Mark Rylance: ‘What’s wrong with being a theatre actor?’

In Features, Interviews, London theatre, Opinion, Plays by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

On this Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, in amongst an interview with David Cameron and other reports from this year’s Conservative Party conference in Manchester, I was delighted to see Marr, perched in the circle at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre, chatting with actor Mark Rylance.

Theatregoers know, of course, that Rylance has just opened in the West End in Farinelli and the King, written by his wife Claire van Kampen and transferred after a sell-out season earlier this year at the Globe’s indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. But Rylance is also in the news, starring opposite Tom Hanks in Hollywood spy thriller Bridge of Spies, in which he was cast after causing an onscreen stir in Wolf Hall.

I remember first meeting Rylance when he was artistic director of the Globe, practically skipping into a small press briefing with a shy smile and an impish giggle – both still in evidence with Marr. My favourite quotes from this interview are below, but do have a watch. I’d say he did far better than the Prime Minister, but he does have the advantage of a warm and beautiful theatrical setting – rather different to the Tory’s annual conference!

[By the way, the BBC bills this as “Actor Mark Rylance on acting, power and politics”, which is a neat way of incorporating it into a political programme like The Andrew Marr Show– but I think Marr is just clearly a fan and who can blame him!]

Rylance on screen versus stage:

“I tried very hard to get film parts for a long time, I just wasn’t good enough. I think they’ve resisted me as much as I’ve resisted them…
“A few years ago I decided I wasn’t going to try to be a film actor, I was happy being a theatre actor. You know, what’s wrong with being a theatre actor? All theatre actors are told their whole career in this country you’ve got to do television, you’ve got to do film, then you can come back and do theatre.”

Rylance on impoverished actors:

“It is very true that most actors – 80 to 90% of actors – have a very poor level of salary. The salary at the Royal Court is maybe £50 more than it was 20 years ago, not much more. And it’s not a salary you can live on very well in London. Actors are going back to the days of Shakespeare where you’ve got to be a carpenter or something else if you’re gong to be a theatre actor. There are very few who are lucky like me. So there’s no blame or discredit to someone going to Hollywood.”

Rylance on lessons from the Globe:

“The Globe taught me that the theatre is one room. And for me, everything that we do in the theatre is to bring the audience and actors into the feeling that they’re in the same room together. That you are in the room with Brutus and Cassius when they decide to murder Caesar. You’re not watching a debate or a documentary, you are there, in the room with them. You see it, you hear it, hopefully you feel it and you get an experience that hopefully is helpful if you ever find yourself in that room in reality, on either side.”

Farinelli and the King, directed by John Dove, continues at the West End’s Duke of York’s until 5 December 2015.

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Terri Paddock
Terri Paddock runs the Terri Paddock Group, which provides content and social media marketing services for theatre clients across channels including MyTheatreMates.com, StageFaves.com, Stage Talk and TerriPaddock.com. Previously,
Terri Paddock founded WhatsOnStage.com and the WhatsOnStage Awards, running the company and its events from 1996 to 2013. Terri is also the author of two novels, Come Clean and Beware the Dwarfs, and has previously written for the Evening Standard, Independent, The Times and other national publications. She is renowned for her 'legendary' post-show Q&As and also produces the annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and acts as a digital, content strategy and event consultant for theatre, producers and other clients. She tweets about theatre at @TerriPaddock.
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Terri Paddock on FacebookTerri Paddock on InstagramTerri Paddock on LinkedinTerri Paddock on TwitterTerri Paddock on Youtube
Terri Paddock
Terri Paddock runs the Terri Paddock Group, which provides content and social media marketing services for theatre clients across channels including MyTheatreMates.com, StageFaves.com, Stage Talk and TerriPaddock.com. Previously,
Terri Paddock founded WhatsOnStage.com and the WhatsOnStage Awards, running the company and its events from 1996 to 2013. Terri is also the author of two novels, Come Clean and Beware the Dwarfs, and has previously written for the Evening Standard, Independent, The Times and other national publications. She is renowned for her 'legendary' post-show Q&As and also produces the annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and acts as a digital, content strategy and event consultant for theatre, producers and other clients. She tweets about theatre at @TerriPaddock.

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