Monday, 16 July 2018

A Dramaturgy for Life: Tim Hardy @ Edfrige 2018

A SUBSTITUTE FOR LIFEWritten by Simon Brett
Directed by Alison Skilbeck
Starring Tim Hardy

August 1 – 27
12.35 (50 mins)
Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a mighty bloodless substitute for real life.Robert Louis Stevenson
Never have Robert Louis Stevenson’s words rung more true as they have for Francis Kenworthy. Born to affluence in the middle of the nineteenth century, Francis has always used his love of books as a means of insulating himself from real life. 

But literature offers no protection when a family accident forces him to confront the savage and visceral reality that life can bring.  The seeds of tragedy have been sown long ago in Kenworthy’s brutal Victorian upbringing, but can he escape the violent outcome that seems inevitable?
What was the inspiration for this performance?I was sent the play by Simon Brett. The motivation of the piece is an exploration of the profound effect our childhood can have on who we turn out to be, but in this instance with an extremely unusual and tragic outcome.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Yes, without doubt. Particularly because audience and actor are together in the same space, and often get the opportunity to exchange the views the pay has brought about. Even if this is not the case, all an act of theatre needs is 'two boards and a passion'. 

Therefore a piece of work can be mounted very quickly in response to a particular event, whereas film and telly take much longer to assemble. One example Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' was put on within a very short space of time in response to the Communist witch-hunt that was escalating, and played a significant part in the dismantling of 'The House of Unamerican Activities' committee leading the persecution.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I have been an actor - leaving RADA in 1963 - all my working life.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

I relied entirely on where the text took me, and where my director guided me. I try to enact each moment of the story truthfully, and let the audience do their job; which is to come to their individual conclusions as to the nature of the man I am representing and the meaning of our story.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This character is unlike anything I have ever played before.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?

An absorbing story of a man who- like us all - had goodness in him, great humour, but in his case also something dark and in a way beyond his own control. I hope the audience will walk away having been in every sense entertained.

A Substitute For Life is the story of a damaged man who has found comfort in a life of solitude and certainty.  When his world is invaded, everything comes tumbling down. 

Exploring the themes of how childhood trauma reverberates into adulthood and how emotional suppression will eventually find its outlet, it is a baleful, sometimes darkly humourous and quietly told tale of what can happen when the unexpected arrives and self-protection strategies fail spectacularly.

Tim Hardy, whose performance in Nic Young’s Trials of Galileo received 5 star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015, plays Francis Kenworthy in Simon Brett’s riveting one-man play, directed by Alison Skilbeck.

Tim Hardy’s
 long and varied acting career includes seasons at the RSC, including Peter Brook's Marat/Sade in London and New York, Simon Gray's Melon at the Haymarket Theatre, and Peter Hall's Lysistrata in the West End and Athens, as well as many tours of the US in Shakespeare with Actors From The London Stage.  Hardy’s two one-man shows, The Trials of Galileo by Nic Young, and At the Mountains of Madness by H.P Lovecraft, both for Icarus Theatre Company, tour extensively throughout the UK, Eire, and America. He also sang the lead bass roles in small-scale opera for Music Theatre London throughout the ‘90s. At the RADA Festival last year he played Andrew Borden in Lizzie’s Play, and sang the role of Robert Browning for the Marylebone Festival last July. His TV work includes Jesus in The Son of Man for American television, Galileo in Days that Shook The WorldEastendersMidsomer Murders, and Casualty 1909. Films include Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Tim trained at RADA, where he has been an Associate Teacher for 20 years, directing Shakespeare and serving on the Admissions Panel

After Oxford University, where he was President of the O.U.D.S. and played Edgar (‘dignified’ – Oxford Mail) and Leontes (‘callow and splenetic’ – Oxford Mail), Simon Brett’s first job was as Father Christmas in a department store. He then spent ten years as a radio producer (producing, amongst other things, Just A Minute, I’m Sorry, I Haven’t A Clue, Lord Peter Wimsey and the first episode of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). After two years as a television producer, he became a full-time writer. He has published over a hundred books, many of them crime novels, including the Charles Paris, Mrs Pargeter, Fethering and Blotto & Twinks series. His stand-alone thriller, A Shock to the System, was made into a feature film, starring Michael Caine. Simon’s writing for radio and television includes After HenryNo Commitments and Smelling of Roses. Bill Nighy plays Charles Paris in the Radio 4 adaptations of his books. In 2014 Simon was presented with the Crime Writers’ Association’s top award, the Diamond Dagger, and he was made an O.B.E. in the 2016 New Year’s Honours ‘for services to literature’.

Alison Skilbeck acted with Simon Brett at Oxford University and during that time they performed together at The Oxford Revue at The Edinburgh Fringe.  This year she returns to Edinburgh following her acclaimed productions of Mrs Roosevelt Flies to London at Assembly in 2016 and The Power Behind The Crone Assembly 2017, both as a director of A Substitute for Life, and as a performer with her critically acclaimed solo show Are There More of You?, also at Assembly.  Her enormously varied stage career has taken her to the West End and all over the UK, and on tour to the USA and Europe: early on she created roles in six Ayckbourn premieres at Scarborough. television work includes Sherlock Homes, The Beiderbecke Affair, Miss Marple, Head Over Heels, Doctor Who, Soldier Soldier, Midsomer Murders and Call The Midwife. Her many radio roles include Polly Perks in The Archers, until the character was killed off! Two recent projects have been Wimpole Street, the award winning web series, and the pod cast sitcom series Wooden Overcoats.  

Alison has directed extensively throughout her career, notably Shakespeare at RADA, where she has been an Associate Teacher for over 20 years. She last directed Tim Hardy in Days of Cavafy by Gerald Killingworth at the King's Head

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