Remembering Jill Hudson

Stage Doorkeeper Jill Hudson was the first person I met walking into the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 1986. For the next 31 years she was the first person most people saw.

Jilly was a smart lady with a big heart and an even larger presence; she ruled the Stage Door with a friendly smile, a quick mind, a calm demeanour – and considerable authority.

The news that Jill has died on January 6th after living with cancer for some time, just a few days after her birthday (on New Year’s Day), is a sad moment for myself and all those thousands of show-people who came across her, and recognised her as a happy part of Drury Lane’s glittering history.

She started at Drury Lane like me, in 1986, on the original five-year run of 42nd STREET, an incredibly happy show which had a real family atmosphere thanks to the warm-hearted management of General Manager Bill Cronshaw. Jill left in late 2017 due to illness, interestingly during the revival of 42nd STREET (which ran at the theatre for nearly two years until January 2019). She did say to me in 2017 that she wanted to retire on the last night of the show, but sadly that wasn’t to be.

For 31 years a favourite with the large casts which filled the Lane, the stage door was really Jilly’s home, with assorted cards and gifts from previous celebrity (and non-celebrity) friends, soft toys and of course Chelsea FC memorabilia. Visitors buzzed in and out constantly, always welcomed and the kettle was always on for a brew and a chat whenever time permitted.

Jilly knew how to be firm whilst being pleasant, qualities which many a visitor appreciated, and in terms of working relationships you knew just where you were with Jill- and it worked both ways. She was the best.

She will not be forgotten by those many people who met her, laughed with her and enjoyed her warm and happy Tannoy messages- especially keeping people up to date on sports event back in the days before mobile phones. Indeed, Twitter and Instagram have lit up with tributes since the news of her passing emerged – proof, if any were needed, that Jill was more loved than even she may have even known!

My thoughts and heartfelt wishes go out to her family and loved ones.

Thanks for all the happy memories, Jilly. Drury Lane will never be quite the same again.


VIEWS: Que?

Image courtesy National Theatre website.

Recently I was organising some theatre tickets for a Spanish friend for her Mum’s visit to London. We met for drinks beforehand and I realised that her Mum spoke very little English. I asked about how she would connect with the show and her daughter said “It’s OK. I just whisper in her ear the important bits”.

It made me think back to times at the theatre when I have been sat near whispering translators, which is usually OK for musicals but it can be very distracting for plays.

It seems unkind to ask them to stop, as their companion may not know what is happening, but also it is a distraction for the rest of the audience, as well as a burden for the person doing the translating. Besides which, the person receiving the translation may also feel uncomfortable about the whole process- grateful but acutely aware of the disturbance to others. In short, it’s a lose-lose-lose situation.

So what can be done?

I am proud that our UK theatre attracts so much interest from visitors from all parts of the world but I feel that we are not doing enough to allow them to enjoy it

You may have heard of the recent development of “caption glasses” which the National Theatre has now introduced successfully across all its auditoria. (For my earlier article about these, click here). These glasses were designed to provide the service of captioned dialogue for those who are deaf or hard of hearing and is already proving a  great success. Unlike the previous captioned performance, the glasses are available at all auditoria for every performance- a real advance.

As a logical extension, if people are already reading captions in English, why should others not be able to read captions in other languages too?

Imagine how much more of a fulfilling experience theatre could be for those who speak little English if they could follow the show with captioned glasses in their own language?

I appreciate that these improvements take time and money to implement, but just imagine being able to welcome visitors from around the globe and make them feel at home with access to one of the UK’s proudest achievements – our incredible theatre.

I aim to talk to the National Theatre about this and will let you know of any developments


VIEWS: PRELUDES as seen by a Hypnotherapist

PRELUDES is a moving and intelligent musical about the power of therapy and music. The show features a hypnotherapist who helps the composer through his problems. I thought it would be interesting to get a practising hypnotherapist’s view of the show, and so I took along my friend Carlos Gouveia who is an RTT Hypnotherapist. I am sure that you will find his thoughts interesting in this, the next instalment of the VIEWS series.

PRELUDES is a fascinating musical journey through the mind of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff as he struggles with writers’ block at the end of the nineteenth century. The way that he chooses to face his fears is through hypnotherapy (the use of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes), a relatively new science at that time. Hypnotherapy in various forms had existed through many centuries, but when reintroduced by Franz Mesmer earlier in the late eighteenth century it began to be regarded with more respect as a scientific therapy.

