La Voix Conquers Southbank

★★★★★

Written by Daen Palma Huse

Photograph by Daen Palma Huse

Photograph by Daen Palma Huse

If you are looking for an evening of entertainment that will have you shake with laughter and strike you with big vocals, look no further: La Voix’s show is for you. Drag star La Voix is humorous, talented, wildly entertaining and gives us stand-up comedy at this year’s Spiegeltent as part of Southbank’s Underbelly Festival that even had the most reluctant members of the audience lose their stiff upper lip. With a non-stop show she delivers musical numbers with great calibre and presents the best of the grand dames of show-biz including Dame Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland, Tina Turner and Liza Minelli. A little pinch of politics is mixed into the performance with that certain je ne sais quoi that only a drag queen could bring to a stage.

Photograph by Steve Burt

Photograph by Steve Burt

One of the reasons why La Voix captures the attention of the audience for the entire duration of the show is that she takes on songs, both past and present, that resonate through having perfected her adaption of vocal characteristics and body language of the great singers. La Voix is not an impersonator, she does not need a “Cher”-wig to make us feel like Cher just burst on stage, which makes for an accomplished performance. After recent Eurovision acts that had us collectively losing faith in live performances, La Voix gave us reason to believe again. Bravo! 

La Voix can be seen throughout the 2019 tour Live, Loud & Fabulous. For more information visit www.lavoix.co.uk

Rochelle Rose stars in Selina Thompson’s salt. at The Royal Court Theatre

★★★★★

Written by Daen Palma Huse

Rochelle Rose in  salt.  photographed by Johan Persson

Rochelle Rose in salt. photographed by Johan Persson

Whenever I am sitting at the theatre and realise that the cast delivering to a packed auditorium consists of three talented actors, I am astonished. A theatre performance without musical numbers, without an overbearing set, without dance, without supporting acts; this requires the combined talent of very enthusiastic and devoted performers. With salt it is a different story yet: not three, not two, but only one single brave actor carries the play in a performance without break. This one actor is Rochelle Rose, who shows commitment to the story, devotion to the performance and a great tactfulness for timings and transporting the audience through time and emotions.

Rochelle Rose in  salt.  photographed by Johan Persson

Rochelle Rose in salt. photographed by Johan Persson

Rochelle Rose in  salt.  photographed by Johan Persson

Rochelle Rose in salt. photographed by Johan Persson

The play, written by Selina Thompson, centres around the artists’ own journey to retrace the route of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle from Europe to Africa to the Carribean, which she embarked on in 2016 on a cargo ship. Thompson’s body of work concentrates on the politics of marginalisation, and in salt. she starts unpacking concepts centring around colonialism, capitalism and the diaspora. What sounds like blunt criticism at first is in fact a considered comment on society today, which gains momentum through Rose’s performance this year at The Royal Court Theatre after having won various awards in previous performances including The Stage Edinburgh Award, the Total Theatre Award for Experimentation and having been shortlisted for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.

A topic that might make parts of the audience feel uneasy is relevant not only for the UK’s current state of affairs and coming to terms with its past, but carries crucial importance on an international level. The story moves from critique to personal experiences told by the author through the actor who has us hanging on her lips for the entire duration of the play. We are taken through many emotions, connecting to the story and relating to our own lives. It is through the nuances of joy, nostalgia, sorrow, dejection and reflection that we intimately connect to the story. Poetic and honest, Rochelle Rose’s performance in Selina Thompson’s play is one not to miss. Salt. leaves us with a lasting impression.

The applause at the end of the play was strong, although I would have expected the audience to react more enthusiastic. In hindsight I believe the audience remained captured even after the performance had finished, with Rochelle Rose sitting by the exit of the auditorium with a basket of pink chunks of salt for the audience to take away as a reminder; “To take it is a commitment to live, a commitment to the radical space of not moving on, and all that it can open.”

salt. is written by Selina Thompson, performed by Rochelle Rose and directed by Dawn Walton. It runs in the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs Tuesday 14 May – Saturday 1 June 2019. Click here for more information.

Fanny and Stella Strike Again

★★★★

Written by Daen Palma Huse

In a humorous and highly entertaining performance, the comedy Fanny and Stella written by Glen Chandler returns to Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall after sell-out performances in 2015.

Fanny & Stella_Poster image 1.jpg

The story about Fanny and Stella is based around true facts. Ernest Boulton and Frederick Park were more recently titled “The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England” by the Guardian. The cross-dressers were quite openly walking the streets of London and ultimately were charged with “the abominable crime of buggery” in 1870. They became known as He-She Ladies and it came to a very public trial with newspapers raging.

Tobias Charles and Kieran Parrott, as Fanny and Stella, carry the show at Above the Stag Theatre with an effortless quality throughout, including carefully crafted vocals and theatrical performance. The set of the show is simple and traditional, perfect for the play. When walking into the auditorium before the show commences, we are greeted by Mr Grimes in Victorian costume, played by the talented Mark Pearce. He continues to slip in and out of roles as the story of the play unfolds, each one of them played convincingly and with the conviction of a true entertainer.

Overall, the show emulates the mood of the time the play is set in and for the duration of the performance we feel teleported into a Victorian theatre with an enthusiastic public that is lusting after sensational entertainment, an itch that will be scratched. Hats off also to Carole Todd for creating a choreography yet again that elevates the play and connects the music and vocals with fitting movement.

“Fanny and Stella – The Shocking True Story” runs until 2nd of June 2019 at Above the Stag Theatre, 72 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall, London, SE1 7TP

For more information click here.

Tobias Charles and Kieran Parrott, as Fanny and Stella, Above The Stag Theatre, PBGstudios

Tobias Charles and Kieran Parrott, as Fanny and Stella, Above The Stag Theatre, PBGstudios

Tobias Charles and Kieran Parrott, as Fanny and Stella, Above The Stag Theatre, PBGstudios

Tobias Charles and Kieran Parrott, as Fanny and Stella, Above The Stag Theatre, PBGstudios

Mark Pearce, Above The Stag Theatre, PBGstudios

Mark Pearce, Above The Stag Theatre, PBGstudios

Mark Pearce, Above The Stag Theatre, PBGstudios

Mark Pearce, Above The Stag Theatre, PBGstudios

 

 

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Written by Daen Palma Huse

Daniel Goode as Basil Hallward and Jonathan Wrather as Lord Henry Wotton

Daniel Goode as Basil Hallward and Jonathan Wrather as Lord Henry Wotton

One of the most notable pieces of writing by Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray has been adapted many times after its original release in the late 1800s. When the novel appeared, many voices were outraged. The Daily Chronicle reported:

“It is a tale spawned from the leprous literature of the French Décadents – a poisonous book, the atmosphere of which is heavy with the mephitic odours of moral and spiritual putrefaction n– a gloating study of the mental and physical corruption of a fresh, fair and golden youth, which might be fascinating but for its effeminate frivolity, its studied insincerity, its theatrical cynicism, its tawdry mysticism, its flippant philosophisings, and the contaminating trail of garish vulgarity which is over all Mr. Wilde’s elaborate Wardour Street aestheticism and obtrusively cheap scholarship.”

Many of the terms used in this review are coded terms for “homesexuality” – a word that was only about to enter public discourse. Substantial cuts in the story had subsequently been made in many of the publications of the work that was to follow.

Jonathan Wrather as Lord Henry Wotton Gavin Fowler as Dorian Gray

Jonathan Wrather as Lord Henry Wotton Gavin Fowler as Dorian Gray

A new adaptation that is currently being shown at Richmond Theatre raises questions about how to approach a novel that has been reinterpreted many times and how something can be offered to the audience that is entertaining and at the same time offering a subtle contemporaneity and relevance to its viewers.

A passage that had been deleted in previous versions of the published novel included the speech by the painter Basil to Dorian in which he confesses his adoration:

“It is quite true I have worshipped you with far more romance of feeling than a man should ever give to a friend. Somehow, I have never loved a woman.... From the moment I met you, your personality had the most extraordinary influence over me.... I adored you madly, extravagantly, absurdly. I was jealous of everyone to whom you spoke. I wanted to have you all to myself. I was only happy when I was with you."

The new adaption of Dorian Gray on show at Richmond Theatre has deleted parts of this particular passage, too (“I have never loved a woman.”). The adaptation deletes several homoerotic references of the original novel altogether – and unfortunately the slight lack of personal tension between characters results in a disjoint between actor’s performances.

Samuel Townsend as Romeo and Kate Dobson as Sybil

Samuel Townsend as Romeo and Kate Dobson as Sybil

The two most recent notable characterisations of Oscar Wilde’s twisted character on screen are a Dorian Gray created by John Logan and played by Reeve Carney in the visually beautiful series Penny Dreadful (2014-2016) that is already cold and unapproachable by nature of his doomed relationship with his own portrait - and equally, the Dorian Gray directed by Oliver Parker in 2009 displayed a gothic quality transpiring through a seemingly unchanging façade of youth and beauty. In both adaptations, this façade starts to crumble and ultimately draws Dorian Gray into nothingness with a theatrical effect.

The adaptation by Tilted Wig Productions, Malvern Theatres, and Churchill Theatre including Jonathan Wrather in the cast certainly had big shoes to fill, and the creators somewhat seem to have taken on more than they could digest within the timeframe of an evening’s theatre play. The stage set is a rustic apartment and changing lighting suggests changes of location, from the painter Basil’s studio to a backstage room to Lord Henry’s living room and Dorian Gray’s own residence. Whilst changes of location are made clearly, the use of set, props and costume are traditional. What thus comes as a surprise are coloured light and contemporary dance intervals in the second half of the play that aim at creatively indicating Dorian Gray’s state of mind. Whilst the play starts to explore some interesting angles to reinterpreting the story, it does not embrace one approach fully.

Richmond Theatre is a beautiful Frank Matcham theatre. Built in 1899 as the Theatre Royal and Opera House, it was refurbished in 1991. The inside of the auditorium embodies the aesthetic of the late 19th century, a perfect setting for the play.

Grief is the Thing With Feathers

Written by Zak Jackman-Sherliker

Photograph by Colm Hogan

Photograph by Colm Hogan

Cillian Murphy had a challenging task in this play in portraying two protagonists embodied in one person. There is the menacing crow juxtaposed with the grieving father. True to form, he manages this with great skill as we are taken on a voyage into the deep and endless sea of grief. Max Porter captures the essence of raw human pain in his writing which is such a gift for any actor to convey. We are left in no doubt as soon as the nib of the pen screeches onto the projector, cutting to the core of grief that we have entered into a very private, very intimate realm that is as full of intrigue as it is despair.  

