NEILSON’S COLUMN (May 19, 2016): Duo give life to a host of characters in Stones in His Pockets

Stones in his Pockets
Stones in his Pockets

It’s 20 years since the first production of Stones in His Pockets, the tragicomedy set in rural Ireland, where a small village is overrun by a Hollywood film crew who are using the village as the location for their feature film.

The play has a cast of only two, but the two actors play all the characters, including Jake and Charlie the extras (background actors), the director of the film, the assistant director and the leading lady; about a dozen characters in all. It is a fantastic example of how to bring a host of characters to life with minimal set, props and cast, which is why we took some of our senior drama students to see it at The Capitol in Horsham last week.

The play is extremely fast-paced, with the two actors switching from character to character, male to female, and back again in the blink of an eye.

This is achieved not only through a change in voice, but also a change in body shape and movement.

It was fascinating to see how intrigued our students were with the piece.

Although sometimes tricky to follow, our students were glued to the action and learned a lot, especially about technique. It is important for anyone in any form of training to see professionals at work, it’s the best way of learning what is expected from you if you are to become a professional yourself.

Contrary to popular belief, theatre is one of the most disciplined professions there is. It takes years of training, dedication and sacrifice to be good and even being good at what you do as an actor is no guarantee of success.

There is no clear route of progression, no clear path of promotion as there is in so many other professions. It’s a tough gig and one that should not be entered into with any high expectations.

Earlier in the month I went to see my friend Andy Walker playing some wonderful jazz at The Dragon pub in Colgate.

His four-piece band, Andy Walker and Friends, play to a standard, which in my opinion is good enough for any professional stage and I’d be happy to perform with these guys anytime. They play The Dragon the first and third Thursday of each month.

If you want to hear great music in a lovely venue, you can’t do much better than this.

Michael Neilson is a Horsham-based actor, singer, dancer and writer, with more than thirty years of professional experience in film, TV, theatre, radio and voice work. Follow him on Twitter @michael_neilson.

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