Matthew plays Benedict Weller in our upcoming production Boy On A Bed
As I write this it’s just 9 days to go before opening night of Boy On A Bed. It’s taken 6(ish) weeks, 4 Actors plus a Director, Stage Manager and Designer but we’re pretty much on track I think (I hope). No, we are, (we are!) its going well and to date has been an incredibly enjoyable experience.
I was first aware of the play via Facebook and after applying for the role of Benedict was invited to the audition open day, but due to a few issues I couldn’t attend. I did email to apologise though and enquired if there was any other auditions planned and was invited in the following Monday. I knew I was auditioning for Benedict, the part I felt was best fit for, but when the panel also asked me to read for Taylor I thought why not. Now, I had read the whole script before the audition (true fact) but in hindsight had perhaps only skim-read some sections. However, I felt I was answering honestly when, after my Estuary-English performance of Taylor I was asked whether I’d read the whole script. ‘Yes’ I replied, ‘I enjoyed it’ to which Alastair (Director) responded. ‘OK, well…you do know Taylor is…American?’ (Dramatic pause) ‘Yes’ I continued, uncertainly, clutching desperately for ideas ‘but…I just thought…I’d try it with a different spin?’ I think I got away with it, but regardless, when Gayle, the producer rang me a few days later to offer me the role of Benedict I was very pleased.
Playing a gay man is a challenge I haven’t faced before as a straight actor but I was certain I didn’t want to put any clichéd affectations on Benedict and have been pleased that Alastair by and large has agreed with me on this. Benedict is played without any thoughts to his sexuality from me – the words I feel are enough to carry any message needed and I feel this has worked well in my development of Benedict. He is an artist, pursuing his dream (and a playa) ultimately, regardless of his sexuality and I think this has been the best choice for me in developing the role. (His slightly laconic, slightly sarcastic, playful cockiness wasn’t much of a challenge though to people who know me…) Jokes aside though I have found working on Benedict an interesting challenge, one I am still enjoying working on and one I hope will be fully formed, exciting and multi-layered by opening night.
The rehearsal process up to now has been a generally fun and exciting experience with Alastair introducing little games and ideas to help us negotiate the text and our characters which have been very useful. I think as a cast we all get on really well and this has helped – especially as a lot of the scenes rely on an intimacy and comfortableness between the characters which is becoming more and more natural as we become closer as a unit. It was also good meeting the writer, Edwin a few weeks back, who was very complementary on the performances as we had them and helped to alleviate any issues we may have had with the script and development of roles.
We’ve still a long way to go before we open but with us now all off book (just about!) then the fun really begins as we can now experiment and play about with things, which is always an interesting and valuable element in a play’s creation – and come the 15th I’ve no doubt that we’ll have an extremely exciting piece of theatre on our hands. So come and see it.
To see the tour dates and book tickets for Boy On A Bed, visit our website.