Photograph by Colm Hogan

Photograph by Colm Hogan

Murphy’s dynamism and energy are nothing less than athletic. At times the play feels as though it borders on physical theatre as the menacing crow takes a firmer hold on its victim writhing, convulsing and jumping around the stage. The deliberate bareness of the set gives way to the Crow’s presence; this could be any London flat at any time which is precisely what gives the narrative a further element of poignancy. One feels as a spectator, strangely detached from the narrative, moreover, alienated in the Brechtian sense of the word. There are no unnecessary embellishments, no frills, just the seamlessly endless and cluttered confusion of grief. 

This sense of detachment is often part and parcel of the grieving process. His two sons are at least for the first part of the play, props setting the scene and tone of what is to come. By giving the boys very little to do in the Part One, we are left in no doubt of the impact that is brought to bear on boys without their mother. 

For the entire play you are breathing through the grief as though transported ethereally and surreally in to shock. It is loud, bleak and hard hitting with both moments of humour and beauty. There is an   anthropomorphic synergy that provides contrast and rhythm throughout. After the first visitation of the Crow, he leaves a feather on the boy’s pillow as though grief has marked its territory, taking no prisoners and moving in for the long haul. There is no escape and that is what makes this play so enthralling. It wills you at every stage to stay strong with the protagonist and go through this spiritual process from start to finish. You are held captive as it swings between the utterly surreal and the disengaged, dead pan reality of loss and finally levelling out at acceptance. This is a play worth the pain if only simply to grapple collectively with this ever so human of experiences, the loss of a loved one. 

Photograph by Colm Hogan

Photograph by Colm Hogan

Enda Walsh’s directing leaves no stone unturned. His realisation of Porter’s meditation is an echo chamber between life and death. The stage becomes a kind of hellish limbo relieved only by brief glimpses into quotidian London life. 

One gets a sense of the futility of loss when Crow is at his most menacing, promising to reconstruct their mother from descriptive fragments and drawings hashed together in desperation: 

“The telly went off and crow suggested a game, you two boys much each build here on the floor – a model of your mother just as you remember her! And whichever of you builds the best model will win”. 

(Faber and Faber London, Grief is The Thing With Feathers, Max Porter pp 28-29)

The boys set about in a hurry to construct something true to the likeness of their mother but are of course, left disappointed, angry and betrayed by the Crow. Their Father (Murphy) is bemused as to what he has promised having been hijacked by the Crow he constantly has to overpower in order to continue to be a father. 

A superb cast delivering to us an insight into the minds-eye of grief, a subject oft-overlooked and much-less talked about. Perhaps Porter has lifted the lid for us to be able to explore the grieving process and find what it is that binds us. Porter wanted his book to be, “stabbing and jarring and suddenly very beautiful”. (Interview with Max Porter “5x15 Stories”) This contrast of the violent and the beautiful is present in a play that thrashes you to the rocks then stitches you back up and invites you to afternoon tea. It is an anthropomorphic ode to grief. 

Enda Walsh’s realisation of Porter’s work is very inkeeping with Porter’s desire to resolve the play in beauty. There remains an unresolved continuum for the observer. Porter addresses grief on its own terms in this fine eulogy to Ted Hughes’ poem. The entire rhythm of the play rises and falls continuously as the nightmare progresses. Yet through all this entangled grief there is hope and resolution; a sense that life goes on. 

 

 Grief is the Thing With Feathers is showing at The Barbican Theatre until 13th April 2019

 

Grief is the Thing With Feathers. photo by Colm Hogan.JPG
Photograph by Colm Hogan

Photograph by Colm Hogan

Paloma Faith meets Whitaker Malem: Her New Album Release and Images on display at Exhibition in Liverpool

Photography by Ram Shergill

Creative Direction and Set Design by Daen Palma Huse

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Make Up by Lan Nguyen-Grealis

Hair by Eamonn Hughes

Nails by Julia Babbage

Assistants Vanessa Hastings, Helene Grastveit, Sara Santini, Andrew Hiles

Production by DPH Management

Paloma pictured in corset by Whitaker Malem, coat by David Koma, earring by Vicki Sarge

Paloma pictured in corset by Whitaker Malem, coat by David Koma, earring by Vicki Sarge

Today Paloma Faith's new album The Architect has been released. At the same time, two of the images that we produced with Paloma Faith at The Protagonist Magazine will be pre-released tonight at the exhibition opening of "Pop-Artisans" in Liverpool, an exhibition around the work of the renown designer duo Whitaker Malem. The photographs were taken by our Editor in Chief Ram Shergill.

Matthew Barton, music specialist, reviews Paloma's new album for The Protagonist Magazine as follows: "Three years on from her last LP, 2014’s A Beautiful Contradiction, Paloma Faith returns with her fourth full-length, The Architect, an album of social commentary doubling as complicated relationship songs that positions her firmly as Britain’s leading exponent of soulful pop music. Faith, a fixture in British pop since 2009’s debut Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? has always been a savvy collaborator, from introducing trip-hop maestro Nellee Hooper’s production smarts on 2012’s Fall from Grace to teaming up with Pharrell Williams on the barn-storming soul stomper “Can’t Rely On You” from A Beautiful Contradiction. But The Architect’s impressive list of credits signals a clear message: Paloma Faith is ready to advance to the big time..."

Read the full review in our upcoming print edition with an exclusive interview and a large spread of unseen new images, out at bookshops and newsstands the beginning of December in the UK, available worldwide shortly after!

Coinciding with Paloma Faith's latest album release is the opening of the exhibition "Pop-Artisans" by Whitaker Malem in Liverpool, The Gallery Liverpool, 41 Stanhope Street, L8 5RE, which will be on display until 10th December 2017, admission is free.

The show represents almost 30 years of the duo’s creative partnership. Featuring archival pieces from their film costume work, including this summer’s hit movie Wonder Woman – alongside fashion pieces. The event will also premiere new art works by Whitaker Malem – fusing together the worlds of fashion, art & film as is presented in conjunction with Duo vision, Homotopia & Arts Council England.

The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to better understand the current relationship and interaction between fashion design and film costume. Film fans will be able to see close-up a selection of film costume pieces from the Whitaker Malem archive.

Including: Amazon warrior metallic leather armour from Wonder Woman – which according to The New York Times “has emerged as a breakout fashion star in its own right”.  Lindy Hemming, the film’s costume designer, having told producers that ‘’I know the best people in the world to do the amazon’s armour’’ commissioned prototypes at the pairs North London home and studio. Wonder Woman could be considered the ultimate Whitaker Malem movie project - they worked closely to the body to create a sexy/athletic armour look (most film armour being bulky). The costume armour draws heavily from the style & technique of Whitaker Malem’s fashion work & sees the evolution of what could be considered almost a ‘house style’ for movies beginning with Eragon & through Warner Bros. Harry Potter, Jack the Giant Slayer & Eva Green’s armour for 300: Rise of an Empire.

There will also be the opportunity to see selected pieces and process material from:  Captain America: First Avenger, Batman: The Dark Knight Trilogy, 007: Die Another Day.

Whitaker Malem began life as a fashion house in 1988, focusing on leather. The pair met by chance at a house party in London in 1986; Patrick Whitaker was studying fashion design at Saint Martin’s School of Art and Keir Malem was working at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, London. The couple first worked together when Keir helped Patrick with his degree show collection in 1987- which featured a formed leather bustier.

After two runway collections and dressing pop names such as Paula Abdul, Cher, George Michael and Bros. and selling their collection in Los Angles, New York, Paris, London and Hong Kong, the two struggled to make ends meet and moved into collaborations with other fashion designers.

Highlights including - creating a gold leather armour dress for Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 1997 debut Givenchy haute couture collection, a leather eagle bustier for Tommy Hilfiger’s spring/summer 2000 Red Label show worn by Naomi Campbell (both these collaborations foretelling their work on Wonder Woman). They have also worked on collections with British designers Giles Deacon and Hussein Chalayan.

Whitaker Malem pieces have been photographed by Herb Ritts, Helmet Newton, Mario Testino and Pierre et Gilles and featured in Vogue, Elle, V magazine, The Face and Love Magazine. A selection of these images will be featured in the exhibition.

The self-styled Pop-Artisans also have an ongoing long-term collaboration with celebrated British pop artist Allen Jones, dressing his female figures in leather.

 

Pop-Artisans, The Gallery Liverpool, 41 Stanhope Street, L8 5RE, until 10th December 2017, admission free.

"Doubt, A Parable" at Southwalk Playhouse

Written by Toby Burgess and Daen Palma Huse

Jonathan Chambers and Stella Gonet, Photo: Paul Nicholas Dyke

Jonathan Chambers and Stella Gonet, Photo: Paul Nicholas Dyke

“Doubt, A Parable” honours its subject with the emotion, complexity and sensitivity we would expect. 

Set in 1964, Sister Aloysius (Stella Gonet) is the head of a devout Catholic school, responsible for Sister James (Clare Latham) and responsible to Father Brendan Flynn (Jonathan Chambers). Rocked by an observation of Father Flynn by Sister James, the protagonist, Sister Aloysius calls faith, patriarchy, wisdom and religious order into question.

The characters each pivot on a profound and difficult accusation, one which plays off of their maturity, standing and morality. For such reasons, the characters demand a depth from their actors, and it was pleasant to see Stella Gonet deal with this challenge effectively - for a character so stern, we found her immensely touching. Equally, Clare Latham as Sister James deserves a special mention; her performance was relatable and compelling

Overall we found the play was slightly short of the depth that the text displays. The panicked and tense scenes did not grip us as much as they could have and use of lighting and sound attempted to unsettle the audience, but perhaps missed the mark. The set, whilst practical and aesthetic lent little to the play – we could not help but think this could have been stripped back.

“Doubt, A Parable” is a momentous script; we felt the play fell a few steps short, but we left with great admiration for the script, a respect for all the actors and a continued love of the Southwark Playhouse.

Clare Latham and Jonathan Chambers, Photo: Paul Nicholas Duke

Clare Latham and Jonathan Chambers, Photo: Paul Nicholas Duke

Stella Gonet, Photo: Paul Nicholas Dyke

Stella Gonet, Photo: Paul Nicholas Dyke

Harry Richardson

Photography and Writing by Ram Shergill

Styling and Creative Direction by Daen Palma Huse

Jacket and T-shirt by Diesel

Jacket and T-shirt by Diesel

It is not very often you get to photograph someone who is as handsome as Harry and who you feel will be a great talent of the future. Harry seems to posses a look and demeanour of one of the Hollywood greats such as a young Paul Newman or Robert Redford.

