RSC Open Stages: Meet the cast – Leonie

Ahead of our production of The Herbal Bed, we’ve asked our cast and crew to tell everyone a bit about themselves; you can read the first blog here. Next up under the spotlight: Leonie.

The Herbal Bed cast picture

Leonie Thompson as Susanna Hall

Your name: Leonie Thompson

You are playing: Susanna Hall (née Shakespeare)

Sum up your character in a tweet

A strong woman: mother, daughter, wife & lover. She is intelligent & manipulative; passionate & loving; shrewd & determined.

How similar are you to your character?

Very similar in some ways but hugely different in others.

What’s been the biggest challenge about taking on this role?

Learning my lines.

What do you enjoy about acting?

The escapism from everyday life and the challenge of becoming another character. I also really enjoy the teamwork involved in putting on a production, working with some great people and knowing that I am continually learning and, hopefully, improving.

What’s your favourite part that you’ve ever played?

Well, this is only my third part since acting at school (a long time ago!) but I did enjoy playing the part of Angela in Abigail’s Party – that was great fun!

What’s your dream role?

Any part acting opposite George Clooney!

How have you found being part of the Open Stages project?

It has been an amazing experience! The weekend of workshops in September was an incredible learning experience and it was a privilege to be directed by James Farrell from the RSC in a recent rehearsal…particularly as he was so constructive and positive.

Why should people come and see The Herbal Bed?

I think that this production is totally unique. Colette has shared the knowledge she has gained from the Open Stages project in her direction of this play and the cast have all worked exceptionally hard to ensure that we will all give our very best performances. Acting outside and in St Lawrence Church will add other challenges and very interesting dimensions to the play and the involvement of the community contributes to the innovative nature of this production. I think that people will really enjoy the whole experience!

You can see Leonie – and the rest of the cast – in  The Herbal Bed from 21-25 April in the grounds of St Lawrence Church, Abbots Langley (covered seating provided), as well as inside the church.

To book online, go to www.abbotslangleyplayers.ticketsource.co.uk or call the Box Office on 0844 804 5354.

In addition, on Saturday 25 April from 2pm to 4pm, ALP are holding a “community showcase” for local groups and societies to present themselves to our community – please come along and see what our village has to offer. If you’d like to take part in the community showcase, email abbotsplayers@gmail.com.

Advertisements

RSC Open Stages: Meet the cast – Sarah

We’ve asked our cast and crew to tell everyone a bit about themselves, and we’ll be posting the results up here over the next couple of weeks. First up: Sarah.

Your name: Sarah Cunnane

You are playing: Hester Fletcher (I had to look up the surname…not a great start!)

Sum up your character in a tweet

She’s a maid and is simple, but not stupid. She’s passionate and fiercely loyal to those she loves. Finds it difficult to hide her emotions.

How similar are you to your character?

I’d like to think that I’m a bit more ambitious than Hester. She’s no idiot, but the only real ambition you sense from her is in her choice of dream partner – and, frankly, I think she could do better there, too (sorry, not sorry, Rafe). Similarities-wise: despite maintaining that I have an excellent poker face, I have been told repeatedly and often that I am not very good at not letting on how I feel about something. Particularly in meetings. Especially if I think it’s stupid. Or a waste of time. Or I’m hungry. Or tired. So…most of the time.

What’s been the biggest challenge about taking on this role?

I played the same part when we did The Herbal Bed first time around, so going from knowing the part inside out back to square one was a real adjustment. But I’ve really enjoyed playing Hester again, and the fact that most of the rest of the cast is different means that it’s been a completely new experience and so, hopefully, not just exactly the same performance as before.

What do you enjoy about acting?

You get to do things and say things that you’d never dream of in your everyday life. You get to travel back in time, explore different points of view and mindsets, let go of yourself for a while and become somebody else entirely. It’s adult dress-up, is basically what I’m saying. And that’s brilliant.

What’s your favourite part that you’ve ever played?

Eliza in Pygmalion. It was wonderful to play a woman who knows what she wants and goes out and gets it – and the transformation from the beginning of the play to the end is a huge amount of fun to portray.

What’s your dream role?

Iago in Othello. I’ll take a scheming villain over a conflicted hero any day of the week…

How have you found being part of the Open Stages project?

