Meet the Company – Actor, James Ronan

S

What We Have Been / What We May Be

Time to speak to James Ronan, who made his Bard debut in 2014 as Cassio in Othello and a brilliant Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing.

 

1. When, where and what was your first encounter with Bard in the Botanics?

My first encounter was in the library at school where they left newspapers and I remember reading a review…..i think it may have been for Othello….not 100% sure and I just remembered the name it stuck in my head somehow….and then I ended up working for Bard on another production of Othello! I may of course be wrong, it could have been a different show entirely but it sounds a bit poetic so left’s not delve into the facts too much!

 

2. Who would you describe as an unsung hero of Bard in the Botanics?

Carys Hobbs!!!! Carys is like a one woman army! She takes over the library in the Botanics and either makes from scratch or sources all the costumes for everything! On Much Ado she had soooo much to do and just got on with it, without ever seeming to flag or get grumpy and produced amazing results. She has strong ideas but is open to your suggestions (something which runs through all the core team at Bard) so it’s the best way of working really. Everyone brings so much to the table but is open to the thoughts and input of others so everyone is invested and gets along!

 

3. Which individual performance by an actor has made a particularly lasting impression on you (it might be one that you saw, worked with or was in a production you were involved with)?

God it’s very hard to say – I was surrounded by wonderful actors from the moment I got there. It was lovely seeing someone like George Docherty investing 3 different characters with finesse and minimum of fuss, Kirk Bage really rise to a part of the great complexity of Iago, Louise McCarthy and Jen Dick being incredibly bold and brave in very different ways and of course Nicole Cooper breaking every heart in the audience every night. What I really wish is that I had seen other performances in Julius Caesar as there were these wonderful actors I’d heard about but never had the opportunity to see! Also it was lovely to work with some of the younger actors on placements and seeing them grow over the course of the run and rehearsal period, some stars in the making!

 

4. Of your own work, what is the most fulfilling production you’ve been a part of?

For me I loved doing Much Ado – it’s a play filled with love and contradiction and moments of momentous choice. Also the production managed to take the play and plug it directly into a feeling of the here and now which was special and really helped it to engage with the audience on a visceral level it mightn’t otherwise have had. I still have nightmares about the performances where I was sub-par but it is definitely the most wonderful experience I have had playing a part, I have been better but I have never cared more about what I was doing.

 

5. Which Bard in the Botanics production or performance did you miss that you wish you’d seen?

Ah already answered that one! Julius Caesar – it was such a shame to have missed seeing Tim and Paul at work and Jen as a director! But it meant we didn’t miss a show of Much Ado which would have made me feel much worse so I guess I cant complain!

 

6. Which costume (of yours or someone else’s) would you most like to have worn or is simply your favourite?

Jen’s costume as the Duck-face (sorry Duchess was pretty great!) and I quite liked the Military dress uniform I got to wear at the end of Much Ado, but nothing beats wearing a Beavis and Butthead tshirt in a 400 yr old play and getting away with it – well done Carys again!

 

7. What is your favourite spot in the Botanics Gardens, known or unknown?

Well Centre stage of course!!!! There are many but I’ll keep those private – anywhere where you can listen or observe unknown I guess….which makes me sound a little creepyt!!! but I mean it in the sense that there’s something magical about being in a play and waiting to come on and watching the action and watching the audience watch it….any place like that is always great.

 

8. Bard in the Botanics has staged 24 of Shakespeare’s plays. Which of the titles we haven’t yet produced are you most excited about being staged?

Coriolanus, Love’s Labours Lost, King John, Richard II are the ones that stand out for me filled to the brim with wonderful language! But I also want to see Gordon do Merry Wives – I think it will be brilliant when he does!

Early Bird Ticket Offer for Bard 2014!

Facebook-BITB_2014_cover

Early Bird Ticket Offer

  

2014 sees Bard in the Botanics stage its most ambitious and exciting season ever, featuring brand new productions of:

  • The Comedy of Errors

  • Henry IV

  • Henry V

  • Hamlet

 

We want to make sure that as many people as possible can enjoy this summer’s performances so we’ve introduced an Early Bird Ticket Offer, with 170 tickets for The Comedy of Errors and Henry V on sale for just £5.