In The Protagonist studio we worked closely with him to decide what he would like to wear for the images, in each image we could collaborate on his character for the particular looks as well as choosing the soundtrack being played while capturing the image. We started to have a conversation about and listened to some of the soundtracks from Franco Zeffirelli films. This set the mood perfectly.

Harry has the quality that I feel most great directors would want in terms of what an actor can do. For instance, I find that working with great talent such as Eddie Redmayne and Dame Judi Dench, they can follow direction and immediately transform their character. This is a quality that I found in Harry on the day.

Harry is an Australian born actor who has trained at RADA as well as at West Australian Academy of Performing Arts in Perth, Australia.

What projects are you currently working on?

Just travelling and learning outside of acting before the next season at the moment.           

 What does the word Protagonist mean to you?

The nucleus character of a narrative… Or a really, really cool magazine.  

How would you say a still photo shoot differs from working on a film and how did you find today’s shoot?

Taking stills I am way more self-conscious and think about the camera too much. Whereas acting on film I am way more focused on the other person and not really thinking about the camera at all. But today’s shoot was super fun and creative – Ram is like a vintage Hollywood director. 

What is your favourite film and why?

The Great Beauty by Paolo Sorrentino. It’s so luxurious, every frame is so opulent and like an artwork and yet the core of the story is simple. I get something different out of it every time. 

Who would you like to work with most and why?

Paul Dano. I think his work is so eclectic and he's such a generous actor while also being mindblowingly creative. Plus he seems like an awesome dude.

What was it like working on the set of Poldark?

It was like a family adventure. The people were so kind and inspiring and it kept me bouncing into work everyday at 5am. 

Is there any director you would like to work with in particular – and why do you admire their qualities?

Martin McDonagh - I think his plays and films are so funny, cutthroat and tight. His rhythms are so fun and his stories kick ass.

What plans do you have for the future?

Plans just get in the way. Anything you can come up with isn't nearly as interesting as what life throws ya!

Harry Richardson is currently starring in the new adaptation of Poldark which is currently showing on BBC1.

Jacket and shirt by Blak Wren archive, bow tie by The Bow Tie

Jacket and shirt by Blak Wren archive, bow tie by The Bow Tie

Jacket by Saint Laurent, shirt Blak Wren archive

Jacket by Saint Laurent, shirt Blak Wren archive

Shirt by Blak Wren archive

Shirt by Blak Wren archive

Jacket by AJSK, bow tie by The Bow Tie

Jacket by AJSK, bow tie by The Bow Tie

Jacket and shirt by Blak Wren archive, bow tie by The Bow Tie

Jacket and shirt by Blak Wren archive, bow tie by The Bow Tie

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Harry wears jacket and shirt by Scotch & Soda

In Love with Shakespeare

Photography by Ram Shergill

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Styling by Claudia Behnke

Set Design by Daen Palma Huse using Daler Rowney

Hair (on Oliver Smiles) by Stephen Lowe at ELSL Management

Grooming (on Oliver Smiles) by Debbie Finnegan at ELSL Management

Models Dovydas Kreivys / Oliver Smiles

Text extract from The Protagonist Magazine Issue 2 written by Miles Twist

Oliver wearing hat by Monique Lee, coat by Burberry, brooch and suit by Daks, tie by The Royal Shakespeare Company, ring by Lalique, shoes by Manolo Blahnik

Oliver wearing hat by Monique Lee, coat by Burberry, brooch and suit by Daks, tie by The Royal Shakespeare Company, ring by Lalique, shoes by Manolo Blahnik

"It‘s a wet and drizzly day, yet here at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, I’m surrounded by bright and vivacious costumes. If you were to ask anyone in the UK where the best stage performances are, they would probably say either London or Stratford-upon-Avon, the latter being the birthplace of England’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare. The Company can trace its roots back to a brewer named Charles Flower, who set up the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1879. This beginning might sound rather insignificant and “rube-esque”, however it is a testament to the skills of those in the Company that it is now regarded as one of the most renowned, accomplished and admired theatre companies in the world. The Royal Shakespeare Company has been home to an array of revered British actors, such as Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Maggie Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch,to name but a few.

Diverse, sparkling and superbly executed performances of Shakespeare are put on every year, for example King Lear in late 2016, directed by Gregory Doran and starring Antony Sher. The key to their success, according to Head of Costume, Alistair McArthur, is the combination of “a high calibre of production, being based in Stratford, and a collaboration of skills.” Collaboration and community are the key adjectives one might ascribe to the company whilst walking around the RSC, particularly to the costume workshop department. It is comprised of four sections: men’s, women’s, jewels and hats, props and armour, all of which come together to create costume masterpieces for the stage."

 

For this shoot, we explored the costumes of The Royal Shakespeare Company that range from Tudor costumes to Victorian wardrobe to fantasy. In our latest print issue you can read an insightful article about the background behind the production and keeping of the costumes and the people that are involved with it in Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as delve into the world of clothing with many more images.

 

For more information please visit www.rsc.org.uk and www.rsc.org.uk/costume-hire

Special thanks to Froo Gager, Costume Store Manager, and the press team at The Royal Shakespeare Company, who made this collaboration possible.

 

Dovydas wearing leather armour by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Dovydas wearing leather armour by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Hat, shirt and jacket by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Hat, shirt and jacket by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Hat Philip Treacy, jacket vintage remade by Jenny Schwarz, shirt by Dsquared, trousers by Child of the Jago, silver bracelets and ring by Phyrra, green crystal ring by Lalique

Hat Philip Treacy, jacket vintage remade by Jenny Schwarz, shirt by Dsquared, trousers by Child of the Jago, silver bracelets and ring by Phyrra, green crystal ring by Lalique

Pearl earring by Bentley & Skinner, all clothes by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Pearl earring by Bentley & Skinner, all clothes by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Tudor leather top and ruff by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Tudor leather top and ruff by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Shirt and jacket by The Royal Shakespeare Company, feather sequin cape by AJSK

Shirt and jacket by The Royal Shakespeare Company, feather sequin cape by AJSK

Jacket by Antonio Marras, shirt and trousers by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Jacket by Antonio Marras, shirt and trousers by The Royal Shakespeare Company

Coat by Dolce & Gabbana, armour piece by Jenny Schwarz

Coat by Dolce & Gabbana, armour piece by Jenny Schwarz

THE JAZZ AGE IS NOW – Aubrey Logan in London

Written by Daen Palma Huse

Photography by Ram Shergill

Aubrey Logan, originally from Seattle and now based in L.A., describes herself as funny, serious and driven all at once. And who would not agree with her after listening to her voice, watching her playing the trombone, giggling at her jokes and tapping their feat to the rhythm she creates!

Aubrey has performed for the second time at Club 606 in London this week – she says she is only just getting into it. Opening with the classic “Fascinating Rhythm” she had the audience captured immediately, only to then surprise with a couple of verses of “She Works Hard For The Money”. Who would have expected a mix of songs from the rhythm and blues standard “Route 66” to a reinterpretation of Meghan Trainors “Your Lips are Moving”?

Aubrey has won the Montreux Jazz Festival Vocal Competition, toured as a featured artist with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox and is working tirelessly between L.A. and wherever her music takes her – she says that what she enjoys most is the universality of music, how people from all over the world can come together and create music in an instant. “I love experimenting with arrangements and I love to improvise.”

New arrangements as well as her own songs are part of the show that she has in store – her upbeat song “Crying on the Airplane” as well as some of the most beautiful new “tearjerkers of jazz” are part of a new album that Aubrey will release soon and that she shared with us.

For the evening at 606, Aubrey was also joined on stage by James Tormé for a beautiful rendition of “Falling Leaves”. She only met James a couple of days before the performance and explains about playing with other musicians or singers together “if they know how to go off the cuff that’s the most exciting!”

The way in which her creativity speaks through her music is obvious. She is one of the few artists very successfully mixing jazz with influences of many other music styles such as pop, rap, R&B – she says when she is listening to the radio, even to a Tailor Swift song, she is asking herself “how would Ella Fitzgerald have sung it?”

Asked about whether Aubrey thinks that jazz “needed” to change in order to stay contemporary she says: “I don’t think anything needs to do anything. I think it’s whatever the artist likes most. I think it’s really difficult to be anything but yourself … If you just wanted to play Dixieland, play Dixieland! If you just wanted to play funk, play funk! I personally would get bored, so it’s not what I do”.

From a very early age Aubrey was immersed into the world of music. “My parents were both music teachers and they would play music in and out of the house. I heard everything from Beethoven to Stevie Wonder on the same day, as a rule! I would copy Stevie Wonder, I’d copy Celine Dion and try and sound like them as a little kid.” She tells me that when she was six years old her mother found her in bed crying. It turned out she was tormenting herself with thoughts about how to get a bass player… a drummer? “I didn’t know how it worked. …because I was six!”. Starting with musical theatre, she began to play trombone at the age of twelve. She explains that as a result of playing jazz she started to sing jazz.

Today, Aubrey jokes about her cat that is named Frank – after Frank Sinatra, of course – before she prepares to go on stage to strike us as an extremely talented vocal artist. We are very glad she did in fact find a base player, a pianist and a drummer – as well as some wonderful backing singers, that turned the evening into a night of music from the heart, from Aubrey’s heart.

We at The Protagonist Magazine look forward to hearing - and seeing - what Aubrey has in store for her upcoming album!

For more information visit www.aubreylogan.com

Postproduction by Ingrid Reigstad

Faye Marsay

Photography by Ram Shergill

Styling by Claudia Behnke

Make Up Hugo Gamboa using Urban Decay

Hair Kristopher Smith using Bumble & Bumble

Faye wears white notched collar shirt and black popped collar jacket by Apu Jan

Faye wears white notched collar shirt and black popped collar jacket by Apu Jan

Faye recently starred in the BBC production Love, Nina alongside Helena Bonham Carter. Her performance has been well received. A rising talent of British acting, Faye is recognised internationally for her roles in Pride and Games of Thrones. We talked to her about her career and what she takes from the characters she plays. Faye seems to have played a number of characters that do not "fit into" society in a conventional way, which makes it interesting to hear what she thinks about prejudice, the struggle for acceptance and the importance of a global solidarity.

What has your best experience been while being an actress?

There really have been so many. The fact that I even get to do this job for a living is, in itself, the best experience. The people I meet and the people I get to pretend to be are amazing. I am incredibly grateful each time someone gives me a job!

