Hi Peter. Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself: Where did you grow up?
I was born in Swansea, Wales – though don’t sound Welsh due to my
being the son of a pair of English academics (an anthropologist and a
classicist). I would often visit my grandparents in London, so when I
went there (to study at The Central School of Speech & Drama) it was
an easy transition.
When did you move to DC and what was your first show in town?
This was also an easy transition. My beloved wife (half-Canuck,
half-Yank) dragged me over here two years ago.
I did two short plays in The H Street Playhouse as part the Madcap Winter Carnival of New Works.
It was like being part of a human mix-tape. This
was a great introduction to the DC theatre community as the eight
shows featured twenty actors who would show me around. Plus I must
publicly thank John Lescault and Naomi Jacobsen, who gave me a lot of
insider’s info. They should have charged me.
past—-as an actor our audience member?
When a first-year at Central, the final year did a showcase
performance of Fen. I was astounded by the skill of the writing, the
craftsmanship with which Churchill guides us through. I was moved and
haunted, and wanted to know more. The name Caryl Churchill is a seal
of quality, in the same league as Stoppard or Pinter.
What were your initial reactions to the script?
Confused, intrigued, then a frantic wiki-search to look up all the references.
How did you prepare for the start of rehearsals?
I went to the UK and really took note of all those transatlantic
differences. (I was actually scheduled to go there anyway, but having
just been cast, this gave me a terrific opportunity.) I spoke to old
friends about their views of the US, and thought back to my own images
(garnished mostly from movies) before I moved here.
I think it’s key in looking at the characters of Sam and Guy to
understand them as products of (often) radically different cultures.
Nowadays there are many people in the world who really shatter old
stereotypes, but Churchill has given us a confident, often brash
persona in Sam and a polite and sometimes tweedy man in Guy. As much
as we need to experiment with playing against these stereotypes, we
can’t ignore what Churchill has put on the page, and as John Vreeke
pointed out in rehearsal the other day, we in fact would do well to
embrace and humanize them.
What have rehearsals been like in these first few weeks? What’s the team like to work with?
I scribbled three things down on my script before we began, almost
like a shopping list; Instinct. Collaboration. Googling. These were
the three things I felt we needed more than anything else, and whilst
Michael and Fiona helped us enormously with the third, it’s been
mainly down to John Vreeke, Adam Segaller and myself to explore the
first two (in regards to rehearsing the play).
Despite the huge list of political and historical references, this is
a piece about a relationship, and as such requires a lot of ‘googling’
our own emotional memories, if that makes any sense. We talked about
our own experiences in relationships, the games that can be played by
either ‘side’, the highs and lows a partnership can go through. All of
this is evident in the text. A two-hander can be tricky if the actors
aren’t on the same wavelength so I’m fortunate to be working with
Adam. And John Vreeke is the type of director any actor wants to work
with; when he gives notes they are specific ‘down to the comma’ –
essential in a piece like this.
Any other thoughts?
I would encourage anyone with an interest in the politics of
relationships, or the decisions being made a few blocks from the H
Street Playhouse, to come and see this piece. It’s a short but
incredibly rich text and I thank Forum for giving me the opportunity
to be a part of something this unique….