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 Alexandra Guelff who plays George.
1) Do you have any backstage rituals or superstitions?
Ha! No! I’m quiet mischievous in how unsuperstitious I am – it’s quite tempting to run around the wings whistling or saying ‘Macbeth’, but I’ve just about managed to control those impulses…
2) How do you warm up before a show?
I’m a very active person so I love to have a good stretch, but the main thing for me on this job is a proper vocal warm up. In the play, I sing the boy choristers’ auditions, and not being an eleven year old boy, I have to dust off my soprano range before each show or I’m in trouble!!
3) Do you have any funny stories or anecdotes from behind the scenes of The Habit of Art?
Is it boring to say that everyone is just really chilled out and nice? We’ve got a big spectrum of age and experience in our cast and being one of the least experienced, I’m just keeping my wits about me and learning from the others.
4) How do you make yourself feel at home in a theatre for the week?
I think the theatres do a great job of doing that for us. This is my first tour and I’ve been struck by how welcoming and friendly each venue’s team has been. We’re a small company, so it means we have plenty of space in the dressing rooms too, which is lovely because it means you’re not getting ready in chaos and clutter. I usually share a room with Veronica Roberts, who plays Kay, and she’s a wonderfully warm and calming influence.
5) What is your favourite theatre to work in or are you most excited to visit?
I’m one of those Londoners who hasn’t seen too much of the rest of England, so the overall experience of visiting so many different cities is the best thing for me. Having never toured before, this is the first time I’ve performed the same play on lots of different stages – and sometimes the differences are quite major. Some stages are flat, some are raked (which means the stage is on a slope); some stages are quite narrow and deep, some are very wide and shallow. Sometimes the audience is right up next to you and all in one tier, and sometimes they feel miles away and the balconies go right up to the ceiling. Touring is a brilliant way for a young actor to learn how to navigate those different dynamics.
Catch us on tour this Autumn – find out more.