I can trace my abiding love of theatre, paradoxically, to the cinema -
and to the efforts of my older cousin Stuart to 'civilise' a younger
relative. He took me to see a matinee of Laurence Olivier's film
Henry V when I was ten years old. I emerged, blinking in the
light of a London summer on Oxford Street, with Olivier's tremendous
bombast ringing in my ears. Shortly after, I wrote my first play, not a
word of which do I now remember, though I am sure it included someone
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!"
At school, I took to acting with relish, giving my Bottom in a first year (US Grade 5) class production of the Mechanicals' Play in A Midsummer Night's Dream and auditioning for school productions. My first speaking role in a public performance? The Carpenter in Julius Caesar:
ACT 1 SCENE 1
That was it - one line, along with some fine rhubarbing in crowd scenes and some determined spear-carrying. But, despite skin-rippingly itching fibreglass armour, I was hooked. Each school year that followed, I climbed the ladder of ambition. Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, Pizarro in Royal Hunt of the Sun and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. Exam revision was squeezed between rehearsals. I was hooked.