How did you get into acting?

I saw a pantomime at age 6 and thought to myself 'that looks awesome'. I did amateur dramatics from around age 13 and then went on to University and then to Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and it went from there.

After going through historical plots in The White Queen and Pride, do you think Game of Thrones indirectly reflect some episodes of the history of the U.K. or can in other ways be connected to the “real” world?

I think what is important and successful about these shows is that they present human beings in a way that people can identify with regardless of when or where they are set. People watch these shows to escape, connect or to see real or imagined versions of themselves. I think that’s what appeals to audiences.

Have you met the Dutch star Carice van Houten on set of Game of Thrones before?

No I haven't but I wish I had! You stay with your own story line cast whilst filming and the other story lines could be shooting in very different locations so I rarely saw many of the other cast members whilst filming.

You recently starred in the TV Series My Mad Fat Diary telling the journey of Rae, an overweight teenager suffering from mental health. What is your opinion on body image?

The pressure is real and the media and advertising only perpetuate the problem. I wish there were no comparisons or definitions out there but there is and that is something that needs to change for the sake of human beings and their mental health.  It should be more about feeling good.

Faye wears skirt and skirt by Lee Patron, bow tie vintage

Faye wears skirt and skirt by Lee Patron, bow tie vintage

What kind of message does My Mad Fat Diary deliver to its young audience in your opinion?

That it’s okay to not be okay. That there is no 'right' way to be or think. That you can ask for help, that you are worthy of compassion and kindest, as is everyone who walks this earth. I think that show is an incredibly important piece of work. It addresses the realities that young and vulnerable people face…it does that with such charm, class and respect. It's real.

With regards to Pride, which was released outside the U.K, how is this film, set in 1984, relevant to today’s society?

Despite huge attitude shifts towards the LGBT community in our society, there are still places on this planet facing the same struggles highlighted in the film and much worse. Wherever there is hatred and ignorance, there will always be struggle, no matter what group of people it is aimed at. I think Pride shows solidarity and togetherness in the fight against prejudice. To me, I think we need a global solidarity to stop all this hatred and fear.

In Pride you worked alongside British actors of your generation, such as George MacKay, but also greats such as Imelda Staunton. How was the atmosphere? Did you connect with some of them until after the film shoot?

They are gracious, kind and hilarious human beings and yes I still stay in touch with many members of the cast. What we had was a very special group of people that believed in the importance of the film and that made for an amazing atmosphere on set.

Faye wears black jacket by Paola Balzano, white Oxford collar shirt by Lee Paton, black ribbon tie stylist's own

Faye wears black jacket by Paola Balzano, white Oxford collar shirt by Lee Paton, black ribbon tie stylist's own

Very recently you starred in Love, Nina – what is it about if you had to sum up in three sentences?

Young lady moves from Leicester to London to have an adventure. She ends up being a nanny for a charming and bonkers family who treat her like one of their own. She's incredibly crap at being the nanny but they persevere with her anyway!

You play Nina, can you tell me a bit about your character?

She is 20 and has grown up in Leicester. Working in a care home with no qualifications she decides to move to London. She is quirky and awkward and has this incredible spirit and optimism. She's not the best nanny in the world but she gives it all she has got. She can be argumentative and a bit of a crap liar, but she has a heart of gold and tries her hardest at everything. She was so much fun to play.

Is it a ‘culture shock’ that your character undergoes after moving to London?

Yes it is. Not one that scares her though. She embraces it and writes letters back home to her sister explaining in great and hilarious detail all the little differences.

You are not from London yourself? How did you initially adapt moving here?

I found it difficult for the first year I was here to be honest. The pace and the sheer volume of people took some getting used to. It is an amazing city though and I love how there is always something to do or see here.

How was it to play alongside Helena Bonham Carter?

Incredible. She is an incredibly special human being with a gift of making you feel comfortable and accepted straight away. She looked out for me and I still hang out with her now when we get the chance. Being in a scene with her is like a master class and I am so lucky I got to be a part of it.

We noticed that many of your experiences in cinema relate to the U.K., are you very attached to your British roots?

I think that that is just the way it has gone for me and I’m not complaining! We have a wonderful industry here doing some awesome things. I would of course never say no to going further afield if I was lucky enough to get the opportunity.

Faye wears whit tunic shirt with lace-up detailing by Shao Yen, ribbed black long waistcoad by James Lakeland, black high waist wide leg trousers by Rawan B, hat by Monique Lee Millinery

Faye wears whit tunic shirt with lace-up detailing by Shao Yen, ribbed black long waistcoad by James Lakeland, black high waist wide leg trousers by Rawan B, hat by Monique Lee Millinery

You seem fond of Teesside, what makes it so special?

Its home. Its where my family is and my oldest friends. The people there are hard-working, lovely and good humoured. The area has had a lot to deal with recently and yet it still powers on. I love it and miss it all the time.

We observed that you have embodied lots of characters in their teen years. Do you enjoy travelling back to this moment in a character’s life?

Its awesome! I get to be different versions of my teenage self!

What’s next for you?

Game of Thrones season 6 is about to air so I’m looking forward to that.  I will be shooting something soon but I’m afraid I can’t say what yet! Things are happening though and in this industry that is a feeling you must hold on to and enjoy because you never know when it might just stop.

Faye wears white notched collar shirt and black popped collar jacket by Apu Jan, black slim fit trousers by WtR

Faye wears white notched collar shirt and black popped collar jacket by Apu Jan, black slim fit trousers by WtR

 

Rosie Day

Inteview by Jeanne Rideau

Photography by Ram Shergill

Styling by Claudia Behnke

Make Up by Hugo Gamboa using Urban Decay

Hair by Kristopher Smith using Bumble & Bumble

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  Rosie wears white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery

Rosie wears white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery

 

What is it that excites you most about acting?

It’s brilliant - Just getting to step out of yourself and play is so very fun and rewarding and different. Just to not be yourself for a while is brilliant. TV/Theatre/Cinema elicit all kinds of emotions from the audience, and to make a stranger feel something I think is quite a magical thing.


Do you have a favourite film/character that reflects or reminds you of a part of your own personality or a special moment in your life?

I’ve always had a massive affinity with Carey Mulligan’s Jenny in An Education. Which is also one of my all-time favourite films. She’s a girl beyond her years, whose smart but still very naive and innocent trying to navigate an adult world, and realising that being grown up isn’t necessarily a good thing and definitely doesn’t make you a good person.

You started acting very young (at the age of 5), how did this affect your childhood and teen years?

It just meant I had a very different childhood to anyone else I knew. Instead of sleepovers it was filming, instead of after school clubs it was auditions. I was surrounded by adults instead of children, who all taught me so much, and I really just loved it.  As I got older I was bullied quite a bit but I didn’t mind too much as I was doing what I loved and got to escape school all the time!

 

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  Rosie wears white crop top by Basharatyan V, black and white collarless blouse by James Lakeland, black sheer flared trousers by Paola Balzano, Chelseahat by The Season Hats. 

Rosie wears white crop top by Basharatyan V, black and white collarless blouse by James Lakeland, black sheer flared trousers by Paola Balzano, Chelseahat by The Season Hats. 


Many personalities have started their career very early as you did, what is your opinion on new icons such as Miley Cyrus, Lily-Rose Depp or Willow Smith? 

I think it’s great. Girls showing everyone it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can be a successful, smart female.


You created a campaign on Twitter, using #thepowerofgirl. How would you describe your role in a movement for female empowerment? 

I’m a massive feminist and supporter of girls. It’s never been a harder time to be a girl. My generation is the first that’s grown up with social media, and whilst it can be empowering it can also be very damaging. #thepowerofgirl was to celebrate all the strong, amazing, tough, great things that girls and women do every day. I’m involved in lots of feminist projects, and until we can safely say that women are socially, politically and economically equal to our male counter parts, I’ll continue.  

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  Rosie wears black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, black felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery

Rosie wears black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, black felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery


You have acted both in films and TV Series. Do you think that people are sometimes more interested in watching TV Series instead of films? 

I think recently because of Netflix and all the online platforms, TV series have become stronger than ever. Series are escapism over a long period of time as you follow and invest in them. It’s so comforting to come home and watch your favourite show. But film is equally important, and as a massive advocate for cinema, I hope TV doesn’t over shadow it.

 

Might there be a revival in watching films at the cinema?

I really really hope so. The problem at the moment is it’s so expensive, especially in London. In the States, its genuinely a thing families do together every weekend, and it’s so much cheaper there. I’d like to see that come back.

 

Do you go to the cinema yourself often?

I try to go as much as I can. I don’t often go to mainstream cinemas and see blockbusters, I love watching independent cinema, I’m often found in the Curzon in Soho on a rainy afternoon! It’s so important to get out and see and support British films. To get a British film made, and in the cinema is so very hard these days - we all need to support them.

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  Rosie wears black ribbed pinafore by The Kayys, white cap sleeve sheer blouse by Paola Balzano, black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, red and black lace-up heels by Malone Souliers

Rosie wears black ribbed pinafore by The Kayys, white cap sleeve sheer blouse by Paola Balzano, black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, red and black lace-up heels by Malone Souliers


What makes a TV Series special for you? 

A great script and a story that needs to be told. I think we’re all looking to escape our lives occasionally, and TV is a great way of doing that.


You have also played in different genres: Romantic in Outlander, Horror in The Seasoning House/Howl, Comedy in All Roads Lead to Rome...  What genre of movie evokes the strongest feelings in you if any? Why?

I genuinely love them all. Horror is fun to make and I love getting scared watching them! I love a thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but I was raised on Richard Curtis films like Notting Hill, so I just love a rom-com. I hope I get to do all genres as I continue! I love making films.

Outlander series 2 is set in the 18th Century. Would you have enjoyed living at the time? If not, is there any historical time you would have loved to live in? 

As a girl, no way, I’d be married by now and probably dead by giving birth to my 8th child! There was no respect for women at all in that period of time. I love the fashion of the 50’s/60’s but I’m very happy in 2016.


What is your opinion on social media? You seem to use Instagram in a rather private way. Do you prefer to avoid a total exposure of your private life on social media? 

I think it’s a very useful, interesting, fun tool, in small amounts. But it can very easily take over your life. And it can be damaging. People only ever put their highlight reel on social media, never their rehearsals! Instagram is my favourite, as I love photos and looking at dancing and amazing food and cute babies, but mines private as I post about my life on there. And I’m still in the phase of posting angsty emotional quotes when I get sad- so it’s probably best for all if it stays that way.