During hypnosis, a person is said to have heightened focus and concentration, and a dramatically enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. The application of hypnosis as a psychotherapy tool to deal with deep rooted issues in the subconscious mind can bring about enormously positive changes. What is surprising is that even today, certain misunderstandings and misconceptions about this therapy have lingered.

It is incredibly rare to see hypnotherapy given centre stage in a theatrical work of any kind, let alone a musical, and that is why I was prompted to write about it.

Writer/composer Dave Malloy has created a significant show which is not at all showy or blasé; no, this is a very thoughtful and almost meditative show. The audience I saw it with were as focussed as the clients in a therapy session, and their reactions quiet and thoughtful. The show gives no “built-in” pauses for applause except at the conclusion of each act, another highly unusual move which allows an acute maintenance of focus upon the subject throughout.

What is fascinating is that, although this is a show about a musical genius, it is principally about a human issue that we have all encountered: failure. This helps to make the show enormously relatable. We can identify elements of ourselves in Rachmnainoff’s struggle; the negativity, the doubt, the hopes, and loved ones rooting for us. Malloy has given us a very human Rachmaninoff, played expertly by Keith Ramsay.

It is dangerous when someone finds themselves dominated by a chain of thought that tells them that they are not good enough, that they don’t deserve much, and that other people look down on them or tolerate them out of politeness. When they find themselves snagging, hindering or impeding their wellbeing on memories of things they did wrong, or relationships that they didn’t get right, that is the time to seek help.

To ask you directly, reader; do you feel that you have to be a success in life just like you think someone else is -and are you consequently critical of yourself? This place in psychology is called ‘the inner Tyrant’. This was Rachmaninoff’s reality for a long period.

The show portrays the numbing state of depression and anxiety Rachmaninoff was experiencing very convincingly, climaxed at the start of the second act and skilfully performed by Norton James playing the demon in Rachmaninoff’s head. This feeling of being uncomfortable was palpable within the audience as I took time to observe my fellow theatregoers’ facial expressions of unease and discomfort. All of the actors gave highly-committed performances, with Rebecca Caine playing Dahl the hypnotist giving a solid and compassionate portrayal, conducting the sessions calmly whilst effectively supporting and reframing Rachmaninoff‘s state of mind and beliefs about the earlier traumatic event in his career.

Talking to several audience members after the show, as well as being delighted to have seen such a mould-breaking show, several said that they almost felt that they had undergone a sort of therapy too. And as mentioned before, the intriguing thing about the show is that it deals with failure- allowing the audience to share in some degree of their own catharsis as a valuable by-product of seeing the show.

PRELUDES is a brilliant piece of theatre which helps people understand the immense value of hypnotherapy – both historically, and today in helping millions of people live happier and more fulfilled lives, less burdened by the past and more energised by the future.

Of course, hypnotherapy – along with all types of therapy – has evolved dramatically over the last century. In my own branch of hypnotherapy, RTT (Rapid Transformational Therapy), I use a pioneering combination of four therapies – hypnosis, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and psychotherapy – to deliver extraordinary, permanent change from physical, emotional and psychological pain by reframing my clients’ beliefs, habits and emotions that lie deep in their subconscious mind. This gives each client immense value – and it gives me enormous satisfaction to help them.

If this show has prompted you to think about the potential value of hypnotherapy in your own life, please feel free to drop me a line at hello@changeideserve.com or call 07870148504 for a free, initial chat.


Waiting in the Wings: An Appreciation of the Understudy

Understudy, cover, standby, swing – four different names but one essential meaning – those brilliant people who are ready, willing and able to jump into a character at very little notice to ensure that the show goes on, so that you get to have the great night out that you have looked forward to. This article stems from my feeling that understudies are sometimes not appropriately appreciated or their roles fully understood by theatre audiences.

Many times I have heard and seen audiences’ react less than enthusiastically upon seeing an understudy notice in the theatre foyer, in a programme slip, via an announcement on social media or from the stage of the theatre itself. However, by the time the show has finished the understudy receives a very appreciative round of applause and everyone goes home happy, and very often surprised at how good they were. In earlier years I occasionally initially fell into this mind-trap…. but I walked home thinking how lucky I had been to see a “special” performance, out of the ordinary run of shows, with such a great talent ready and able to step in and help the show go on, with the full support of the cast and company around them. It’s at times like this that we are reminded of the incredible teamwork that showbusiness demands, which our amazingly skilled performers give so professionally.

