February 2018

26 February 2018

Tom Burke: Don Carlos set to be unique theatrical experience

Tom Burke has revealed why he loves the stage and offered a glimpse into what audiences can expect from his theatre company’s first play, Don Carlos – one of the most eagerly awaited productions of the year which opens in Exeter in October.

The actor returned to the screen on Sunday, February 25, as popular detective Cormoran Strike in the latest edition of a BBC series based on the books of Robert Galbraith – better known by her real name name J K Rowling.

Burke, who plays Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa in Don Carlos, an epic tale of passion and power set against the chilling backdrop of the bloody and ruthless Spanish Inquisition, took to the airwaves to talk about playing Strike.

He also explained why he was putting his burgeoning TV career on hold to tread the boards in Schiller’s chilling work and what kind of vision he and director Gadi Roll will bring to the Northcott stage.

The pair last worked together in 2007 in Don Juan Comes Back from the War, a technically outstanding production praised for its staging and its “soaring requiems, resonant sound effects, torches flaming amid the snow and ice”.

Don Juan Comes Back from the War, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

“I started the theatre company (Ara) because I wanted to work with Gadi again,” Burke told Graham Norton.

“He just has a different way of coming at things. We are not really interested in doing naturalistic staging; I suppose that’s perhaps partly because in doing lots of telly I am always doing naturalistic acting.

“His work is very emotional and very emotionally inhabited and just creates a universe which exists within its own parameters, in that respect it is uniquely theatrical and doesn’t feel in any way in competition with telly and film – that’s what excites me in theatre.

Pains of Youth, Belgrade Theatre, by Gadi Roll

“Also I was desperate to do something that was linguistically robust – I do feel like we are losing touch with that a bit as a culture. I feel like I go to theatre to watch characters who are brilliantly and succinctly articulate and it’s like we try and apologise for that sometimes – even when we do classical theatre we turn these great soliloquies into things where we are searching for the word, then finding it and then it’s not the right word so we say it with a defeated shrug. This is all the dead hand of naturalism and realism on the theatre – it’s going to die as an art from if we go too far down that road.”

Burke, 36, also revealed that the name for his new company, which plans to continue producing classical drama as an associate of the Exeter Northcott Theatre, had a very personal connection.

“When you try to come up with names for a theatre company, you go through a whole load that sound like you are trying to come up with the name for a punk band and you think ‘no, no’ because every word has a connotation,” he added.

“Finally it was a word that doesn’t have meaning for anybody though on purely sentimental value it was my grandmother’s sort of nickname, the name that most people knew her by – I think she was given the name Nancy or Nancy Violet and she wasn’t a Nancy much less a Violet and certainly not a shrinking one.

Don Juan Comes Back from the War, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

“I always thought it meant a blessing or a curse, though there is no evidence for that online. She was an amazing woman, who very much wanted to be an actor and even at the end was searching adverts in The Stage for dead bodies in fringe productions.

“When she was in an old people’s home staff would come up to us and ask “Did she really run a bordello in Torquay.”

More information on Don Carlos, including cast members and plans for the staging, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Click here for performances and ticket details

20 February 2018

Last chance to join week-long Easter school for 11 to 14-year-olds

Following the highly successful Easter School in 2017 we are running the initiative again this year and places are going fast.

The week-long residency is open to young people aged between 11 and 14, and will give them the opportunity to work together to explore a play text and devise their own piece of theatre from scratch.

Where? Roborough Studios, University of Exeter Streatham Campus, EX4 4SB.

When? Monday 9th – Friday 13th April 2018. Monday to Thursday 10am – 4pm; Friday 11am – 7pm (with a sharing of work at 6pm for friends and family).

Cost? The full week’s tuition (including an invitation for friends and family to the sharing of work) is £160 per participant.

The week’s tuition will be led by Education & Outreach Officer Lisa Hudson and supported by graduates of the University of Exeter. Lisa has extensive experience of teaching drama, leading workshops and directing young people in a range of creative projects.

Download application form here

For more information or to register your child for the course, please contact Lisa Hudson:
l.hudson@exeter.ac.uk or 01392 722417.

Praise for 2017 Easter School:

“(My son) thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, made some new friends and wants to do it all again! We thought the final production was really impressive. So thank you to you and the team for all your hard work and inspiration” (Parent of 2017 participant).

“My daughter recently attended your Easter School and had an amazing time building on her acting skills and making new friends” (Parent of 2017 participant).

“Just to say thank you for organising and running such a professional experience for the young people. (My son) loved the whole week and has most definitely grown as a person because of this opportunity” (Parent of 2017 participant).

“I really enjoyed the Easter School and met lots of new friends…My favourite day was Friday because we got to put on a performance for our families” (2017 participant).

“Thank you for helping us so much with the play. I would definitely like to do another workshop like this” (2017 participant).

“It was really enjoyable. All the staff were amazing and helped me a lot. I’ll definitely come again” (2017 participant).