Sunday, 28 October 2012

Richard Wilson: In Conversation (Festival of Words), 'Straight' interview, local library support

Richard Wilson's secrets from the stage and screen

One of the nation's favourite actors revealed a fascinating insight into his life and career at a special In Conversation event at Sheffield Hallam University on Wednesday evening (17 October).
As part of the Off the Shelf festival of words, Sheffield's long-running literary event, the One Foot in the Grave and Merlin star talked candidly about his career as an actor and his more recent work as an associate director at Sheffield Theatres since 2009.
On 1 November a new play which he has directed, Straight, opens at the Crucible Studio. Straight is based on the American film Humpday, and tells the story of two best friends, Lewis and Waldorf, who make a decision to take part in a film that makes them question their friendship in a whole new light.
On the subject of directing, which Richard began doing after taking improvisation classes, he said: "I'm always looking for new writing.  Rather than take a Shakespeare play and twist it to be about, say, Northern Ireland, why not just write a play about the subject?"
Richard's early career was as a research scientist, and he made the leap to acting at the age of 27, when he moved to London to audition at RADA.
Richard told the audience at the event how lucky he was to get a job as an actor in a version of the TV series, Dr Finlay's Casebook, after completing his course. He said: "I finished RADA on the Friday, and had a television job on the Monday!  I was very lucky in that regard."
Richard’s advice for students looking to embark on a theatre career was to simply go for it, but he also offered a word of caution, saying that acting can be a very unfair profession.
Richard was In Conversation with Sheffield Hallam's director of communications, John Palmer. The event was held at the University as part of the Off the Shelf festival of words.  For more information about other events as part of the festival please visit  Other events are taking place at Sheffield Hallam University, visit for more information.

Source (with audio 'In Conversation with Richard Wilson'): Sheffield University

Wilson plays Straight down the middle
Since being appointed associate director of Sheffield Theatres, Richard Wilson has brought a succession of new or contemporary plays to the Crucible Studio and the latest is Straight.
The comedy by DC Moore is receiving its première in Sheffield and then will transfer to the Bush Theatre in London.
It is based on an American indie film called Humpday in which two college mates agree to a drunken dare that they will, shall we say, get intimate before the cameras in an adult movie.
“Daniel {Evans, Sheffield Theatres artistic director} commissioned David to write a play about sexuality and he had seen the film and thought it would fit the bill and bought the rights.
“I think it’s a better play than the film,” says the director. “It’s funnier, for one thing. It’s interesting in so much as it’s almost farcical at times but when it gets to the nitty gritty it becomes quite serious.”
The play is a lot about relationships, not only male friendships but male-female. One of the men, Lewis, is married, while the other Waldorf has a casual girlfriend, Steph, who is making the film.
“When Waldorf turns up after seven years, Lewis asks him where he is staying and his friend says, ‘Here, at your place,’ because years ago when circumstances were different he promised him that if he needed a place to live he could always come to him. It shows that things can come back to haunt you.”
Once again Richard Wilson finds himself directing a young cast. “That’s because most new plays are written by young people. But I don’t mind that, in fact I like it because older actors can be a little set in their ways,” he observes. “And, of course, it’s exciting when you are discovering new talent.”
As an actor Wilson can currently be seen in the fifth series of Merlin on BBC1, although he only finished on it two weeks ago. “I had to give Merlin two days of this production and go off and do some filming,” he says. “That was agreed beforehand. Merlin has been very handy because it subsidises the other work I do. It’s tough for older actors finding roles and even tougher for older actresses.”
Most of the One Foot in the Grave actor’s other work is directing – next up a play by Richard Bean, Smack Family Robinson, at the Rose Theatre, Kingston – although he is soon off to do a week of lunchtime theatre in Glasgow. He’s appearing with old friend Bill Paterson in something called Astonishing Archie in a programme called A Play, A Pie and A Pint. Sounds the perfect combination.
Straight starts previewing next Thursday, November 1.
Source: Sheffield Telegraph

Actor to perform library ceremony
Veteran actor Richard Wilson will launch the next chapter in the history of his childhood local library.
Wilson, best known for playing Victor Meldrew in the popular BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave, will perform the official opening ceremony for the renovated South West Library, Barr’s Cottage, Greenock on the afternoon of Thursday, 22 November.
John Rushton, Library Operations Team Leader with Inverclyde Libraries, said: “We're delighted Richard has found time in his busy schedule to perform the opening of our recently refurbished branch as this was his local library when he was growing up in Greenock. Free refreshments will be available and we hope people will come along to meet Richard and take a look at the new facilities on offer.”
The library had a £300,000 six-month refurbishment. Work included a new roof and double-glazing; complete redecoration with new bookshelves, counter and furniture.
There is now a state-of-the-art learning zone with interactive whiteboard; more public access computers with free wi-fi; a bright comfortable children's area; young adult area with study space; a coffee machine and comfortable seating. An induction loop is also provided for the benefit of people with hearing difficulties.
Source: Inverclyde Now

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