I thought that it might be interesting to gather together three performers who are at different stages in their careers, who have all taken a number of understudy positions, to ask them about their experiences and try to get to understand the work of the understudy a little better. In the interviews below, we will meet Connor, Nikki and Janet. Thanks to all three of them for their enthusiastic participation.

I hope that you enjoy finding out a bit more about some of these great people who are always waiting in the wings…..


Early Career – CONNOR BANNISTER

Connor Bannister. Photo by Michael Shelford

Trained at Mountview, Connor recently took a dramatic lead role in This Island’s Mine at the King’s Head Theatre. He has appeared in several musicals and also understudied on tour and in the West End. He is currently understudying in the UK tour of Blood Brothers. Connor is represented by Global Artists.

Can you please tell us briefly about your career?

I am a Musical Theatre trained Actor who’s been out in the big wide world for two years. You will mostly find me with an instrument in my hand or in a lovely play.

What was your first understudy role?

My first understudy role was in All or Nothing at the Ambassadors Theatre. It had been touring for a while and then had some time at The Arts Theatre before moving further down the road to the Ambassadors. I was brought in to cover all the boys in the band, the band being The Small Faces, and to cover some other ensemble parts if someone else went on for other tracks.

How did you first feel about accepting an understudy role?

Amazing! It is not uncommon for recent graduates to start off as covers so I was thrilled to be joining a show that was going into the West End and for it to be as something as edgy and rock and roll as All or Nothing. Obviously, I felt some internal pressure and trepidation as a young actor who was going into a show like that for the first time. There was also the fear that we didn’t have much rehearsal time, so there was a lot to get under my belt. However, I was eager and totally ready for it.


How did/do you cope with the tension of not knowing if- or when- you 
would go on?

It’s funny that you should ask! There was an evening when all the covers were pretty sure we had all done our times in our respective other parts and were ready to go on and just do the show in our regular tracks. We were a bit late for curtain up and an actor down and no one really knew why or what was going on. Then, all of a sudden, we get a frantically hushed call backstage saying that our missing actor wasn’t going on and we had five minutes to change and prepare ourselves for going on as different tracks! That was a fun show, and a bit of a blessing really that we all got another go at those parts.This sort of thing happens a lot and I think, in my experience anyway, if you’ve done the work and you feel ready, you just get up and get on with it. It’s our job as a cover to go on at the drop of a hat so it is to be expected. As long as you know that everyone else feels safe being onstage with you and you feel safe yourself, there isn’t much that can’t be fixed during a show.

Have you always had sufficient understudy runs?

Not always. The first time I went on in All or Nothing for one of the boys in the band, I’d not done it very much at all. It was lucky that I knew for a week or more that it was going to happen but we only had one cover rehearsal a week. There is much to be said for adrenaline, lots of work in your own time and the camaraderie of your fellow actors and team to look after you onstage and off. Everyone in that company was massively supportive of their new covers when they joined for that stint at the Ambassadors and that was a gift. 

How do you maintain your knowledge of the part as time goes by?

Once you’ve done it under pressure a few times, it sort of stays with you. Becomes muscle memory. Once the fear is gone and the technicalities of a track become second nature, everything seems to fit. If this isn’t the case, it’s about communication with other actors and them helping you, talking to the team backstage about costumes and props and where lights are for certain cues. Even during shows, when things are calm, just walking through other tracks and watching. Watching has always been key for me. I would often play with them offstage and be keeping an eye on scenes and people’s props, etc. Every show can be a bit more rehearsal if you’ve time backstage. 

What is the longest understudy job you have taken on?

Probably the Let it Be UK tour that I was a part of last year. That was from August to October. I never went on during that period but I was covering the part of Paul McCartney. I had a week of proper rehearsals with the band and then learnt the rest on the fly.

Do you understudy several roles?

I have done before. I like having more than one script and getting into more than one person’s brain. The responsibility feels much greater but, like I said before, if you put the work in, it’s totally fine.

Has your approach to understudying changed through your career?

I think my approach remains the same. There’s a job to be done and if that job is given to you, you do it to the best of your ability. It’s much the same as any acting job, but you just might not go on as much. There is always something to be learned and gained, good or bad and that is something I constantly welcome.

Is there anything your more experienced self would say to your younger 
self about understudying?

Don’t be afraid to enjoy that first show more. You know what you’re doing. Yes, you know people in that audience, but they love you and support you so don’t worry what they’re thinking. Just don’t lose focus and you’ll be fine. And when that curtain rises, that feeling is going to knock you on your arse (if I can say that… edit it otherwise!) but it’s amazing. Ride the wave! 

