Past Productions Visiting Productions

Krapp’s Last Tape

We were privileged to have Tom Owen present his one man show, direct from the Edinburgh Festival and his national tour. The show was directed by Fiona Baddeley.

Krapp's Last Tape
Life in the old dog yet

Krapp lies hunched over his desk, blue waves playing on his grey hair and the sound of sloshing water transporting his dreams back to ‘that memorable night in March at the end of the jetty’. It makes for a vulnerable first image of the man yet when he wakes, and Tom Owen turns his piercing eyes out on to the audience, the light instantly robs him of the momentary peace of dreams and Beckett’s cantankerous old git rises again.

This Krapp isn’t just swaying in the doorway between this life and the next, but feels as if he has already fallen through, the decay taking hold down his stained shirt. Though at the same time, there is evidently life in the old dog yet, and as he scurries off stage for books and bottles and boxes you start to question whether his decline may, like all things, just be part of Krapp’s performance to the world. Owen makes a suitably gruff, phlegmy and prickly Krapp, but from the very first ‘spooool’ he seems to be making an outward demonstration rather than just relishing the words internally.

Visiting Actors

This year the LVI had the privilege of working with three professional actors. George DillonAt the beginning of the Easter Term I had cast some of them in Steven Berkoff’s Metamorphosis which would be performed for the A level examiner in the Summer term. They quickly realised that this was not a naturalistic piece of theatre and there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm; this wasn’t going to be like taking part in the school play. I decided that a quick and intense immersion in Berkoff’s theatre was needed and the best person I could think of to do this was George Dillon. George has worked with Steven Berkoff as both director and performer on thirteen productions and Berkoff has paid him the compliment of saying he was simply “the best example of someone to watch how to perform”. George has a strident intensity about him and rapidly put the LVI through their paces; there were warm-up exercises that really pushed the boundaries of what they could express physically and then a rigorous look at the first section of the text. By the end the LVI were exhausted but had a much better understanding of what this production needed, and it was an understanding that could be physicalised rather than intellectualised - which was just what was needed.

James RochfortWhen half way through directing the A level and GCSE pieces I realised that I would have to take some time off work I panicked. I needed to find someone who would take over directing and maintain the high standard that the pupils were capable of achieving. After a couple of unsuccessful applicants for the job I decided to contact James Rochfort, a professional actor living in the West Country. James brought enthusiasm, a sense of fun and a real knowledge of his craft. The pupils were delighted to be taught by someone who appeared in their television screens in Lewis and who some remembered from East Enders. More importantly, James really cared that they should all fulfil their potential and took pride in the performances that each individual gave. James is simply and excellent director of young people and he brought out the best in the pupils he worked with. I am very grateful for all his help and support. Watching the final performance of Metamorphosis it was simply impossible to tell that it was the work of two directors, and that is due to his talent and skill.

In the final weeks of the summer, term Caroline Quentin very kindly offered to take a master class with the LVI. I have always admired Caroline’s versatility as an actress. Caroline QuentinI have seen her in comedy, serious drama and musical theatre (many years ago I saw the original production of the Les Miserables in which she appeared). I was even more in awe of her when she told me that she had also done ‘stand up’ at the famous Comedy Store. It was with some trepidation, therefore, that I met up with her to chat over what form her class would take. What impressed me about her was that the warmth, charm and approachability that came across so strongly in her recent documentary A Passage Through India, and that is present in so many of her comic creations, is even more in evidence in real life. Caroline exudes enthusiasm and a sense of fun but this underpinned a real knowledge of the craft of the actor and an intuitive sense of what is needed to bring out the best in an individual performer. In the course of her class she managed to reinvigorate some text work that had become decidedly stale, win the trust of the pupils, have fun with them and also push them to their performing limits. A part of me really wanted to join in but, in fact, I learnt much more from watching. Thank you Caroline, and please come back again.