Friday, 17 February 2012

Tell me a story...

To me, not just as an actor, but an all-around theatre person, the most important thing to do while on stage is tell a good story. All other aspects of theatre are still important, but if the story is missing or flawed, those aspects are irrelevant. For example, you can have a wonderful set design or cutting-edge lighting and sound, but without a story to support, you might as well be in a museum. You can have amazing choreography or someone with an exceptional singing voice, but without a story to tell via the dance moves or through the lyrics, all you have is someone showing off their craft. You can have outstanding actors with the ability to evoke any emotion on demand, but without a story to tell, well, they’re just being pretentious. (There’s actually a word for that kind of theatre, but it’s a bit rude so ask me later and I’ll tell you.)

The same applies to other works of art as well, film and TV particularly. If you’re not telling me a good story, I’m changing the channel or walking out of the cinema. (Actually I would never walk out of a cinema. I did walk out of a theatre once during intermission – and I felt so bad! But it had to be done.) At a stretch you could even say the best music or the best paintings, for example, tell stories in a way.

Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with going to a museum or watching someone perform their craft on stage … but it’s not theatre. Theatre requires an additional element: the story. This is why I love being an actor. I get to tell a story through performance, through acting it out. It’s also why I love being a writer, though in that case, especially with playwriting, there’s inevitably a point where you have to finish messing with your creation and relinquish your storytelling power to someone else, say, a director or a producer.

I’m mentioning all this because the other day I was looking over my recent (i.e. London) acting history, and I realized that the theatre productions I’m most proud of – the ones where I felt a good story was told – have all been with the same theatre company. Myriad Productions specializes in adapting classic novels, and they have been perfecting this craft for many years. Since they’re focussed on classics, there’s already a good story there. But the adaptations are done so well, in my opinion, that you can tell the adaptor has fully understood and has digested the novel’s meaning and author’s intentions, and is able to produce that on stage and expertly bring out the dramatic parts of plotlines. They’re also fun to perform, and engaging to watch.

I’ve performed with them twice previously, in The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and The Count of Monte Cristo, and now my third production with them, Anna Karenina, is opening this coming Tuesday (21 February). I am so excited about this show that I have invited just about everyone I know living in London. I have invited casting directors and producers and reviewers, and I still have an itching to invite more people. If anyone reading this blog knows of any reviewers or industry people who would be interested in seeing some new talent, get in touch with me via my website or my twitter or somesuch.

I’m playing the young, sexy, military man Count Vronsky in this new adaptation of Anna Karenina at the Barons Court Theatre. We run from 21 February until 3 March with performances every night at 7:30pm (except Sunday and Monday). If you are reading this blog, then you should come see me. Full details are on the Myriad Productions website or the Facebook event page. (I’ll update my website this weekend so it includes the number to call to reserve tickets.)

So come see me on stage. Come watch a well-told story, with superb acting skills on display (I hope). No guarantees, but I may or may not look like this:  


1 comment:

  1. Bravo Jonathon! And Bravo to Myriad Productions! Break a leg with each show!

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