I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve been out and about to see quite a few of them – they’ve all been really entertaining and set the bar scarily high for our own production, curse them. The workshops have been terrific; I’ve learned some new skills and met some great people.

Why should people come and see The Herbal Bed?

It’s a fascinating look at the choices people make and what individuals are willing to put on the line for the sake of love – and it’s all based on a true story. ALP members and groups from elsewhere in the village have worked really hard to put on a fantastic show, and I think their work deserves to be rewarded by being seen by as many people as possible.

You can see Sarah – and the rest of the cast – in  The Herbal Bed from 21-25 April in the grounds of St Lawrence Church, Abbots Langley (covered seating provided), as well as inside the church.

To book online, go to www.abbotslangleyplayers.ticketsource.co.uk or call the Box Office on 0844 804 5354.

In addition, on Saturday 25 April from 2pm to 4pm, ALP are holding a “community showcase” for local groups and societies to present themselves to our community – please come along and see what our village has to offer. If you’d like to take part in the community showcase, email abbotsplayers@gmail.com.

RSC Open Stages: A right Royal (Shakespeare Company) visit

Being part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project has given us some fantastic opportunities. We’ve had access to workshops, training, expertise, as well as a unique chance to network with other groups in the London area and have a look at what they get up to – and how they do it.

One of the most exciting parts of being part of this celebration of amateur theatre has been the chance to work with professional practitioners as part of bringing our production of The Herbal Bed to life. And we have been lucky enough to have a visit from RSC theatre practitioner – and professional director – James Farrell, who came along to rehearsal to see what we were up to.

Royal Shakespeare Company director in Abbots Langley

ALP director Colette Holmes and RSC theatre practitioner James Farrell lead rehearsal

He worked with us on the first half of the play, watching our performances and suggesting new ways for us to think about the scene – whether that was a particular character’s motivation or a way of moving or interacting differently.

James also worked with us on voice projection, leading an exercise designed to show how we could amplify our voices in an outside setting without losing meaning or emotion.

It was all fantastically valuable and, in some cases, even made us completely rethink our approach to scenes.

For our part, we were able to treat James to some village entertainment – albeit by accident – when we arrived at our usual post-rehearsal watering hole to find a karaoke night in full swing.

Colette, our director, said she was “incredibly proud” of what ALP had demonstrated for James on his visit. “We were really excited to be chosen to take part in this prestigious project, and having a professional coming along to work with us and improve what’s already shaping up to be a brilliant production has been great,” she added.

Leonie, who plays the lead role of Susanna Hall in the play, also found James’ visit incredibly helpful: “Despite being exhausted, I couldn’t sleep after rehearsal with all the new ideas and suggestions buzzing round my head. I was a little nervous at the thought of a visitor from RSC but, rather than nerve wracking, I thought it was an incredible learning experience, from which we have all benefitted.”

The Herbal Bed will be staged from 21-25 April in the grounds of St Lawrence Church, Abbots Langley (covered seating provided), as well as inside the church.

To book online, go to www.abbotslangleyplayers.ticketsource.co.uk or call the Box Office on 0844 804 5354.

On Saturday 25 April from 2pm to 4pm, ALP are holding a “community showcase” for local groups and societies to present themselves to our community – please come along and see what is going on. If you’d like to take part in the community showcase, email abbotsplayers@gmail.com.

RSC Open Stages: Thyme for an update

The Herbal Bed RSC Open Stages rehearsal

Director Colette Holmes leads rehearsal

We’ve been rehearsing for a couple of months now, and we’re pleased to say that things are going very well indeed. In the first performance of the play at Stratford, Joseph Fiennes and David Tennant starred and although that will be a very hard act to follow, we’re confident ALP can better their efforts! The play is directed by Colette Holmes, fresh from her triumph with Pygmalion last year.

Tickets are available at www.abbotslangleyplayers.ticketsource.co.uk or by phoning 0844 804 5354

Look out for posters round the village.

It’s a community event…

The play is being presented in St Lawrence churchyard, in Abbots Langley High Street, from 21 to 25 April, as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages – the UK’s biggest amateur theatre project. Our proposal to the RSC included a commitment to involve the local community. Local musicians will provide the music and the planting of a herb garden is being organised by AIMS, volunteers who keep the village in bloom throughout the year.

Other local groups are taking part, particularly in the Community Showcase which will take place in St Lawrence churchyard from 2pm until 4pm before the final performance of the play at 5.30pm on 25 April. This is an opportunity for local groups to advertise themselves and is free to all. Come and see what some of our local groups get up to.

Get involved…

We would love more groups and individuals to take part in the production. There are opportunities to help out backstage, or even on stage. We will also need a lot of help with refreshments each evening – you might even get the chance to dress up.

If you have an idea for how your group could, or might like to, contribute, please get in touch at abbotsplayers@gmail.com.

THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS

We’re very grateful to Abbots Langley Parish Council, Three Rivers District Council and RES for sponsoring our efforts to put on this production.

RSC Open Stages: Meet the community – Abbots Langley Gilbert and Sullivan Society

As part of our Royal Shakespeare Company Open Stages application, we pledged to work with as many local groups as we could; making our production something that the whole village could contribute to. Over the next few months, we hope to highlight some of the societies we’re working with, and here’s the first such blog – kindly contributed by Sue O’Neill of the Abbots Langley Gilbert and Sullivan Society. 

We are pleased to be invited to take part in the Open Stages project and congratulate The Players on achieving the project amongst stiff competition, nationwide!

We are looking forward to working with other local groups in Abbots Langley, hoping to provide support with acting, singing and “backstage” in what sounds to be an exciting concept!

As a society, the Abbots Langley Gilbert and Sullivan Society has performed G&S operas annually since its foundation in September 1950. We have remained firmly based in the village of Abbots Langley, although now some of our members come from a much wider area. Gone are the days when, as quoted after the very first production, “You could meet the whole cast by walking up and down Abbots Langley High Street”.

The society is over 50 years old, and we are seeing second- and third-generation members of the performing families taking their places, and there have been many relationships, marriages and families formed through the society. These close ties have always made our group afun and friendly experience, and new members are always welcome.

As well as our main annual production, we always try to perform each year in our home village with a concert or small production in the Henderson Hall. Our principal venue for the last 40 years has been the Palace Theatre Watford and this month is no exception.Featured image

We will be performing The Pirates of Penzance between 21 and 24 January. With Mike Monk as our Director and Susana Tierney as MD, we are looking forward to “fun and frivolity” in true G&S style. With a great cast of ALGSS regulars and some new faces, it proves to be a fantastic show.

Tickets are on sale now at www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk.

Our Summer production this year will be Seussical the Musical from 10 to 14 June. We are to hold auditions for the cast in February, including a group of children, which is always exciting as many come from the local community.

So this is a busy, yet exciting, year and look forward to these worthy projects as we help to keep theatre alive in our local community.

The Herbal Bed: Congrats to our new cast

After a few rounds of auditions, we are delighted to be able to confirm our cast for the April production of The Herbal Bed by Peter Whelan, which ALP will be performing as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project:

John Hall: Jérôme Le Forestier
Susanna Hall: Leonie Thompson
Hester Fletcher: Sarah Cunnane
Rafe Smith: David Powell
Jack Lane: Ryan Caisley
Henry Parry, Bishop of Worcester: Roger Gotts
Barnabus Goche: Brian Hibberd
Elizabeth Hall: Freya Thompson and Imogen Melling

More details on backstage crew and the progress of the project will be forthcoming over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, congratulations to everybody who auditioned; our director, Colette, said the standard was incredibly high.

Pygmalion: Cast and box office details

Our production of Pygmalion is now up and running. The full cast is available over on our What’s On section, but here are the details of the principal characters:

Clara Eynsford Hill – Sarah Melling
Mrs Eynsford Hill – Gloria Keaveny
Freddy Eynsford Hill – Matt Smith
Eliza Doolittle – Sarah Cunnane
Colonel Pickering – Brian Hibberd
Henry Higgins – David Powell
Mrs Pearce – Sue Baker
Alfred Doolittle – Graham Ford
Mrs Higgins – Annette Toms

We will be presenting Pygmalion between 2 and 5 July in the Henderson Hall, Abbots Langley. Performances begin at 8pm, with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm. Tickets can be reserved by ringing the Box Office on 0844 8045354.

Don’t be a draggletailed guttersnipe, get your tickets now!