RSC veteran Simon Russell Beale took a few minutes out of his busy schedule, working on a new production of the Bard’s ‘The Tempest’, to talk to our very own Shakespeare enthusiast Maddie Andrews.
So you’re returning to the RSC after 23 years of being away, how is it coming back to everything?
It doesn’t feel that much different actually, the town feels the same. The company’s buildings are completely – I don’t know where I am – because the whole inside of the big building, I have no idea. And this building has all changed. So that’s all different. But the Ethos is the same, it was a very happy time so I associate it with very happy times.
So is it nice, working with Gregory Doran?
What’s he like?
He’s terrific. Well, I found out he’s very famous for this, but his first day’s speech was sort of virtuosic – in terms of the amount of research he does, and the amount of… he’s amazing at dates! I know that sounds like nonsense, but you know, anyone can remember the date when this was published, the date when that was playing. No, he’s structures it and he’s very open to ideas, not set in his ways or anything.
I imagine with The Tempest and all of this new innovation and everything.
Yes, I suppose it’s good. Though – I was implying this in the previous talk – it is quite interesting how little we’ve been looking at that in the last couple of weeks, because it’s just been us talking on the rehearsal floor really.
Do you know when the teching starts?
It starts on October 27th. It’s very interesting because I have no idea what the impact will be. There will be a huge amount of changing one’s ideas I think.
It’s going to be a lot more challenging.
“our job is not just to produce an audiobook, so do what you like with him as far as I can see. He’s strong enough to take it”
I imagine it will be a very different way of rehearsing with all of the things going on.
Yes, I mean hopefully it will be steady with the play itself by the time we get in there, so we can manoeuvre it.
What do you think of all the more modern retellings of Shakespeare, so you have this and then Imogen at The Globe?
I am completely unpuritan about it. I don’t… do what you like with him, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always thought that, I mean if you want to read him he’s there. But frankly, our job is not just to produce an audiobook, so do what you like with him as far as I can see. He’s strong enough to take it.
So you have the most incredible resume, you just do everything, TV, Movie, Theatre…
And music! Apparently, you love music and playing piano.
Yeah, music is my great love. I love the ballet though, I was terrible.
What would you pick? Out of all of them?
If I could do another degree, I would do music.
Ooh, what period?
Don’t know if I have a particular period, I did start as a musician. Training, but I wasn’t in love with it. I came to be in love with it later, actually, much more. But I’ve always been a musician, I’ve always trained, ever since I was a child. So, although oddly enough not choral music. So, I suppose if I did a degree I’d like to specialise in early twentieth century, late nineteenth century. The big stuff.
Thank you, I feel like I am out of time now, I’m getting the signal.
S: you are, but perfectly on time.
Thank you very much for your time.
Image: Royal Shakespeare Company