New Voice Project director Lorenzo Conti takes a pew with celebrated York actor Keir Brown.
Is theatre indispensable to life?
Yes. Theatre is a great way of exploring issues, whether they are current political issues or issues of emotion. It’s a way for people to see things they may feel are personal to them, but are actually poignant for all of society. That’s why Shakespeare is still so popular: in his plays there are relationships between charaters, and at the heart of them there’s human nature. These are things we all feel and make us human. Theatre can get some insight into why we do what we do.
What’s the key to turn theatre into a true reflection of life?
The key is the script. It has to be written believably, with great dialogue.
So it’s not really the ability of the actors…
No, a great actor can bring out more from the story than an ordinary actor. If the actor is saying words that don’t quite work, it’s a shocking play.
Imagine you’re part of the audience. Would you prefer to see an immediate, entertaining and direct play, or one that lingers and makes you think..
Fundamentally I want to be entertained and lost in a world of fantasy. But I think that the best plays do both: they hit on things that stick with you, but make you feel lost in a fantasy
Do you work more on classical plays or original ones?
Recently, I’ve been more involved in original writing.
Which kind do you enjoy most?
I have to say that I really love Shakespeare, just because of the language and the emotions.
Which one does the public seem to enjoy most?
I think they would probably enjoy modern writing better, because It’s a lot easier to access.
Is it a job that demands more of a physical effort or a mental effort ? Why?
Initially more mental, because a lot of it is about exploring the character, learning and remembering the lines, but the way they go in is through the physical movement on the stage, so it is actually a mixture of both.
Do you feel under pressure when you’re on stage?
Yes, because if you mess up you’re not just going to affect yourself, you’re going affect the actors around you and how the all play turns out. But you have to use that pressure and allow that excitement of anxiety to give you the energy to perform, and you have to accept that you will forget a line, but, because you rehearsed with this group of people, you know each other’s line. So, if some of you misses a line with crucial information, you have to adapt what they we’re going to say, to include that line. That’s the beauty of performing as a cast.
So sometimes you have to improvise…
Yeah, almost every performance
How often do you go to the cinema? How do you feel?
I probably go once every two months, but I’d love to go more frequently. I love it, it really inspires me to be an actor.
How often do you go to the theatre?
About once every four months. Hopefully, now that my kids see getting a little bit older, I can get to more productions.
Is there a modern topic that you think could be great for theatre?
I think theatre should try to understand what happened with Brexit and people’s engagement or disengagement with politics, particularly British politics.
Is York stimulating for your job?
Yes. York is quite artistic and creative. I like it because it’s not too big, and it’s historic. History is very inspiring for me
What is your ambition?
My ambition is to be able to earn a living by acting: if I can do that, I’ll be happy.