Posts Tagged ‘Alan Bennett’

“Pamela ‘R, Pamela ‘R”, a little boy said.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Alison Steadman was describing a meeting she had had with a couple and their small son, when recognition of her role in “Gavin and Stacey” the BBC TV comedy was thus exclaimed. “ I was well chuffed”.

She was a guest of the RSC Friends in Newcastle Upon Tyne while appearing in Alan Bennett’s play ‘Enjoy’ at the Theatre Royal. Yvonne Richardson the Friends Organiser in Newcastle was keen to give the Friends the chance to get to know this fine actor and had arranged a talk at short notice. The event took place in part of the fourth floor reception area of the theatre near the site of the grand piano which will be well known to many RSC actors. There surrounded, by the Friends of the RSC, Alison and Yvonne sat while more than 40 RSC Friends listened and gave comment.

Alison illustrated descriptions of her life as an actor on stage, screen, and TV with vivid descriptions of the roles she had played. Favourites such as roles in “Fat Friends“,” Gavin and Stacey” and of course “Abigail’s Party” and others such as Mrs Bennett in “Pride and Prejudice”. She was excellent in giving great and thoughtful insight into how she researched and built a character via reference to people she had met, or relatives and sometimes friends. Reference was also made to directing on screen and stage. The building of a character via speech, costume and physical mannerisms was highly informative.

For example illustrating the illness of the character she was playing, she mentioned how buttoning a cardigan in regard to the character made the point regarding lack of awareness. A very small item and gesture, but significant to the part. Or the fact that local accents change with time and therefore generations and individuals of differing ages will have different accents though born in the same area.

Questions were asked by the gathered Friends who were interested in how she learnt her lines. To this she said that she had been taught to learn the lines in small chunks and signpost her lines via the entrances or lines of other players. A general feeling of interest was apparent and thus the hour long talk was deemed a great success. Everyone was impressed by Alison, who displayed a very knowledgeable, clever and sensitive observation of people and their ability, which she imparts to any performance in which she is involved.

This was the general feedback from those present who marvelled at her ability to give such spontaneous reactions and characterization during the discussion.

By Violet Rook, Friends of the RSC, Newcastle.

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