Masterclasses and theatre


Last week I was the beneficiary of two masterclasses, one in acting and one in PR. At Wyndham’s in the West End, I went to see Pinter’s No Man’s Land and on Saturday I visited the Rose in Kingston.


In No Man’s Land  the opening scene was effectively a masterclass given by two veterans of the British stage, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. The timing, intonations, and movements were all spot on. The humour and the darkness, the trademark uncertainties, were all there, brought faithfully to life. And the two sinister younger men added to the dislocations, the threat and the humour. For a writer, this one anyway, any exposure to Pinter is a learning experience, at the same time daunting and inspiring. When the acting is as good as this, not to mention the direction, it takes the breath away.

The Rose

At the Rose theatre a couple of day’s later, I saw Arthur Miller’s All my sons. A good production, a very different style. Where Pinter conceals, Miller reveals and the guilt that is revealed, and shared, is troubling and thought provoking. This was a strong production of a very different play but the masterclass was really one of PR. The experience started when I went with friends a few weeks ago to see The Good Canary – another strong production with high artistic standards. The evening was a little marred by appalling seats, not normally a problem for this venue but the set blocked much of our view, even when we had managed to move along the row to improve it. I let the theatre know, by email, that we were unhappy with this and they immediately apologised, explained the circumstances, and offered free tickets for a future performance an upcoming show. We settled on seeing All my sons and it was a good decision. A simple act of what might be called customer care and our grumbling has been turned to renewed enthusiasm for the Rose as a venue. This is a lesson that not all providers of goods and services seem to have learnt and it’s good to see that the Rose management are on top of this. Of course it’s helped by a good product – we saw two quality productions in a friendly venue with easy access – but they would get full marks for the response in any event.

Theatre people

These two theatre trips were sandwiched between production company meetings. Again, some contrasts. The first was for Damn Cheek, where our focus is on scripted plays and new writing; the second was with a group focussing on larger scale arts events which might include visual arts, music and devised theatre. What they have in common is a a love for the arts, for theatre in its broadest sense and for creativity. Both groups include people who are both creative and entrepreneurial. At a time when we seem beset with political doom and gloom, both give me hope.


Tony Earnshaw

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