You have acted in many films, do you have any fun anecdotes/trivia to share with our readers?  

Giant fluffy warm coats, sausage and hash brown sandwiches are the best perks of the job. And everyone always has after lunch naps. Being an actor is like being in nursery!

Rosie wears black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, black felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery

Rosie wears black velvet shorts by Lee Paton, white sleeveless ruffle blouse by James Lakeland, black draped waistcoat by Paola Balzano, black felt top hat by Monique Lee Millinery

 

What are your plans/objectives that you would like to reach in the future? 

Just to play lots of different kinds of characters, in really good TV series or films or plays. I really adore my job, I love working. And I think I’m at my best when I’m working.  I’d love to work in America for a little bit. I also want to continue working with charities, and for feminist causes. Thinking far ahead in the future I’d like a little flat somewhere like Notting Hill, where I could have my friends round and have dinner parties, and afternoon tea. And a little baby eventually!

You mainly live in London, which areas of this city do you prefer the most? Would you like to live somewhere else? Is there any place in the world you would dream of visiting? 

I’m totally a street child of Soho, I’ve been hanging out around there since I was tiny, but recently started going more east, which is quite quirky and fun if you can handle the hipsters! I’m found anywhere that has great cake! I’d love to live in New York, I think it’s the only other place I could permanently live, as I’m such a patriotic Brit. A romantic weekend in Amsterdam is top of my list of places to visit at the moment. I just need to find the romance first!

 

Do you have any favourite personality who you would like to meet? 

I’ve been very lucky to actually meet two of my favourite people: Taylor Swift and Caitlin Moran. But I have so many pictures of people stuck on my bedroom wall that are on my list.  I think every young girl wants to be best friends with Jennifer Lawrence, myself included. But actresses like Carey Mulligan, Kate Winslet, Emma stone, Emma Thompson and Julie Walters; I think I’d die if I met them! 

Rosie Day

 

OUTLANDER Season 2 is available on Amazon Prime.

All images are shot on Leica Camera systems.



Joshua Hill

Photography by Ram Shergill

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Styling by Moritz Lindert

Grooming by Natasha Lakic

Written by Miles Twist

Joshua wears jacket and waistcoat by Sean Christopher, shirt by Theory

Joshua wears jacket and waistcoat by Sean Christopher, shirt by Theory

Joshua Hill is the new ‘kid on the block’, yet his maturity, skill and depth of acting knowledge is not correlative to this fresh status. As we chat with him, his East End accent is both charming and gravelly; the depth behind his character, both on and off screen and stage, becoming immediately apparent. His teacher once taught him that “You should be able to do any play with just a chair and a table.” This simplicity and dedication to character is apparent. Hill graduated from Drama Centre in 2013, immediately landing into the role of Carl in Yann Demange's feature film 71. He then went onto to performance as Ray, one of the co-founding members of LGSM in Pride, appearing with Bill Nighy and Andrew Scott. His latest role has been as Constable Scott in Brian Helgeland's Legend, a biopic about the Kray Twins starring Tom Hardy2 and Christopher Eccleston. We spoke to the man who’s gone from Paul Daniels magic kit to working with some of the greats in acting about approaching the role, the differences between theatre and film and his method-like dedication.

 

How do you find the transition between shooting for a film, the interim and then the promotion for the films that you’ve done?

I suppose the interim gives a chance to settle and think about all that you’ve done. There’s that excitement factor when you’re doing it, but afterwards it’s just as cool to talk about something, particularly if you’ve been passionate about it. It keeps on reverberating inside you.

 

What do you do personally when approaching a role?

I suppose it really depends on the role and how similar the role is to you. I try and find similarities in a character to myself and then find what’s different. A lot of the time the jobs that you’re going to get are ones that you are similar to, simply because there’s always someone who will walk in the room that is that role - I’m always going to fit East London boy or scallywag more than 19th Century Aristocracy - those are just the roles that I fit into easily.

 

Preparing for a role depends on what it is and how much you already know about the role. With Legend, I did a lot research into the police and into the Kray Twins and the context at the time. For Pride, we actually got members of LGSM to come in and talk to us and go through everything that young gay men and women were going through at the time. We had so much information from that week of preparation before we even started. Even in simple scenes such as a pub, we had all the research at our fingertips and in our minds such as “when we walk out of here, we may get beaten up”.

 

Do you find that this research can overwhelm and distract you from the role?

Definitely, you have to make sure you can focus on what you’re doing in the scene rather than the research. Character foundations and research are strength. All this research sinks in and then it’s there - it’s like going to the gym and you build up strength. You then don’t need to worry about that strength, it’s just there. It’s the same principle with the research for a character.

 

Joshua wears suit by John Varvatos, shirt by Theory

Joshua wears suit by John Varvatos, shirt by Theory

What sort of role do you feel you’ve been furthest from compared to your own character?

The most recent role I did was a stage production where I was playing a Northern Irish UVF militant and everything for that was different: accent, walk, life. The only similarity was that we were working class. He was a solid hitman and didn’t waiver with any emotions - this role was a lot to deal with, particularly when it came to getting the Northern Irish accent down which was very difficult. Now, no matter what accent I’m meant to be doing, I slip back into a Northern Irish accent.

 

I tried to replicate how uptight my character was. You could be shot, you could be bombed in his world at any minute, it was really dangerous. There was one show where everything went wrong and afterwards we thought it was the worst show we’ve ever done. The director came up to us and said, “That was the best show you’ve ever done.” He said that the fact that things went unplanned put everyone on edge and made the whole play tense and on point.

 

Joshua wears velvet tuxedo by Sean Christopher

Joshua wears velvet tuxedo by Sean Christopher

What are your thoughts on the differences between theatre and film and the role of the audience in those two mediums?

I love film but watching and being in a film are two completely different experiences - when you’re watching, it’s an amazing experience but when you’re in a film there’s a lot of waiting around. When you’re doing theatre, you get the sound of the audience and this is something that’s grown on me more as I’ve gotten older. When I was younger, I always believed you had to be quiet in the theatre, however now I enjoy it when there’s a gasp from the audience or some reaction.


I performed a play which included a lot of dialogue with the audience and at the start this girl comes onto stage and says “Hello”. The usual British reaction was silence, however one night we had three elderly ladies at the front who said “Hello!” back! It was such a good moment, suddenly we have people who are interacting and talking. It can be magical. I saw Mark Ryan’s perform Richard III and he was interacting with the audience - people loved it. I don’t think many actors can get away with it, but when they do, the audience enjoy and crave it.


I prefer people to go to the theatre because they want to go to the theatre and allow themselves to react to the performance onstage, be it a gasp, a shout, an exclamation rather than going to the theatre just so you can tell people you’ve been to the theatre. I remember there was a performance piece with a woman - I can’t remember her name - and she allowed audience members to interact with her for thirty seconds with a chosen object. At first they were tickling her and touching her but after a while people picked up say a gun or a knife off the table and started prodding her or pointing the gun in her direction, so much so she started crying. For me, this was shocking to watch but it’s an interesting array of reactions.


Do you enjoy taking up comedy roles?

I find it enjoyable to analyse where the comedy comes from but I prefer to do a mixture of comedy and dark roles, a sort of ying and yang. The mixture of them keeps me sane. I believe a lot of comedy comes from a dark side rather than actually trying to be funny.


How did you get into acting?

It was gradual: I used to want be a magician as a young child, I enjoyed the performance side and had a Paul Daniels magician kit. I remember I did some theatre at school such as Elvis in Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat - I don’t know why Elvis was in this play, but I was. I ended up going to Drama Centre. It was layered: you start finding different aspects to characterisation and then you become really involved in it and then it’s just a drive to play the guy, it’s addictive. You read a line and you think, “I can’t wait to say that, to do that.”


Is there a particular person you’d like to work with?

This is funny, you have these ideas about people and then when you meet them, all these assumptions can be changed. Sometimes that can be good or sometimes it can be bad. There are a lot of great actors out there but if I had to pick one, it would be Ed Harris - I think he’s great!

Joshua wears leather jacket and scarf by John Varvatos, denim by Tommy Hilfiger

Joshua wears leather jacket and scarf by John Varvatos, denim by Tommy Hilfiger

Ben Forster: Provoking an Emotion

Written by Moritz Lindert

Photography by Ram Shergill

Make-Up by Sara Sorrenti

Ben wearing turtle neck and coat by Tommy Hilfiger

Ben wearing turtle neck and coat by Tommy Hilfiger

When the curtain rises at the Dominion Theatre this winter season, Ben Forster will change the crown of thorns for a knitted hat in red and green. The West End performer, who so famously won Andrew Lloyd Webber's TV search for Jesus Christ Superstar in 2012, now took on the lead role of Buddy in the highly anticipated West End production of Elf The Musical. After premiering the role to a UK audience in Dublin last year, Forster is now ready to lead the improved show to the London stage and save Christmas again, just as US-comedian Will Ferrell did in the successful 2003 original movie Buddy the Elf. But even without the famous adult elf or the biblical role of Jesus to his records, Ben Forster would still be the man to climb mountains in musical theatre. Having also played Doody in Grease, Michael Jackson in Thriller Live!, Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Magaldi in Evita, the 34 year old's theatre credits read like every actors bucket list - and ticking off another goal, as he will take over the iconic title role of West End's The Phantom of the Opera in February 2016.


For The Protagonist Magazine, Editor in Chief Ram Shergill captures Ben Forster off stage. Out of costume and without the adorable curly Elf's wig, just as the thoughtful and confident performer he is when the curtain goes down again – talking about the early stages of his career, the struggles along the way and that lasting thrill he finds in provoking an emotion.



Ben, you are in the middle of preparations for the opening night of Elf The Musical. Please tell me more about your role Buddy.


I play Buddy, the Elf, which, as most people now, is the Will Ferrell role from the original movie. He is this crazy, big-kid, innocent person who has been growing up with elves since he is a baby. Now that he is 30 years old, he suddenly finds out that he is a human being and has to find his real dad in New York. So Santa puts him on an iceberg and floats him to New York. The Musical is following this journey of him learning all the different things about life. Finding love and sadness and all the things humans experience.


It sounds like a real family entertainment, wouldn't you say?


Most definitely yes! But it's not just a show for kids. Everybody loved the movie Elf. It crosses over so many boundaries, there are a lot of adult jokes in there. And it has a proper Christmas spirit, a really nice heart. It makes you laugh in all the right places but the message and the moral of the story really touches peoples’ emotions.


