Bean-bag jugglers head for Canterbury

THE DIARY

Share
Related Topics
J

ust back from a weekend relaxing in Malta and trying to recoup my energies without succumbing to an inevitable cold. It's hard to come down after the opening of a play. (I've been directing Four Nights in Knaresborough at the Tricycle Theatre in London.) There has been so much adrenalin pumping through my body over the past few weeks and now it's all over - the director is no longer required.

The play is inspired by the murder of Thomas a Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1170 and revolves around four knights hiding out in a castle after the body is found - medieval England with a Tarantinoesque twist.

Within minutes the actors are cursing away. We didn't know whether people would accept the mix of a period setting with modern language, but it seems to work. It makes the play more accessible having no yeahs or nays.

The action takes place over a whole year and covers day-to-day problems like queuing for the bath. When they run out of money the knights decide to open the castle to the public as a stately home in an early example of aristocratic entrepreneurial spirit.

n

Despite it's modern elements, the play has plenty of 12th-century influence, too. The first day of rehearsals was spent with a fight arranger talking about weapons and fighting. The four knights (onny Lee Miller, ames Purefoy, Martin Marquez and Chris Fulford - Mali Harries is the only woman in the play) picked out their swords and tried exercises with the weapons. A little bit daunting as one imagines a possible coup against the director could be quite bloody. After lunch a medievalist and Becket scholar, Ann Duggan, talked to us about the period. It's fascinating to listen to an expert who can articulate her subject so clearly. It was difficult for Paul Corcoran, the writer, to sit and listen to an expert picking through his ideas, but fortunately she agreed with most of his research.

n

Rehearsing at the Tricycle is very nice; there is a very good community theatre atmosphere. Our work is very concentrated and all the actors have to be there all the time. To avoid numb bums we get up and throw bean bags to each other, the idea being that we keep three bean bags going without dropping them - team juggling. Chris has brought his weights in, so there is much pumping of iron in the corner. They're a fit lot. onny sometimes runs to rehearsal and back again. ames indulges in more discreet pumping! Going out at night is unusual when one is directing, but I did manage to attend a Glasgow University fund-raising dinner at Lord Irvine's famous apartment at the House Lords - and got to see the infamous wallpaper.

n

The bean-bagging record was broken on the day of the company outing to Canterbury Cathedral. It now stands at five minutes, four seconds - a world record as far as we're concerned.

We had a very good guide at the cathedral who took us on a tour to where the archbishop was martyred. At one stage the cathedral suddenly filled with music as they rehearsed for an evening concert - very spooky and impressive. So we retired to the Thomas a Becket pub for a spot of Dutch courage.

n

The preview stage is always strange. When it comes to sharing the play with the audience one starts to have doubts. The actors feel it, too. Until this point they have only been performing to one person and suddenly they're confronted with a full house. You prepare as much as you can and try to keep the actors calm. After that you feel you are owed a party. We started at the Tricycle and went on to the Groucho and Soho House, but I can't say I remember much about it. You just keep feeling, I've done it, I've done it.

n

As I'm no longer essential at the Tricycle, I've been able to do something different this week. I've been doing the rounds of the universities. First Glasgow, where I'm rector, for a dinner and then Durham to speak to the Union. Not a debate, just me talking to them about being a cult figure, actor and director. I'm not one of those directors who watches his play every night; nor am I the type who never goes. I like to get back every now and then. We've bonded well as a company - the actors even brought their partners and children to see the traditional Tricycle Theatre puppet show - so it's hard to let go. After all, that's what Four Nights is all about: loyalty, love and some good old-fashioned male bonding.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste