10 questions for 10 years – Samuel Barnett

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Even though I demurred from seeing The History Boys on stage, I’ve loved much else of Samuel Barnett’s work in so many ways. London was cruelly cheated of his Viola but it was in some of his earlier plays that he really stood out for me.

“I really enjoyed that kabuki drop at the beginning… and I loved playing Witwoud. It was a joy to play a character who is so much funnier, brighter and wittier than I am. I loved the cast too.

“That remains one of my favourite jobs. The writing, the cast, our amazing director James Grieve, and playing in the old Bush Theatre: it was one of those rare jobs where everything came together so perfectly. I adored working so closely with Kate O’Flynn, who is just phenomenal. Perhaps my favourite bit was the last few lines about the colour of love, and the snow falling. Got me every time.”

Where were you 10 years ago?
I had to look on Spotlight to find out. Unusually for me, I didn’t do any theatre in 2009. I did three TV shows: Desperate Romantics, Beautiful People season 2 and Marple.

Best show you’ve seen in the last 10 years?
Oh lord there are so many to choose from, but I guess the one that stays with me for sheer shock, discomfort and utter brilliance is The Author by Tim Crouch.

What has been your professional highlight of the last 10 years?
Playing Viola on Broadway and receiving a Tony nom for best actor. And playing the lead in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. I’m allowed two, right?

Top flavour of interval ice-cream?
Salted Caramel of course.

What show do you wish theatres would give a rest for a few years?
I couldn’t possibly comment.

Name someone who you think is a really under-appreciated talent (in the world of theatre)?
CASTING DIRECTORS. Brilliant, essential and under appreciated.

Elphaba or Glinda?
I’d like to say Elphaba, but anyone who knows me would probably say Glinda. Sigh.

What is one thing that you think would help theatre survive and/or thrive the next ten years?

A government that doesn’t think that theatre is a luxury but rather sees it as a necessary part of society. Which it is. And subsidises it so.

Which is your favourite theatre?

I love small spaces: the Bush, the Finborough, the Dorfman.

Can you say anything about what’s to come for you, (in the next ten years or otherwise)?

A TV show for BBC1 later this year. And in the next 10 years? Who the hell knows? I know that I’ve always loved new writing in theatre. And I’m most attracted to plays that are brimming with heart.

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on RssIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."

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