Actor Hemi Yeroham spoke to Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon about starring in Iris Theatre’s puppet-filled premiere of Arabian Nights at Hoxton Hall, which finishes its acclaimed season this weekend.
What can audiences expect from this production of Arabian Nights?
Well, our production is filled to the brim with storytelling techniques such as puppetry, mask, music and dance. There are tiny puppets that fit into your hand, there are giant puppets that take three people to operate. There is singing in Farsi, Greek, Japanese and Arabic. There is even a sprinkle of Rumi poetry. It’s full of surprises, and when you think you’ve seen it all, there is something new to enchant you.
What was it about Iris Theatre’s vision for the production that appealed?
I was very interested in doing more puppetry work and to learn about mask. You can be an experienced puppeteer but each one is different, and you learn with each production. I also enjoy multi-roling in a production and Arabian Nights definitely is the ultimate piece in which you can do that. There’s something about making quick decisions to create a character that will only be seen for a few minutes on stage. It teaches you to trust your instincts as well as make peace with the possibility of making decisions that don’t necessarily work in the rehearsal room.
Tell us about your character.
My main character in the show is Vizier Khalid – King Shahriyar’s right-hand man. His first loyalty is to the kingdom and he struggles to see the King go so far off the rails. He tries to maintain the status quo as much as he can and not to rock the boat too hard, so when Sharazad begins to tell her stories, he feels this might anger the king even more and have even worse consequences. He also has this dichotomy between his humanity and his responsibility to the king and country, whilst also managing the king’s temper and unpredictability.
How have the shows been going?
We have really been enjoying ourselves. Theatre audiences are always very unpredictable, and there is no way of knowing how they will react. We’ve had small but very engaged audiences and we’ve had full houses that have been very attentive but also very quiet. I love it the most when we have young audiences as they seem to be very honest about how they feel about the show. They also love to get involved when audience participation is required.
Arabian Nights runs from 12 September to 13 October 2018 at Hoxton Hall, 130 Hoxton St, London N1 6SH. Performances are Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets are priced £13-£30. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!