Speaking of right places - How did you find your way into performing?


When I was five or six years old, my sister used to go to dance class every Saturday. And I was sort of dragged along to watch every week. I even remember taking a dance lesson myself and feeling so stupid because I was the only boy. I felt so mortified with all those little girls in their frilly dresses and me tapping my feet along. It all felt so wrong.


How did you overcome that?


My parents joined the Amateur Operatic Society, where non-professionals put on a show. I ended up doing that with them and when I went to Comprehensive School I had a very nice music teacher who recognised a little bit of talent in me. She guided and advised me and pushed me into the National Youth Music Theatre, which was an amazing thing for me. Suddenly there were all these young people, boys and girls, that wanted to do what I wanted to do. That was something completely new to me. Where I grew up in Sunderland in the nineties it was really 'Billy Elliot' land – there was no show business or any kind of performing arts, especially not for men. You would work as a mechanic, or a builder or in the ship yards, but when I got into the National Youth Music Theatre there were all these people telling me about London, stage schools and performing arts colleges. I just knew that this is what I need to do.

 

And you certainly did - you went on to study at Italia Conti Academy in London and made your West End debut at only 18. But you also worked as a solo artist?


Yes, after having done various shows like Grease and The Beatles Musical, I had a real thrive to be a singer-songwriter. I left my West End career to explore this for about two or three years. But at some point it went wrong. It just never happened for me. So I ended up singing in pubs with my guitarist. I have to say, besides singing in the 02 Arena and all these amazing places or being the lead in a show, there is still something very satisfying about singing over an acoustic guitar with no one listening to you. To turn a pub full of busy, chatting people who didn't buy a ticket to see you, to make them listen and sing along, that was one of my favourite things. It still would be.


But you eventually found your way back onto the stage.


I kind of gigged for about two or three years and then somehow found myself back in the West End where I did Thriller Live!. That was an audition, which I turned down again and again because I never thought I sounded like Michael Jackson or could be him in the West End. I didn't really get the concept of the show. But finally I went to audition and ended up in the original cast, which got me back to the West End. And I stayed with Thriller until I auditioned for Jesus Christ Superstar.


In February 2016 you will take on another widely known role as The Phantom of the Opera. How do you feel about moving from Buddy to Phantom?


Nervous, because it is so very iconic. Phantom of the Opera was my first ever West End show. I remember seeing it when I was ten years old and it was just magical. Jesus was iconic as well, but there is a different sort of pressure and expectation to every role. With Jesus you obviously take on something huge, with Buddy you are facing the comparison with the hilarious Will Ferrell. And it is something completely different for me as an actor. It is being funny, being a comedian. But Michael Crawford, the original Phantom of the Opera previously played the sitcom character Frank Spencer, who was actually quite like Buddy. So I know that he did it, I know that he was capable of switching from the comedian to this very dramatic role. Hopefully I can somehow do the same.


Which of those role-types do you prefer? The dramatic, broken soul of the Phantom or the joyful innocence of Buddy the Elf?


Being an actor and taking on a role is about provoking an emotion. Whether you hear 2.000 people laughing at you or you hear 24.000 people in the 02 arena sobbing in the end when Jesus dies. When you feel you created that magic, that people believe enough to laugh over a line that you have said nine times that week or to cry over a scene you have played over and over – That is what I do it for. I don't prefer one or the other. It is so equally brilliant that I get to make people laugh or cry or live in magic. It is amazing that theatre can do this, provoking emotion.

 

Do you like being the front and centre of a show?


I think that is what we all want. You put yourself through all that training, I started performing when I was five and never ever stopped since. And there is nothing more pleasing than being front and centre of it. That is what it is all about. It is the idea of fronting something. Knowing that you are doing the best job you could do for this production. No matter how much money people spent on their tickets, or however far they have travelled to see the show, you just can not have a half-hearted performance. You need to put everything into it. But it is very healthy, healthy for life.


It sounds quite demanding as well!


It is stressful and really busy but it is not work. Of course we as performers have to do rehearsals and previews and opening night, we have to be at a certain place at a certain time, but still it isn't work. I have never worked a day in my life. When I couldn't pay my rent back in the days as a twenty-year-old, I went to earn my money singing in a pub, but that's not work. Yes I use my body and it might be tiring sometimes. But I love it, it's my passion.


What would you like to tell your previous self, that young boy struggling in dance class?


Never be self-conscious, just be yourself! I didn't become successful until I found out who I was and was able to use my body in a free, open way. Even until I was twenty-two I didn't really know what to do with my arms. I felt wooden and self-conscious. Learn who you are use your body and be free. It doesn't matter if you look ugly or sexy.

And what would I tell the guy singing in the pub? Maybe just: Keep believing that it is going to happen. It will, if you work for it!


How did these experiences shape you as an artist?


They we're extremely important to get where I am today. Just by singing in a pub, not having any responsibilities, I was able to experience some of the best nights of my life. And still, when I could not pay my rent it made me fight even more for what I wanted. Everything builds you and gives you heart and passion. And the roles that I have been able to play all need that. Buddy the Elf has so much real heart and warmth and you just have to love him. The person playing Buddy has to know about those things, about life. You can't just be the funny guy. It has to come from a real place.



Elf The Musical is showing at The Dominion Theatre in London.

Cynthia Erivo Debuts on Broadway

Written by Antoinette Alba

Photography by Ram Shergill

Make-Up by Natasha Lakic using NARS

Dress by Marcin Lobacz

Cynthia Erivo is one of the world’s rising stars. Coming from London she makes her Broadway debut this December in The Color Purple alongside Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks. Having previously played the touching role of Celie in The Color Purple at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London under the direction of John Doyle, the show and Erivo’s performance in particular had British audiences captured and moved.

 

The first time we heard her singing we were captivated by the emotion that Erivo emanates in her voice. A true powerhouse, Erivo has enjoyed a training at one of London’s most prestigious institutions, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Singing from an early age, she has so far starred in numerous plays in London showing both of her talents – from Shakespeare on stage to moving a grand audience at the O2 Arena.

 

Erivo approaches The Color Purple as another extremely important story to share.

“It’s a story of a woman who doesn’t realise she’s in a place that she shouldn’t be and going through things that no human should ever go through but accepting them as normal and then watching her learn that that’s not the way anyone should live; she learns to build herself up and learns to love again. Being able to tell this story is very special and it’s a huge responsibility because you don’t want to make it trivial, you don’t want to stand on the outside. You need to be on the inside of that story so you can tell it truthfully.”

 

In Erivo’s eyes, you never know who is going to be out in that crowd, who’s going to truly be listening and who needs to hear this timeless story. It’s an ode to women, to relationships, and most importantly to the courage to let God lead and to fall in love with yourself. In an interview for Playbill, she talks about the film and Whoopi Goldberg’s performance as powerful. “I think that her performance was incredible, and I just wanted to make sure that when I did it, it was both honourable to what she has done and honourable to myself as an actor and to the piece that we were creating."

 

The added element of working with Jennifer Hudson and Danielle Brooks, who play Shug Avery and Sofia, make it all the more exciting! Erivo describes the trio as a not just a team but as teachers to each other.

 

“I’ve sort of come from the opposite direction. So, they’re coming at it from music, fame, TV and film and I’m coming in from the other end which is right onstage–in front of people, eight times a week theatre. When we met we realised we all had something to teach each other.” The chemistry between Erivo and Hudson who play best friends in The Color Purple is truly something amazing to see as they vocalised some of the songs for the show in the recording studio. Their voices intertwine with one another as they harmonise in notes that break your heart and move your soul.

 

The performance of “My Funny Valentine” by Cynthia Erivo that we present to you here is soft, touching and smooth, but Erivo has many facets and a powerful voice - and is certainly a force to reckon with on international level, not only in 2016 but far beyond.

 

 

Read a full feature on Cynthia Erivo in the upcoming hardback print edition of The Protagonist Magazine early next year.

 

Mathew Baynton on Good and Bad Comedy

Interview by Daen Palma Huse, Written by Moritz Lindert

Photography by Ram Shergill

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Styling by Moritz Lindert

Grooming by Natasha Lakic using Sisley

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    Mathew wears suit by Tommy Hilfiger, shirt and bow tie by Brooks Brothers, socks by Burlington and shoes by Caterina Belluardo

Mathew wears suit by Tommy Hilfiger, shirt and bow tie by Brooks Brothers, socks by Burlington and shoes by Caterina Belluardo

Mathew Baynton does it all. Not only is the 35-year-old actor from Southend-on-Sea a regular lead on screen and stage and busy starring in the new comedy series You, Me and the Apocalypse - but he is also busy writing and creating some of Britain's most delightful TV sitcoms. With a drama degree and professional clownery training, the audiences’ laughs always seem on his side, all while being a father of two. The Protagonist Magazine talked to Mathew Baynton about his work and inspirations and why it is such an awful thing to try desperately making people laugh.

 

You have been working as an actor as well as a writer. For many of your projects you are joined by a regular team. How does that come about?

The whole team we have worked together for seven or eight years now and everything we do together is like homecoming or a school reunion. We always have a lot of fun and it is so easy to work because we know each other so well. We've done two TV shows together, Horrible Histories and Yonderland, which we are now about to do the third series for.

 

What is it that keeps you together?

It is great to work with people you know. At the beginning of this year I started working on a new series called You, Me and the Apocalypse. Going into that I didn't know any of the cast and had not worked with any of the directors, producers or involved head of departments before. From day one you have to be in and trust these very new relationships you have formed. It just made realise how lucky I have been for the last five years, working almost exclusively with people that I am friends with.

 

Are there any actors you would particularly like to work with?

I have already been lucky to work with some amazing people who I have been a fan of. In the last job I did, Alice Dasia Hill played my mother. She was in a production of Uncle Vanya that I saw when I was seventeen, the time I was still in school and thinking about what I would do after my A-levels. I saw a few things that year that blew my mind and made me realise I'd have to be involved in theatre somehow. One of them just happened to be Alice's performance in Uncle Vanya. And then I got to work with her.

Another one was Street of Crocodiles and I have now worked with Bronagh Gallagher from that show, as well as Clive Mendes. So in a sense I am collecting all of these people that inspire me.

 

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    Mathew wears tuxedo and trousers by John Varvatos, shirt by Tommy Hilfiger and hat and pocket square by Lock & Co.

Mathew wears tuxedo and trousers by John Varvatos, shirt by Tommy Hilfiger and hat and pocket square by Lock & Co.

