A big part of last year was my continued work with the legendary Steven Berkoff.
After the success of the world premier of his play "6 Actors in Search of a Director" in London's West End, I went into the rehearsal room with Steve and Jay Benedict for an intense two month workshop for "An Actor's Lament" a new three hander play written by & starring Berkoff.
Our workshop process resulted in an unique piece of theatre with no set, costumes or props and everything mimed. With an awesome script in rhyming verse, it was a challenge to learn.
Bringing the character of Sarah to life proved the most rewarding experience. After a couple of secret try outs "out of town" to hone the script and staging, we previewed the play in Berwick before premièring at the main stage of Assembly at the Edinburgh Festival. An 850 seat thrust stage was exposing but the houses packed out & we had a rather marvellous run.
Berkoff has plans to take the play to a wider audience in 2014... as they say, watch this space!
★★★★★ From "The Times", August 8 2013:
Let us not forget that Steven Berkoff has other talents than infuriating Twitter ladies in rash interviews.
His show in Edinburgh, which opened on his 76th birthday, is a glorious, iambically elegant rant about actors, playwrights, directors, audiences and — ahem! — critics. We are a “squalid mass of bilious scum, tone-deaf, half-blind, rejected hacks, meddling, grubby, half-baked Oxbridge dropouts” offering mass opinion for loutish editors.
It’s rather wonderful. I am in love at last with the pitiless phenomenon that is Berkoff at full throttle (though it may have been the lurid green snakeskin shoes that sealed the deal). In an hour of cascading, swooping free verse, with Jay Benedict as a suave playwright and Andrée Bernard as an actress, he plays the master and plays the fool. His mime training is parodied as he twinkles round the stage, lighting and inhaling invisible fags, bridling, flirting, taking and giving offence, half playful and half paranoid. They discuss The Theatre, sometimes agreeing, sometimes at one another’s throats. “The West End now a stately morgue, Chekhov once again exhumed..” A row erupts over whether actors give “muscle” to writing, or writers animate the empty shell that is an actor.
They agree about audibility , sentimentalise about Rep. Andrée Bernard, with a marvellously affected actressy slink, riffs about the soul of Clytemnestra but is currently understudying a soap actress in a potboiler.
They scorn directorial technology. “Take your toys and play with them at home! Direct the traffic, do the lights!” says Benedict, and Berkoff adds, “and please don’t make me take my knickers off!” They despise screen stars with their multiple takes, but in a bleak moment Berkoff says with a thousand-yard stare: “On stage you have one take! It takes all night every night! For years and years . . . Hamlet dies again tomorrow, matinee at three.”
There are beauties amid the bitching: an affirmation that for audiences in cramped seats,
“ripped off by fat producers, overcharged for drinks”, the actor’s duty is to “carry them away”.
And when Berkoff speaks of playing Macbeth, “a murderer striding through your veins”, you shiver.