Thursday, 18 February 2016

Laughing Dramaturgy: Gabriel Quigley on getting it in the Can.

Gabriel Quigley is starring in the new Scottish comedy play Canned Laughter which will tour Scotland this March / April.

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy / 9-12 March
Theatre Royal, Glasgow / 15-19 March
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen / 24-26 March
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh / 29 March - 2 April

What made you decide that it was an actor’s life for you?
Quite by accident. I wanted to be a journalist. I went to Glasgow University to do English Literature and Philosophy. Theatre Studies became my third subject in first year, as I'd always enjoyed doing plays at school, but it really was an afterthought. Which became the major thought.

The year I was part of at university had very proactive people in writing and directing their own theatre shows and I became involved in all that, and we progressed from student productions to professional. 

So it became a gradual dawning of "this is what I do, I am a jobbing actor." I did have an excellent drama teacher at school who had belief in my abilities, so I think I must have carried that with me as well - giving me the confidence to get up onstage and do it.

What is it about this show that made you want to be part of it?
Always the same - the script, the director and the fellow actors.

Was the process typical of the way that you make a performance?
You make the performance together, the collaboration in the rehearsal room is for me the most satisfying thing about acting. Reying things out, getting surprises and shaping the play with the director and the other actors into a more complete thing. The process is much the same for every show - it's a collaboration.  

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
A great night out! Being moved and entertained at the same time is always what I enjoy most at the theatre.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
I started out in improvisatory theatre, creating characters very remote from me, a lot of accent work. That meant that I felt comfortable in comedy as well as drama. But ultimately you approach both in exactly the same way - commit!

With no formal training, I learned from the other actors and directors I was working with. Which meant a whole lot of traditions, as actors all work or have been trained in different ways. So I would poach what I thought was good and helpful for making a character as real as possible.

However, one advantage of a purely academic background was a particular strength on text, which is very helpful when working on new plays - possibly why I have done a lot of them.

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