You have done film, series, clownery and theatre – What has been your favourite project so far?

I actually miss doing theatre. The last play I did was last summer, so almost a year and a half ago. I want to do more of that. One of my favourite things was a play called Holes by Tom Basden. I think it is a masterpiece, I love that kind of material. Yet again, I feel I am so lucky, because most of the stuff I do I really love.

 

How do you choose the projects you take on?

I don't anymore have to do anything I don't like. That used to be harder. So it is a pretty good place to be in for me at the moment.

 

Do you feel less pressured in that way?

There is a new kind of pressure, when you get cast in lead roles. You have to demonstrate your taste in what you choose to do and you are a little bit more judged when you are front and centre. I feel I have to take a bit more care over what I do.

 

Did you always want to do comedy or just found yourself in it eventually?

It was an active choice. I was always obsessed with comedies on TV and I was always performing Monty Python sketches for my family, which, looking back, would have been really annoying. Then I started seeing a lot of great comedy in theatre and actually thought 'Oh I could perform that way myself'. That was a kind of penny drop when I realised that I had always been performing and making people laugh. It just never really came to as a profession to take. That was a little bit of a eureka moment really. I started doing comedy and now more and more I am being drawn to straighter stuff. But my backdrop is comedy. And I think I'd miss it if I wouldn't be doing it at all.

 

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    Mathew wears shirt by Theory, jacket by A Child of The Jago, trousers by John Varvatos, top hat by Lock & Co.

Mathew wears shirt by Theory, jacket by A Child of The Jago, trousers by John Varvatos, top hat by Lock & Co.

What is it that makes great comedy for you?

It is like meeting someone at a party. If they are desperately trying to make you laugh you actually laugh less.

When you are reading scripts you so often see writing in which there are contradictions in a character in order to ‘bang in’ a joke the writer liked. You can tell that you are working with a great writer if they are rigorous and willing to kill their favourite thing if it doesn't fit with the character and the world it is in. There is a certain confidence of not just peppering your material with jokes. It can be fine to have three pages without a gag if the audience can be engaged by the character and it’s story. Jokes are only put in where they are completely justified and funny. It is like meeting someone at a party. If they are desperately trying to make you laugh you are actually inclined to laugh less.

 

Do you feel you got more confident in identifying good or bad comedy writing?

Yes, kind of. That doesn't necessarily mean that I know how to do it. But I know it when I see it. When I started out I could only really say 'I like this one' and 'I like that one' but not really knowing why. And then over time you start to develop your awareness of what it is specifically that makes something you like or don't. Working on The Wrong Mans we wanted to make it a very true and authentic sense of humor, a comedy drama. Not just gags, but strong characters in funny situations.

 

Will we see you working as a writer yourself again soon?

Yes, I am writing a couple of new things. Obviously writing is such a long process. The things I am working on probably won't be seen by anyone for a little while. But I really missed it. I missed the process of creating something from nothing and seeing that all the way through. And I feel everytime I am writing a new thing, I learn how to write for the very first time. I take my own fears to this, which is actually a good sign. I wouldn't really trust it if it was easy. 

 

Mathew wears shirt by Theory, jacket by A Child of The Jago, trousers by John Varvatos, top hat by Lock & Co. and rings by Pyrrha   

Mathew wears shirt by Theory, jacket by A Child of The Jago, trousers by John Varvatos, top hat by Lock & Co. and rings by Pyrrha

 

See Mathew in You, Me And The Apocalypse showing now on Sky 1.

David Leon: Finding Faith in Between

Written by Moritz Lindert

Photography by Ram Shergill

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Styling by Moritz Lindert

Grooming by Sara Sorrenti

David wears a turtle neck, coat and jacket by Tommy Hilfiger.

David wears a turtle neck, coat and jacket by Tommy Hilfiger.

Whenever David Leon passes through the narrow residential streets of Stamford Hill these days, he might get reminded of his work. Right here on the edge of the vibrant and multicultural streets of Hackney and the quiet and timeless roads of London's biggest Jewish community is where the 35-year-old's feature film directing debut takes place. After screening a short film version of Orthodox in 2014, the feature length film now premiered in the UK at the Jewish Film Festival. Orthodox tells the story of a young man parting with his strict Jewish upbringing as he gets lost in the multicultural tribulations of North London. A story of faith, finding oneself and being stuck in between – things actor-turned-director Leon knows only too well of.

 

Without having a drama school education, Leon made his debut on the big screen in Oliver Stone's epic Alexander in 2004, a career start which he now describes as an “incredibly crazy experience”. After going on to play roles in RocknRolla and ITV's Vera, the young actor from Newcastle decided to change positions and started writing and directing his own short films. “I love to throw myself into something”, he explains whilst describing his intention to move behind the camera. “You'll never learn something new if you are not willing to go that extra mile”.

 

For his main character, Benjamin in Orthodox, this extra mile might as well lead along one of the many streets from Stamford Hill through to Hackney. Being bullied for his beliefs the young man takes up boxing and therefore finds himself alienated from his Jewish community. Benjamin, portrayed by leading actor Stephen Graham, is struggling to come to terms with his religious beliefs on the one hand and the cosmopolitan and worldly way of life in Hackney on the other. “It is a hectic and very contemporary 21st-century life in this area”, describes Leon who is a Hackney resident himself, only few yards away in the streets of Stamford Hill, time seems to stand still. “It's a collection of Jewish orthodox communities living like a 19th century Polish village. No television, no smartphones, a whole different universe within this metropolis that is London.”

 

As Benjamin is getting caught within this cultural conflict, eventually making wrong choices that seem to be right, David Leon takes extra time to explore and shape his main character. “As a filmmaker the character is the most important thing to me, even more important than story or plot. In the end it is the character that really stays with you”, says the young director while talking about his lead. “I am interested in characters that live on the fringes of communities or cultures, people who live the extreme” – an extreme that might be portrayed by the tough surroundings of Hackney's streets as well as the strict demands of religion. David Leon understands this importance of a character's depth due to his acting career, but also due to his research, a personal dialogue with rabbis and Jewish orthodox families.

 

For Benjamin, the question of facing extremes eventually becomes a question of faith itself. He is drawn to a place in between. “Orthodox communities dedicate their whole lives to religious learning. I want to find out what that means for individuals on a human level. Some may conform and some may rebel.” Still, Orthodox is not a film about the Jewish religion, but the general terms of faith. “I think people need faith. They need to believe in something that transcends their lives in some way.” Faith as a driving force that fuels both the rabbi and the boxer. And unlike his main character Benjamin, David Leon seems to have found his faith already. It lies behind the camera. 

 

David Leon was photographed at Leica Studio S in London.

Sam Keeley: The New Michelin Star

Interview by Daen Palma Huse

Photography by Ram Shergill

Fashion Direction by Margherita Gardella

Styling by Moritz Lindert

Grooming by Sara Sorrenti using MAC

Sam is wearing jacket by Issey Miyake Men

Sam is wearing jacket by Issey Miyake Men

Sam Keeley is starring opposite Bradley Cooper in the film Burnt that is out now.  Having grown up in Tullamore in the heart of Ireland – a place that is famous for Tullamore Dew whiskey – he has been filming all over the world and has an impressive amount of films being released this year and next. Besides Burnt he is playing a part in the film Alleycats, which is an action thriller, and has shown his versatility by switching genre, showing his many different sides.

After many great films like the Hundred Foot Journey with Helen Mirren or the outstanding German production Bella Martha (Mostly Martha in English) with Martina Gedeck and it’s less outstanding Hollywood remake No Reservations, Burnt let us hope for a great film that is however different to what we have seen so far. The trailer and Sam Keeleys’ description of his character David leaves us hungry for more and we are excited about this release. We got the chance to talk with Sam Keeley about his role in Burnt - and what it means to cook at Michelin Star level.

 

Can you describe the character David that you play in the film in one sentence?

David is a young ambitious chef who wants to make a name for himself in the Michelin star world and has been cooking since he could walk.

 

How would you describe your characters' relation to Adam Jones played by Bradley Cooper? David says Adam is like the Rolling Stones in cooking - is he a role model for him?

Adam hires David and the character says in the scene where they meet that he has studied Adam’s recipes and always been a hero of his. The opportunity to be able to work with someone that he admires is a huge thing for him. There is the need to prove himself in the kitchen – to be good enough to be there.

I think the relationship starts out quite tentative- Adam comes to stay with David as he doesn’t have a place to live. As it progresses it gets more and more comfortable being around the ‘chaos’ of this character.

 

Sam is wearing knitwear and jeans by Tommy Hilfiger

Sam is wearing knitwear and jeans by Tommy Hilfiger

The trailer seems very emotional - is there a lot of layering in the characters?

The story brings you along in a lovely way with the characters that draw you in and I think in that sense it is emotional. I think the characters are layered and you can delve into that as much as you like. Particularly Bradley's, mine and Sienna’s character are also shown in their private life so people can get familiar with them.

 

Is David a confident person?

I think anyone who is a young chef is confident. They couldn’t be in that profession if they weren’t – it’s a very high stress environment and its hard people shouting in your face, you have to get it right. They are in that kitchen because they believe and know they deserve to be there. David is definitely one of those people, being good at what he does - and he knows that. At certain points of the films the pressure does get to him though, you can see that.

 

Do you like cooking?

My dad cooks a lot, I've always liked cooking. For me cooking was peaceful and it would be a time to chill out and do nothing else. I had no idea about the level of commitment it took to be a Michelin Star chef. John Wells, our director, got myself and a few others to watch a full service for two weeks. We’d go in and out and watch. David’s specialty is knives and meat so I was butchering pigeons, preparing the meats and watching the chefs and every move, trying to remember what they do. We were allowed to view the controlled chaos!

 

Sam is wearing jumper by A Child of the Jago

Sam is wearing jumper by A Child of the Jago

Which dish reminds you of home?

I’d have to say it’s a classic Sunday roast! Always brings about a home feeling: an Irish roast.

 

Would you say there is typical Irish food?

I guess it’s a variation. I don’t think as Ireland we have a national dish. We don’t have a huge foodie culture. Because it was poor for so long it evolved around stews and a big medley of things.

 

What do you enjoy most: a technical challenge or getting a simple dish perfect?

I’ll always go simple in a good way. But the thing about the Michelin Star cooking is that it is food art. Different ingredients and very different to cooking a hearty meal at home, which is always amazing. Michelin is a world itself – cooking fish in seconds and having to prepare the sauce at the right moment in order to plate it. Once you plate food you have three minutes to eat it, otherwise you might as well through the whole dish away. To me that is something amazing, and on screen it looks like I can do it!

