Our latest production of Alan Bennett’s ‘The Habit of Art’ is a play within a play. We watch a cast, writer and stage management team rehearsing a production of, ‘Caliban’s Day’, a new play exploring W.H Auden and Benjamin Britten. We wanted to give you a sneak peek at our own brilliant cast as they prepare for a night at York Theatre Royal (photos by Sam Taylor) and a few facts about how they prepare for the show…
We spoke to John Wark who plays Donald.
1) Do you have any backstage rituals or superstitions?
I have the regular ones like don’t mention the Scottish play and absolutely no whistling backstage! I do have a little rock that always travels with me and sits on my dressing room table wherever I go. It was part of the set from a play I did when I was 12 called ‘The Winter Guest’. We’d have to cancel the performance if I forgot it!
2) How do you warm up before a show?
I have quite a detailed warmup that I have been doing for years. All the best bits I learned at drama school! I do like to have a sing as I find it’s the quickest way to assess what state your voice is in that day. I have about four songs that I rotate throughout the week. By the end of the run I do feel sorry for the rest of the cast as they will have heard me singing ‘Giants in the Sky’ for the 50th time!
3) Do you have any funny stories or anecdotes from behind the scenes of The Habit of Art?
It’s a lovely company and we are all getting on so well so there are always lots of giggles back stage. Nothing specific yet as we are all constantly on stage so there isn’t a lot of backstage time. It’s still early in the run though.
4) How do you make yourself feel at home in a theatre for the week?
I think when you are touring with a show you enjoy and a group of people who you genuinely are having a lovely time with then it’s a lot easier to move from venue to venue. This sounds a little twee but you kind of travel with this temporary home. Also finding good food and a good pub near the theatre always helps.
5) What is your favourite theatre to work in or are you most excited to visit?
I’m really looking forward to Richmond as I’ve been waiting to play it for about 15 years. During some pretty lean years after graduating drama school I worked in Richmond in a shop and used to sit on a bench on the green with my lunch and look at the theatre, thinking how far away I was from what I wanted to be doing. And now in a couple of weeks I can stand in the theatre and look back at that bench.
Catch us on tour this Autumn – find out more.