Our £5 tickets are currently available for the following dates:

The Comedy of Errors – Fri 27th – Sat 28th June

Thurs 3rd July

Sat 5th July

Wed 9th – Sat 12th July

Henry V – Fri 18th – Sat 19th July

Thurs 24th – Sat 26th July

Wed 30th July – Sat 2nd August

But hurry if you want to take advantage of this offer, there are only 10 tickets available at this price for each of the above dates!

You can book online through our website at www.bardinthebotanics.co.uk or ring the Citizens Theatre box office on 0141 429 0022.

And remember, this is a first-come, first-served offer – the early bird catch the £5 tickets – so don’t delay!

N.B. Our usual refund policy applies to these discounted tickets. If the performance you are booked for is cancelled, your tickets will be eligible for a refund or will be valid for any other performance of the same title.

Meet the Company – Associate Artist, Kirk Bage

Jaques, Touchstone and Audrey

What We Have Been / What We May Be

Interview with Associate Artist, Kirk Bage, Kirk is one of the company’s core ensemble of actors and has worked with Bard in the Botanics since our first year. Most recently he played Iago in Othello and Mark Antony in Julius Caesar.

 

1. When, where and what was your first encounter with Bard in the Botanics?

I auditioned for Gordon Barr for an Autumn production of The Duchess of Malfi, set in the graveyard of the Ramshorn Church, Glasgow in 2002. I believe it may have been part of the West End Festival, but I can’t be 100% on that 12 years on! (Editors Note: It was part of The Merchant City Festival in September – lovely cold weather for an outdoor performance!)  The company was then exclusively known as Glasgow Repertory Company and I remember being very impressed by everyone involved, how passionate they were about the work, and how quickly they could produce a work of such merit.  I was desperate to be part of the main Summer season and was thrilled be asked to take part the following year, with roles in Measure For Measure and Antony & Cleopatra, as well as a now semi-legendary French Soldier in Scott Palmer’s Henry V.

 

2. Who would you describe as an unsung hero of Bard in the Botanics?

Without a doubt, much praise is due to every member of the stage management over the years, achieving miracles, keeping us safe, dealing with tantrums, working the longest hours and generally being the most fun in the pub afterwards – but that’s going to be a popular answer.  Above all I think the unsung heroes of Bard in the Botanics are the paying public who have stayed faithful and returned year after year, despite many wet spells, to support the shows with great enthusiasm and knowledge. It’s always nice to meet a patron who can rattle a list of their favourite Bard in the Botanics productions.

 

3. Which individual performance by an actor has made a particularly lasting impression on you (it might be one that you saw, worked with or was in a production you were involved with)?

So many to choose from, but I have to go with the award winning performance of Stephen Clyde in A Midsummer Night’s Dream a few years ago. I went back to see the show 3 times and was blown away by the ideas and timing involved in that performance, which I think is the funniest thing I have ever seen on a stage that wasn’t a stand-up comedian! I would have felt self conscious laughing so hard if it hadn’t been for everyone else in the audience doing the same. A true poke in the eye for anyone who thinks Shakespeare has to be dry and serious. Borderline genius.

 

4. Of your own work, what is the most fulfilling production you’ve been a part of?

They have all been rewarding, and educational, in their own way, every one of them.  Scott Palmer’s Richard III in 2004 will always remain special to me as it was probably the first time I truly understood every word and moment in a Shakespeare play. The amazing ensemble were brave in tackling the humour head on and I felt incredibly supported and privileged  to be playing the iconic lead at such a young age. It paved the way to all future work I’ve done with the company and prepared me for all the future challenges I would face. Gordon Barr’s As You Like It from 2012 also sticks out for different reasons, as I could have played the character of Jacques all day every day (I still use the incredible All The World’s a Stage speech in a lot of auditions) and I think we painted some beautiful pictures in that play. As an all round experience though, I would have to say last season’s production of Julius Caesar, adapted and directed by Jennifer Dick; a small, super smart, super talented, hard working cast, many many challenges to bring the script to life, the challenge of the extremely hot and humid, but beautiful Kibble Palace and an audience feedback that surpasses anything else I’ve ever felt as an actor. Very special.

