you once you are back home, when you can't quite reach that adrenaline high you experience during war or able to achieve those strong bonds you make amongst your fellow servicemen, I never really thought about it in that way before.

Jack: When it came to researching shell shock, there are a lot of documentaries online, but I chose not to watch those. I didn't want to know too much about it as Prior wouldn’t have had any knowledge about it, it was a completely new phenomenon at the time.

Jack Monaghan and Garmon Rhys backstage on Regeneration

Jack, how do you create humour in such a reflective piece? Do you consider yourself to be a naturally comedic act?

Jack is just not funny (joking!)

J: I really have to give all credit to Nicholas Wright and Pat Barker, who have done an excellent job of bringing this piece alive. I definitely believe that a play such as this, needs humour, it needs that comic relief.

G: I think the humour ties in as how we are as humans, how the troops were at the time.

J: I think its important to recognise that these people have not always been in wartime, that they are human and have led a life beforehand.


Garmon, You play Wilfred Owen in Regeneration, did this inspire you to read war poetry or even create some of your own?

G: It definitely has encouraged me to read war poetry and pick back up a pen to write some of my own. The role was a great opportunity to go back to school and learn the content again when you're aged 12 and 13, you don't pay as much attention as you should to war poetry, but as an actor in Regeneration, you are given a second chance to learn these pieces.

I often wonder what actors do once they leave the stage and how they deal with the comedown from the high of the performance. Can you tell me about that?

J: Booze! No, we definitely socialise a lot as a cast and that helps. It can take a lot of time to calm down from the adrenaline high after a performance.

G: I think it is important to look after yourself, especially when you have two performances per day, it's definitely important to rest.

J: I agree with that, once the adrenaline disappears, all I want to do is sleep.


How long does it take from gaining the role to achieving what we see on stage today?

J: Per play, you usually get 4-6 weeks rehearsal time, for Regeneration, it took 4 weeks to rehearse. I knew about the role about two months prior to this, so I had the time to research and get into the head of Billy Prior.

G: The play is always constantly changing, it really can depend on how the audience reacts, the vibe in the room. For example, when we played in Edinburgh, there were a few more laughs when local references were made.

Can you pinpoint the moment when you decided to become an actor and who are your inspirations?

J: Unlike many in this industry, I didn't go to drama school. I studied science at university but knew then I wanted to become an actor. I was highly inspired by my teacher at the local am-dram group, Colin Wood, I really admired his energy, work ethic and his passion for youth theatre.

G: I knew when I first sang in front of an audience when  I was 7 or 8, I think I enjoyed the attention at the time, I started to seriously consider it through sixth form but chose to study mathematics at university.  Going back to being 7 or 8, I would say Leonardo DiCaprio was an inspiration in Titanic, I guess I had a similar haircut and wanted to be like him.

J: Acting is definitely a profession that people who don't want to retire from and that's why  I was attracted to it.


Finally, what is the best thing about being part of the Regeneration family?

G: For me, it was my first professional job since I graduated from drama school, it's nice to work with people who you've previously seen on stage, I definitely think you are always learning in this job.

J: I think that being on tour especially, offers its range of experiences, you are spending time with people who are at different stages in their life, those who have a family or are newly engaged, it gives you hope that there is definitely a future in acting and they prove that you can have a lot of fun along the way!

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.