What can companies do to make understudies feel more prepared and 
confident?

This is a tough one. Not everyone gets lengthy rehearsal times or time on stage or a tech, for so many reasons. One could be money, one could purely be scheduling, the list goes on. I think it’s important to keep in communication with covers and make sure they’re not forgotten or treated as lesser. It’s enough to deal with learning so much of a show without getting left just to your own devices to do it, or not feeling like part of the company. Sometimes we all need a bit of guidance. 


Mid Career – NIKKI GERRARD

Nikki Gerrard. Photo by Darren Bell

Nikki is currently standby on the UK & Ireland Tour of Calendar Girls The Musical until November 2019. Most recently she was seen as Dead Mam in the UK & Ireland Tour of Billy Elliot. Nikki is represented by Keddie Scott.

Can you please tell us briefly about your career?

I mostly work in musical theatre and have done since leaving drama school. I went to Sylvia Young and Guildford School of Acting.

What was your first understudy role?

My first understudy role was covering Ria Jones in Victor/Victoria at The Bridewell Theatre in 2003.

How did you first feel about accepting an understudy role?

I felt fine about it. It felt like a rite of passage. A way to learn on the job and develop my skills and confidence.

Have you ever received any valuable advice from colleagues about understudying?

Preparation is key!

How did/do you cope with the tension of not knowing if- or when- you would go on?

That is something that I have only really mastered recently. I was always very afraid. With my current job, as standby for five roles, I have finally mastered the ability to deal with the present moment and be ready for anything with minimal stress. It’s taken time and practice and an awful lot of preparation!

Have you always had sufficient understudy runs?

Absolutely not. Not naming any names but the standard and quality of the preparation and support for understudies has varied wildly.

How do you maintain your knowledge of the part as time goes by?

A combination of show watches, wing watches, script and note reads.

What is the longest understudy job you have taken on?

16 months…my current job. 

Do you understudy several roles?

Five leads and supporting roles.

Has your approach to understudying changed through your career?

Very much so. Preparation is key and fear is a great motivator.

Is there anything your more experienced self would say to your younger 
self about understudying?

Consider your goals…if you keep understudying, you’ll be too useful to change their opinion of you. Consider if that’s important to you.

What can companies do to help understudies feel more confident and prepared?

It is to do with a general culture of respect and understanding. Understudies/covers/standbys (even the names have differing levels of respect) are often thought of as less than. They have maybe had less opportunities, less recognition but they do not have less ability & talent. In fact, often the skills required to cover multiple roles & different characters require much ability, diversity and skill.
In practical terms rehearsals need to be prioritised…not always the case and they need to work up to full cover runs including lights, sound, costume and band – not always done. The thing is, people CAN cope without it (we are dealing with highly flexible people here) but why should they? If some companies provide this, why not all?


Later Career – JANET HARRISON

Janet Harrison. Photo by Simon Mayhew.

Janet is on a career break and therefore is not currently acting. She has extensive experience of understudying UK touring productions.

Can you please tell us briefly about your career?

Taught Theatre Studies, Dance and English [Secondary/Tertiary level] for 33 years; trained with The Actors Company at The London Centre for Theatre Studies 2014/2015; then briefly worked as a tutor for them before landing my first job – Single Spies. All my understudy jobs have been touring productions.

What was your first understudy role?

Single Spies – Alan Bennett  – Theatre Royal Bath No.1 UK Tour   Understudying Coral Browne/HMQueen    Directed by Christopher Luscombe

How did you first feel about accepting an understudy role?

Delighted. Proved I was employable! It gave me a chance to observe/explore the industry first hand with established, experienced actors, director and crew in a slightly less-pressurised environment.

Have you ever received any valuable advice from colleagues about understudying?

Learn lines accurately and securely prior to joining the company.

How did/do you cope with the tension of not knowing if- or when- you would go on?

I just assumed I was going on every performance – and I was given a non-speaking role in many of the tours and this involvement helped – I was so new to the game that I just wanted to be involved.

Have you always had sufficient understudy runs?

No. Resources available have varied massively. TRB [and other well-established companies] were great – regular rehearsals and line runs in situ. The actors playing ‘minor’ roles all understudied larger roles so a full company attended these rehearsals/runs. 

I was the sole understudy for one company, a cast of about 10– no other cover was provided for remaining roles so had there been a problem then performances would have had to be cancelled. I suspect that appointing me was designed to satisfy insurance touring requirements. The assistant director rehearsed me but not in situ and with no other actors. They provided a single full run for me – a very complicated piece – extremely stressful!