 

5. Which Bard in the Botanics production or performance did you miss that you wish you’d seen?

Everything from 2007 to 2009 really. Macbeth with Paul Cunningham, Taming of the Shrew with Jennifer Dick, etc, etc. There’ll always be part of me that regrets missing that phase of the company’s history. I also regret I could only watch Hamlet in 2011 once – I was performing simultaneously in Pericles in the Kibble Palace, but could have watched Paul Cunningham and Nicole Cooper in that production many many times.

 

6. Which costume (of yours or someone else’s) would you most like to have worn or is simply your favourite?

I’ve had some good ones, and also some shockers! I never particularly think I wear costumes well, so it’s not something I dwell on, but Jacques’ togs were very comfortable and like a second skin, so I’d say that of my own. But really it has to be any of the gorgeous dresses worn by the ladies in any number of shows, the sisters in King Lear and Nicole Cooper as Ophelia in Hamlet, and again in last year’s Othello, together with Jennifer Dick’s two costumes in the same play, stick most in my mind.

 

7. What is your favourite spot in the Botanics Gardens, known or unknown?

Outside the White House. Waiting outside there in all weathers, cloud watching, in all moods, before shows, after shows, nervous, elated, deflated, worried, proud, expectant – that spot is Bard in the Botanics for me! The plants and stuff are ok too.

 

8. Bard in the Botanics has staged 24 of Shakespeare’s plays. Which of the titles we haven’t yet produced are you most excited about being staged?

Richard II.  A sublime play.  I can’t wait…

Meet the Company – Associate Director, Jennifer Dick

Brutus and Portia (Julius Caesar 2013)

What We Have Been / What We May Be

Interview with Associate Director, Jennifer Dick

 

Today it’s the turn of Associate Director, Jennifer Dick, to take a wander down memory lane and consider “what we have been” at Bard in the Botanics

 

1. When, where and what was your first encounter with Bard in the Botanics?

Jen: The short answer is that I was an actor involved in the very first season, playing Phebe in As You Like It and Caliban in The Tempest, so I was there from the very, very beginning. Or even before then, I helped out at initial fundraisers, performing extracts of Puck and Lady Macbeth.

 

2. Who would you describe as an unsung hero of Bard in the Botanics?

Jen: Well, I hope that we would loudly sing the praises of everyone who works for us but I guess that in terms of the public eye, the unsung heroes would be our Stage Managers – people like Sam Ramsay, Kay Hesford, Suzy Goldberg etc. They have been an incredible and huge and important part of Bard in the Botanics but their work and their contribution isn’t always seen by the public. While our actors and our designers will get public acclaim for what they do, these are the people who don’t necessarily get the public plaudits for their work,

 

3. Which individual performance by an actor has made a particularly lasting impression on you (it might be one that you saw, worked with or was in a production you were involved with)?

Jen: That’s a very difficult question for me because I’ve seen lots of amazing performances but honestly where my head went to first there was Paul Cunningham as Hamlet. He was the actor I wanted to play the role from the very early stages of wanting to do the play and I thought he brought such humanity and eloquence and wit and sexiness and charisma to that part. I always remember the moment in the scene at Ophelia’s grave when he shouted “I loved Ophelia” – it got to me every time I watched it.

 

4. Of your own work, what is the most fulfilling production you’ve been a part of?

Jen: I’m going to answer this doubly, as both an actor and director, and oddly enough both productions were in the same season, probably because the more I work, the better at it I get. So my most fulfilling Bard in the Botanics production as a director is Julius Caesar because I think it’s my most realised work in terms of what I wanted it to be and how it turned out, which were very close. Also, because despite it being a very serious, intense piece, we laughed so hard in rehearsals – we worked really hard but we had such an amazing time and the fact that it found an audience and made such a connection with him is all you can wish for any work you create.

 

And as an actor, I would say playing Emilia in Othello. I felt like I got to a place in my acting that I hadn’t got to before where I felt like it was fresh and new every night. Every time that I did it I trusted it enough to let it live every night – not that it was massively different every time I did it but just that it was in the moment and it’s the first time that I felt completely in the moment throughout a whole performance.