 

What do you take from the film?

I can chop things really fast now – safely! I can baste fish in butter quickly. Making a lot of sauces and tasting to get the balance right. I don’t know how much I will take of that into my private cooking but I have definitely learned a lot.

Sam is wearing jacket by Issey Miyake Men, shirt and bow tie by Tommy Hilfiger

Sam is wearing jacket by Issey Miyake Men, shirt and bow tie by Tommy Hilfiger

 

How is Burnt different to other films that show the kitchen and chefs?

I don’t think there has been a film that pays this much attention to the details of a life of a chef. There are many big personalities, celebrity chefs. I think it is nice to see what these people put in to be a chef. The hours and hard life they put in and for their art, they suffer for their art and through that they attain some level of invincibility. You'll see that in Adam Jones’ character; they suffer, are covered in burns, have little social life etc. but the result to that is they absolutely love it. To me the film Burnt gives a view through the keyhole and you get a taste of what this life actually is.

 

Hierarchy in the kitchen is predominant and important – is this hierarchy broken by David’s and Adam’s private relationship?

They call the group of chefs in a kitchen a brigade. Some of the best chefs came from the military and that hierarchy is similar. Today some of these traditions are carried through and that social hierarchy exists. You have the commanding officer and then his sous-chef who is second in command and it works all the way down the line to people chopping etc. who would be kind of privates if you like. Still the uniform hast to be intact, spotless clean, all these things. That exists throughout all kitchens I have seen. It was important for us to get that right and I think you made an interesting point in saying that Adam comes to live with David, but it is interesting to see how that doesn’t affect his characters choices and it shows how strong he actually is. I think it was important for us to know our roles in the kitchen – we did 15 minute long takes where we were just cooking. We have to prepare and bring the food – in order for that to work you need to understand who calls the shots, and in this case it is Adam that does and you have to work based on that. That’s what makes the food great.

 

Burnt is showing in cinemas throughout the UK from 6th of November.

 

Shot at Leica Studio S in London using the new Leica SL.

Lucy Boynton

Interview by Daen Palma Huse

Photography by Ram Shergill

Styling by My Name is Kabir

Hair by Hugo Gamboa using Fudge

Make Up by Michelle Webb using Bare Minerals

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Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by  Laura Theiss , skirt by  Catherine Ferguson

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss, skirt by Catherine Ferguson

Born in New York and grown up in London, Lucy Boynton has been acting professionally for many years. Scouted at the age of 12 for the role of young Beatrix Potter in Miss Potter she starred alongside Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor and was nominated for Best Supporting Young Actress in a Feature Film at the Young Artist Award. After a steep start in acting after her role in Miss Potter, Lucy has been seen in Sense & SensibilityBallet ShoesBorgia, landed her first female lead in Ron Maxwell’s Copperhead and is currently working on a horror film called February.

We photographed Lucy in London and she talked with us about her role as Angelica Bell, daughter of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant in the BBC three-part drama about the Bloomsbury Group, Life In Squares.

 

Did you enjoy the shoot for our magazine?

So much! I find it so easy to feel self conscious at photo shoots, I suddenly feel like I lose all control of my arms and face, but Ram creates such a fun, easy atmosphere and directed me whenever I needed it (which was 99% of the time) so very much enjoyed it.

 

How do you feel when getting hair and make-up done? Is it a tedious process to go through for you or do you enjoy it?

Oh lord no I love it. I’m so useless with my own hair and make up so there is nothing more satisfying than watching an expert transform me.

 

What era in style would you say is your favourite?

Since working on Life In Squares last September I have totally fallen in love with that effortlessly glamorous style of the 1930s and 40s. So I’ve since been living on this online shop 20th Century Foxy, which has the most beautiful pieces in the style of that period. I love the cut and the silhouette created by that style. Then again after filming that, I went straight into shooting a movie set in the 80s and became worryingly comfortable with bright blue eye shadow and enormous hair. Bring on the hairspray!

Lucy wears dress by  A Child of the Jago , shoes by  Chiara Ferragni

Lucy wears dress by A Child of the Jago, shoes by Chiara Ferragni

How important do you think it is nowadays for an actress to look good and in a way comply with the ideal of beauty? How do you feel you are perceived as opposed to your male counterparts? Do you think there is a difference?

I think the idea of having to conform to a prescribed idea of beauty is ridiculous. And so boring! Sadly it’s an easy trap to fall into, I am constantly guilty of this, especially with the constant presence and pressures of social media, where everyone is able to filter their lives and themselves to appear flawless 24/7. It’s not real and it normalizes the idea of constantly scrutinizing people. Everyone should be able to appreciate the things that make them unique, rather than what matches girls in magazines. Men don’t get judged and pulled apart in the same way. I’m sure as actors it still happens, but it is nowhere near as brutal.

 

You seem brilliant at transforming into a character on set and working with the direction - is that something you've always been very good at and is that how you became an actress? Did you always want to act? If not, what kind of career did you want to pursue before acting (obviously you were quite young then)?

Well, my original plan was to work at Battersea Dogs Home. But when I was 10 we got a new drama teacher, Helen Kaye, who was actually an actress. Miss Kaye made acting feel like something very special. It was the first time we were being asked to observe how different people function and feel and then embody that. For me it was an entirely new concept and acting suddenly became a very valid and valuable use of time and something I knew I wanted to pursue. And then by the end of my first day on Miss Potter I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Lucy wears dress by  Laura Theiss

Lucy wears dress by Laura Theiss

How did you come to act in Miss Potter?

I was very lucky to go to a school where they allowed casting directors to come in and scout, so really I was just in the right place at the right time. One afternoon a casting director watched over my drama lesson then invited me to audition to play the young Beatrix. And after weeks of workshops and recalls I got the role!

 

Do you think your role in Miss Potter has defined you as an actress?

I wouldn’t say that is has defined me as an actress at all. It has definitely informed my taste in what type of roles and projects I enjoy, and I was given volumes of invaluable advice on that job which I shall take with me throughout my career, but I was so young then. It is a film I am incredibly proud of, and I feel so fortunate to have had that be my first job and my introduction into this industry, but I wouldn’t ever want a single role to define me.

 

More importantly, what roles in between you acting in Miss Potter and now have affected you most? Can you tell us more about those projects, who you worked with and way you enjoyed most about it?

Ballet Shoes was definitely a pivotal role for me. It was my first “lead” role, in an ensemble of the most incredible women, so it was a very special project. I actually recently spoke to Sandra Goldbacher, the director, and both of us are still receiving letters from young girls seeing it for the first time!

Sing Street was also a very special one. I’ve never worked with a director like John Carney before. He is a mad genius. He’s very keen for everything to feel authentic, and always want to hear your thoughts and how you want to play it, so a lot of days he ended up rewriting whole scenes of dialogue on the spot. It’s incredible to watch him work. That’s the genius part. But he also seems to run on this higher frequency, god knows where he gets his energy. You also absolutely need a sense of humour about yourself when working with him. Here’s hoping I made the cut and get to work with him again.

In Sing Street I play Raphina, a teenager who uses her ballsy, impulsiveness to conceal a deep fragility. I always feel kind of awkward talking about her, I feel so protective of her it feels like a betrayal! Like I’m totally exposing her!

 

What is your favorite film?

Drake Doremus’ movie Like Crazy; It is just perfect - and absolutely devastating. And then I love Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude, a dream movie.

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by  Laura Theiss , skirt by  Catherine Ferguson

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss, skirt by Catherine Ferguson

Who is an actor/actress/director that you look up to? Is there anyone you’d really love to work with (whether actor or not)?

I’d love to be in a Baz Luhrmann movie. Or a Wes Anderson. Their movies are both so specifically stylised and theatrical I imagine you couldn’t find a more unique filming experience. I also love Sofia Coppola’s movies, Virgin Suicides especially. I am looking forward to working with more female directors.
Michael Shannon and Ann-Marie Duff are just two of my absolute favourite actors that I would kill to work with. And Felicity Jones, I think she is fantastic. And Joaquin Phoenix. Oh and I think Eva Green is just incredible. I really could so easily sit here and just reel of a long list of names.

 

Can you tell us more about Life in Squares? How did you come about the part of Angelica and did you enjoy the process of producing the series?

I very much enjoyed the process. I did most of my filming at Charleston House in Sussex, where Angelica actually grew up, which was an incredible experience of being submerged in the authentic world of the piece.

 

What kind of preparation did you go through to play Angelica in Life in Squares

Angelica’s book ‘Deceived with Kindness’ was my bible throughout filming. Every one of my scenes was detailed in her book, which is of course a dream for any actor! It meant I could feel confident in the way I was playing her experience. I have such tremendous respect for her I hope I do her justice.

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by  Laura Theiss , skirt by  Catherine Ferguson

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss, skirt by Catherine Ferguson

Having grown up in London, what does the legacy of the Bloomsbury group mean for you? Is it part of 'London life' in the sense that it has affected how London's world of writers and artists is today?

I’m ashamed to say I actually didn’t know a great deal about the Bloomsbury group before auditioning forLife In Squares. I have always loved Vanessa Bell’s paintings, and Virginia Woolf’s books, and of course learnt about Keynes in politics and so on. All of their work is so engrained in British culture but because they were all such strongly individualised artists, it’s hard to think of them categorized as a single group.

 

In this day and age, do we need 'another' Bloomsbury group? Someone that can challenge society and norms in the way the members of the group did?

I think we are always in need of artists to challenge societal norms and push boundaries in the way that the Bloomsbury group did. However, one of the key ideas behind the Bloomsbury group is that it developed organically and spontaneously. And so to try and devise another one like it could only be contrived.

 

What do you take away from Angelica’s character? Are there any parts of her that you can identify with at all in your own personal life?

I don’t think I can. I think it would feel patronising to her to say I did. She had to weather so much dishonesty and betrayal from such a young age, and from the people closest to her, and to survive that requires an incredible amount of strength and resilience. I am able to empathise with her of course, it is impossible not to after reading her book, but I cannot say I am as strong a woman as she was, as I’ve never had to be in the same way.

 

What’s next for you?

Desperately waiting for everything to come out! Life in Squares is out very shortly, which I cannot wait to see. Then Sing Street, which is this beautiful coming of age story set in the 80s and directed by John Carney, should be out soon after. And I’ve also just finished filming February, a horror film directed by Oz Perkins.

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by  Laura Theiss

Lucy wears dress (worn as top) by Laura Theiss