Another company never auditioned me and never rehearsed me – they assumed that I would manage on observation alone. They never saw me acting. I worked for them on more than one occasion but never went on. The system was the same for every production – they never saw me act. Eventually I refused their offers – there was no incentive to work for them.

How do you maintain your knowledge of the part as time goes by?

I watched every performance – it helped me feel involved and part of the company.

What is the longest understudy job you have taken on?

18 weeks.

Do you understudy several roles?

I have covered two roles;  but my jobs tended to focus on the lead female role [often the only female role in the play given that I did four Alan Bennett productions].

Has your approach to understudying changed through your career?

I felt more confident demanding that the Company Manager provided some sort of regular rehearsal when none was scheduled. Otherwise I found that I had hit on a system that worked well from the start – probably drawn from my experiences of teaching, acting and directing within education. I learned to adapt quickly to individual company attitudes towards/expectations of understudies. There were some jobs I did not enjoy and I wouldn’t choose to work with these companies again. They seemed not to value understudies.


Is there anything your more experienced self would say to your younger self about understudying?

Never regard your role as inferior to that of others. Your skills and mindset are unique. If you are made to feel this way then this may stem from other company members.

Anything else you would like to tell us in addition to the above questions?

Explore the places you visit on tour – they are full of surprises and are locations you probably would never have chosen to visit in normal circumstances.

If you are able to, take advantage of Equity’s Pension scheme. 

I think it would be true to say that a mature understudy has to work a little harder to integrate – a company often consists of much younger actors who assume that you know the ropes and won’t find them of much interest! I never was employed from the beginning of the full rehearsal period so the company tended to be quite settled before understudies ever joined. The existing dynamics made integration a little more challenging.

In one of my jobs the director invited me to observe rehearsals approximately two weeks into the rehearsal period. This proved really useful – listening to cast debates and watching the blocking taking shape.

What can companies do to help understudies feel more confident and prepared?

All of my comments relate to touring productions. I think the understudy experience at a single venue is very different and far more straightforward.
Experienced understudies will know what to expect and what is reasonable to  demand.

If someone is new to understudying then it’s useful to have a point of contact to ask for clarification – usually the company manager or assistant director when you’re on tour. There really isn’t a standard approach to understudies and a good company should make the schedule and the Company’s/director’s expectations clear in the information they send out with the script. Most will provide lists of digs; all expect you to sort accommodation yourself. Very few young actors have any idea as to how to manage their money for tax purposes – this isn’t really the responsibility of the Company but it’s useful to have someone to ask if you’re at a loss.
They may be advised as to whether Equity pension is available, etc. – not usually the case with smaller companies who can’t afford financing the scheme [although this may have improved in the last 5 years or so]. Often Equity will arrange for a rep. to visit the company on tour – but this seems to be for larger productions only in my experience. In my experience, very few people attend these meetings!
The larger companies are pretty good at helping understudies ‘bed in’, and these productions usually include established actors who know the ropes and make it their business to welcome understudies into the company.
It is the smaller, less well-heeled companies who struggle to provide the above – no Company Manager touring with them, little opportunity, if any, to rehearse, often understudies are expected to operate as tech crew – you really are thrown in at the deep end. But when smaller numbers are involved you tend to settle more quickly.

To be honest, the companies can do just so much – the understudy experience will be dictated far more by the people with whom they are touring.
From my perspective, I think it was more of a challenge trying to integrate – younger actors can assume that you know everything and won’t be interested in socialising with them. I often was in productions with very few women. If you are the sole understudy then you have to work very hard to integrate – much depends on the person you are understudying and whether you enjoy one another’s company. I spent a lot of time in wardrobe and with crew.


My thanks to Connor, Nikki and Janet. I hope that you have found the discussions interesting and that next time you see an understudy playing a role, that you might just give them an extra cheer for helping the show to go on!


If you would like to keep track of understudy appearances there is no better place to go to than West End Understudies which does a great job in keeping us all updated about understudy/cover/swing/standby/alternate performances all across the UK, not just London! Well worth a visit! Find them on Twitter at @WestEndCovers


NB The views of the participants in this article are their own and they retain the copyright for their contributions to this article.