 

5. Which Bard in the Botanics production or performance did you miss that you wish you’d seen?

Jen: I think there’s only 1 – no, 2 productions that I didn’t get to see. One was 2003’s Much Ado About Nothing with the wonderful Sarah Chalcroft as Beatrice which I didn’t get to see because I was in Antony & Cleopatra at the same time. And the other was The Taming of the Shrew in 2004, which starred Kirk Bage as Petruchio and Candice Edmunds as Kate (Candice, who’s now better known as Artistic Director of Vox Motus Theatre Company). I’ve heard brilliant things about both shows but I think I especially would have liked to see The Taming of the Shrew on a particular night when one actor (who shall remain nameless!) looped a scene two or possibly even three times, to the hilarity of the actors and possibly the audience too so I think I would have liked to be there to witness that.

 

6. Which costume (of yours or someone else’s) would you most like to have worn or is simply your favourite?

Jen: This is dead easy for me. When I was in Othello last year, I played Emilia but also the Duchess of Venice in Act One and I had a rather wonderful Elizabethan costume topped off with the most incredible red suede, full length swishy coat and, believe me, all actors will know what I mean when I say there is nothing better than a swishy coat to do swishy coat acting with. I loved that coat and actually probably it will end up finding its way in to my wardrobe.

 

 

7. What is your favourite spot in the Botanics Gardens, known or unknown?

Jen: That’s really hard because I love the Botanic Gardens – they feel like my home – but my favourite spot for performing is the space we currently use a lot which is not the most beautiful place in the gardens (it backs up against the end of a glasshouse) but you can combine in it a large audience with all the stuff that’s great about working outdoors – I feel that in that space you can really draw the audience in, even a very large audience in. My favourite spot just to be in and where I will go and eat a picnic or read a book is up at the top of the gardens, in the rose garden. There’s a little enclosed space there that’s mostly hedged off and it’s very quiet and very peaceful and a lovely place to sit and enjoy a book or some nice food from Waitrose.

 

8. Bard in the Botanics has staged 24 of Shakespeare’s plays. Which of the titles we haven’t yet produced are you most excited about being staged?

Jen: I’m going to say as an addendum to this that we’re working from a canon that includes 38 titles so we’re not including the disputed titles like Cardenio or Edward III. In terms of the plays we haven’t yet staged, I’m excited to see them all make their Bard in the Botanics debut but especially  Coriolanus because I love it (one of the very first speeches I ever learnt from Shakespeare was one of Volumnia’s). Richard II I also love and think is a really beautiful play. King John I only recently discovered through a production at the RSC which really split opinion but which I thought was brilliant so I’m excited to see what we do with that one. So those and many more – I can’t possibly narrow it down to one.

 

Meet the company – Artistic Director, Gordon Barr

The Merchant of Venice 2008

What We Have Been / What We May Be

Interview with Artistic Director, Gordon Barr

 

This is the first of a series of interviews with key Bard in the Botanics staff about their experiences over the past 12 years – hope you enjoy revisiting some of our memories from years gone by and finding out a bit more about us all.

 

 1. When, where and what was your first encounter with Bard in the Botanics? 

Gordon: I was chaperoning for Scottish Opera with one of the founding members of Bard in the Botanics who told me that Scott Palmer was creating this festival so my first proper encounter with the company was helping to pour drinks at a fundraiser in the Kibble Palace before the first season, which began a conversation with Scott about directing for the company and led to me being Bard’s very first Emerging Artist in 2002.

 

2. Who would you describe as an unsung hero of Bard in the Botanics? 

Gordon: Definitely the Stage Management team and for a very specific reason – the fact that they are the other people involved in the decision to cancel a show in the event of rain, alongside me. And me on a cancellation night is not the easiest person to be around – it’s never a decision we want to make and it’s never an easy decision to make and the Stage Management are incredibly supportive of helping to make that decision with me or, occasionally, even over-ruling me when there are safety concerns. Not an easy task and one they do brilliantly.

 

3. Which individual performance by an actor has made a particularly lasting impression on you (it might be one that you saw, worked with or was in a production you were involved with)?

Gordon: Oh gosh, I could say any one of about a hundred but I’m deliberately going to choose a performance from a show I didn’t direct, one which made a huge impact on me just seeing it, rather than helping to shape it and it’s Nicole Cooper as Ophelia in 2011’s Hamlet. Nicole is an incredible actor and I could have picked any of her performances – Rosalind or Viola or Helena – but it was the way that she managed to take a role that can be a bit “wet” and turn it into someone who was an equal to Hamlet and who went on her own, very sad journey, paralleling his story rather than being subservient to it. Plus, she made me cry every time I saw her play it – which is not an easy thing to do.

