An actor's life: "stepping very gingerly back into the footlights"
BY Nicholas Pound
Nicholas Pound is a professional actor/singer who has performed in theatre for over 35 years. He has played leading roles in Les Miserables, The Rocky Horror Show, Chess, Evita, Notre Dame de Paris and Man of La Mancha.
He has had a long association with the role of Old Deuteronomy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. He moved to Old Town in Eastbourne 5 years ago, having lived in Spain for 9 years where he was the founder of vocal harmony group Tres Divos and hosted his own weekly radio show The Sound of Musicals on Talk Radio Europe.
Nicholas shares his thoughts....
"For the last month my Facebook stream has been filled with joyous announcements from various theatre friends about their forthcomng productions. Theatres are slowly opening again post lockdown. Huzzah! West End shows are re-opening, national tours are restarting and even some brand new musicals are springing into life. Live face-to-face (albeit masked- faced) auditions are happening again too. It’s great news all round, but we’re all stepping very gingerly back into the footlights.
"Many theatres have had to adapt their public spaces, retrain their staff and to begin with, some shows will run without an interval. Make sure you’ve had a good comfort break before crossing that theatre threshold! All being well, and with no unwelcome increase in Covid numbers, from 21st June audiences can start being socially close again.
"Actors will be itching to get back to doing what they love, and by all accounts that first time back in the rehearsal room or on stage is going to be emotional. So, how have we all managed for the last year? BBC’s Staged, starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant playing heightened versions of themselves in 15 minute episodic Zoom conversations (or more often, rants), beautifully demonstrated the angst, frustration and boredom of 2 actors struggling to define themselves as actors during lockdown when they weren’t able to, well…act.
"Most artists need an outlet for their creative juices, even when they’re not employed in their chosen field. Delivering for Hermes or stacking shelves at Tesco may have kept the wolf from the door financially, but what have people done to keep the black dog of depression from the door mentally and artistically? Theatre folk are very adaptable and even though lots may be technophobes (I’m putting my hand up there) we’ve had to learn to get to grips with iPhone self-tape auditions and rehearsed play readings over Zoom – a distinct advantage though to be able to phone in your performance from the comfort of your own Eastbourne living room.
"During this pandemic year, many disparate groups of actors and musicians have grasped the opportunity to reinvent themselves and, through the magic of the internet (and some very talented video editors), have created poignant, moving and funny distanced ensemble performances. Check out the YouTube videos of former Cats cast and band members from around the world coming together online to film ‘Cats in Quarantine’ ((https://youtu.be/-Cxwl84Ep5c) and the fabulous Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Audra Macdonald remotely performing Stephen Sondheim’s Ladies Who Lunch (https://youtu.be/-mBA9tNdolg).
"There’s been an amazing choice of live streamed performances and other theatrical treats to watch over the last year, some free and some pay-per-view including Leicester Curve’s in-house production of Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard and Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads series which included new and reworked monologues. Although these productions have been a welcome and much-needed reconnection to theatreland while we’ve all been stuck indoors, nothing can replace the thrill of sitting in a real theatre watching a live performance. As the country stretches its arms ready to embrace a new normal, here’s hoping we can all look forward to a Spring (re-)Awakening."