Catching Up with….GIANLUCA LELLO, director of Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography

Gianluca Lello

Gianluca Lello is an award-winning producer and director whose credits have included Associate Directing THEBES LAND at the Arcola and Directing YOUR MOLOTOV KISSES at the Camden Fringe. Completing the MA in Directing based at the Orange Tree, he contributes EIGHT GIGABYTES OF HARDCORE PORNOGRAPHY to this week’s Director’s Festival at the Theatre. Australian writer Declan Greene’s very black comedy about two desperate people searching for a true connection is certainly connecting with audiences who are loving it. It’s strong in every department and a very revealing 60 minutes.

Thanks for taking time to talk with me, Gianluca. Your production of EIGHT GIGABYTES OF HARDCORE PORNOGRAPHY is part of the popular Director’s Festival at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond this week. How did you first become aware of this play?

I came across Declan Greene’s play Moth, which was staged at the Bush Theatre in 2013. I read it, loved it and then set out trying to get my hands on other plays he had written. Paul Miller, the Artistic Director of the Orange Tree, had a copy of Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography. I read it at roughly 2pm on a Friday afternoon. By 4pm that day I had already sent Paul an email asking him to help me get the rights to it.

And what made it “the One” you wanted to choose?

I felt a real connection with the story. 

Each of the characters are so desperate for true connection. Added to that, they are so achingly unfulfilled. You don’t have to fit their specific character brief to realise that we all share the same hopes, desires, feelings of despair and loneliness with modern living. Declan’s work spoke to me on a primal level. And I thought that if it could speak to me like that, then perhaps the same would be true for a wider audience.

Having seen it now, I can say that it’s a pretty stark and searing hour of theatre. It’s by an Australian writer. You often choose work from other countries. Great to hear new voices but why is that so important for you?

I’m a native of nowhere. I grew up as an Italian immigrant in a working class suburb of Sydney. I spoke a different language to the kids in my local area. I was always an outsider.   Now, as an adult, as an immigrant living in the UK, I still feel like an outsider. But I’m delighted to be one. So I suppose that is why I’m drawn to stories that come from the outside. Stories that explore what it’s like to be a human living in the wider world as opposed to a specific time and place.

Set, sound  and lighting are tightly bound together in this show to good effect. How do you work with your team?

It’s important to make your personal taste level very clear. I met with Cory, Chris and Lex a month or so prior to the commencement of rehearsals. We discussed the play, its themes and each of the worlds both characters inhabit. I gave each of them keywords. I spoke about my preference for abstract sets. We discussed initial ideas for sound and lighting. However, I made it very clear that everything would be up in the air until the actors and I made some key discoveries during the rehearsal process. Everything rests on what the actors and I uncover in the rehearsal process. It always , always, always starts and ends with the actors. If an idea does not serve their discoveries, and ultimately their performances, then it is shelved very quickly.

Ultimately, however,  it’s all about giving all creatives working on a production the freedom to explore, go nuts and play around within the parameters you set them. For me Directing is all about managing a team of creative specialists.

“Our audiences have such a black sense of humour. They just don’t stop laughing”

Being a two-hander the play is by its nature very intense. Does that change the way in which you work with the actors?

No. For me there is always one rule above any other. Be nice!

Theatre is collaborative. No one wants to work with a director who isn’t warm and lovely or who is self-serving.

Actors are wonderful. For me the job of a director is to always remain sensitive to the needs of actors. This is a given. And is a fundamental rule of being in my rehearsal room.

With that in mind however, always keep a sense of humour. Silliness, laughter and not taking yourself too seriously means that the actors know that there is a constant state of play in the rehearsal room. And it helps to create a safe space for all.

I was intrigued that in your production the actors speak more with the audience than with each other. Do you have a particular feeling about audiences and their relationship with your work?

It’s not something I’ve ever imposed on a text. It’s usually woven into the fabric of the play I’ve chosen to work on. But I do think that audiences should feel a part of the action.  Theatre is magical and is a space where that is possible.

How have reactions to the show been?

Our audiences have such a black sense of humour. They just don’t stop laughing.

Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography is a black comedy mixed in with being a tragic fable on modern relationships and modern living. And audiences have been so happy to go on that journey with us.

Any that surprised you?

People are as likely to shout out “Oh no!” as they are to laugh out loud.

Anything more you’d like to tell our readers about EIGHT GIGABYTES OF HARDCORE PORNOGRAPHY ?

Cate Hamer and Matthew Douglas give incredible performances. So please buy a ticket for that reason alone.

Thanks for talking with me, Gianluca!


EIGHT GIGABYTES OF HARDCORE PORNOGRAPHY plays Thursday 8th August at 9pm and Saturday 10th August at 7pm at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond. Tickets and information here