 

4.Of your own work, what is the most fulfilling production you’ve been a part of? 

Gordon: Aggghh! This is so difficult but I think I’m going to back in time a little bit for this one. I nearly answered my most recent production, Much Ado About Nothing, which was so personal to me and so joyous to create and connected so strongly to the audience, despite a central twist that could have put people off. But I’m going back to what I consider the first production of my “second phase” at Bard in the Botanics because for the first few years of running the company and directing shows, I was in a constant state of panic and I think the first time I really felt like I’d taken a show by the throat and taken it to somewhere unexpected was The Merchant of Venice in 2008. I had a brilliant cast who just wanted to dig deeper and deeper into that very complicated and thorny play and who wanted to make the characters real, even if that meant they were unlikeable and to follow me on a journey that took the play quite far away from comedy and into darker, very fulfilling territory. In fact it’s become a template for how I direct shows ever since.

 

5.Which Bard in the Botanics production or performance did you miss that you wish you’d seen?

Gordon: There are only 2 productions in the history of Bard in the Botanics which I never got to see, both because randomly in our early years I kept ending up on stage, despite not being an actor. One was Measure for Measure in 2003 and the other was Macbeth in 2004. Of those two, the one I definitely wish I’d seen was Macbeth because of the central pairing of David Ireland as Macbeth and Jennifer Dick as Lady Macbeth. It annoys me that I never got to see Jennifer’s Lady Macbeth because she is an incredibly powerful actor (as well as a brilliant director) and I’m sure it was an amazing performance. Also, David Ireland has always been a favourite actor of mine, even though he is now principally a playwright (and a fantastic one too) so I wish I had seen those two playing those particular roles.

 

 6. Which costume (of yours or someone else’s) would you most like to have worn or is simply your favourite? 

Gordon: This is another nightmare question for me because I love costume. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with costumes, especially trying them on if I’m ever left alone in the wardrobe room – which I’m not allowed to do anymore. And our current costume designer, Carys Hobbs, has come up with so many amazing costumes in her time with Bard in the Botanics but I’m going to go for a real blast from the past here with what might have been the first costume ever made for Bard in the Botanics – Lavinia’s costume in Kabuki-Titus (a Kabuki theatre version of Titus Andronicus). It was a beautiful white kimono with incredible feather details and these red gloves that had hundreds of red ribbons sewn on to them so that when Lavinia loses her hands, the actor, Johanne Scoular, could throw her arms wide and these ribbons would pour out. It was stunning visual image, especially at 11.30 p.m. at night in the Kibble Palace where that show first played.

 

 7. What is your favourite spot in the Botanics Gardens, known or unknown? 

Gordon: I’m going to cheat a little bit on the answer to this. I will include a spot in the gardens as my answer but what makes this spot special is the particular time when I’m there. It’s the main path of the Botanic Gardens but especially being on that path at the end of the season, after the very last performance, when all the actors have headed over to Oran Mor for a celebratory pint and even the stage management have finished and left. So I’ll often be the last person to leave the Botanic Gardens and I love to stand on the path, in the pitch black since it’s usually about midnight, and have a quiet moment to reflect on the season and what we’ve achieved – and often the resident fox will pop out to say goodbye. It’s always a special moment.

 

8. Bard in the Botanics has staged 24 of Shakespeare’s plays. Which of the titles we haven’t yet produced are you most excited about being staged? 

Gordon: I’m slightly wary about answering this question because, as Artistic Director, it slightly implies that my choice will happen soon which it may not – there are lots of factors involved in choosing when a play gets staged at Bard in the Botanics. But that said there is one title I’ve been saying I’ll do for about the past 10 years which is Love’s Labours Lost. I think the final scene of that play is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing he ever created – the shock of what happens in that scene always chokes me up. And it’s a perfect outdoor show – it’s set outdoors – the Botanic Gardens are an ideal setting for it. I just need to work out how to afford the ensemble cast of 18 it requires!

© Copyright Bard in the Botanics - Designed by northedge