Rosamund Pike

rosamund pike

British actress and former Bond girl Rosamund Pike played the titular heroine and one of theatre’s most dramatic roles in the touring production of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler in 2010.

It’s the tale of the newly wedded daughter of an aristocratic general who struggles with an existence she finds devoid of excitement and enchantment. It’s often considered the role for actresses that Hamlet is for male actors.

“Pike sizzles with electrifying energy, gripped by a mania of discontent,” said The Guardian. Critic Charles Spencer said Rosamund’s performance was, “a dangerous, glamorous allure that is deeply thrilling.”

Rosamund signed this quick black fine liner sketch at the Richmond Theatre in March 2010.

The F Word

gordon ramsay

My culinary curiosity continues. This time it’s Chef from “Hell” Gordon Ramsay. His TV programmes, including Hell’s Kitchen, Hotel Hell, The F Word and Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares have made him a household name. In fact, it was his shows that cemented my interest in cooking and celebrity chefs.

Gordon’s restaurants have been awarded 15 Michelin stars. His signature establishment restaurant ‘Gordon Ramsay’ has held 3 Michelin Stars since 2001.

Gordon has become famous for his use of expletives and fiery temper – a reputation built upon his goal of culinary perfection and probably influenced by previous mentors, including the equally pugnacious Marco Pierre White. But on my sketch I got the other four letter word, so I guess he liked it.

My Perfect Mind

my perfect mind

The Guardian labelled the two man show My Perfect Mind, “an exquisite piece of tomfoolery”. Performed by Paul Hunter and Olivier Award winner Edward Petherbridge, it has just finished a four week run at London’s Young Vic as part of a UK tour. It is inspired by Edward’s experience of not playing Lear.

In 2007, Edward travelled to Wellington in New Zealand to fulfil his long cherished ambition to play Shakespeare’s King Lear. Two days into rehearsal he suffered a stroke that left him partially paralysed. Remarkably, he was still able to remember every world of the mad monarch.

It’s played on a disorientating tilted stage in a world that’s off kilter and difficult to physically negotiate. The title is from Lear’s most chilling line “I fear I am not in my perfect mind”. It is a very funny piece mixed with the fact that we are all heading, like Lear, towards our own private struggle sot maintain perfect mind.

It’s a show that invokes the ghosts of Petherbridge’s childhood, the ghosts of all those actors who have played Lear and the ghost of the performance that Edward never got to give.

Paul plays a variety of characters who have figured in Petherbridge’s life, including Lord Olivier, the actor’s mother (herself a stroke victim) and the Fool to his Lear. He signed my sketch going in, but I missed Edward. Waiting at the lower stage door, (the Young Vic has at least two) I missed him again after the performance. He and left via the upper stage door since the play is performed in the upper auditorium. Paul told me he was eating at an Italian restaurant over the road and assured me he wouldn’t mind the intrusion.

It’s not my usual practice, stalking people when they are eating, but, more in my left mind I did. I apologised. “You expected the entrée, not a fool with a drawing”. He graciously signed it, while I kept apologising to him and his companions.

Tim Walker in his five star review in The Telegraph said of Edward, “… has acquired a tremendous sense of majesty that makes him a magnetic stage presence: I sincerely hope he may yet get to play Lear and deliver the lines that remain so stubbornly in his head”…. or at least finish his post-show Italian dinner without interruption by a theatrical scribbler.

Genevieve O’Reilly

gen o'reilly

Irish-Australian actress Genevieve O’Reilly played the love interest opposite Ben Barnes in Trevor Nunn‘s stage version of Sebastian Faulk’s harrowing WWI novel Birdsong at London’s Comedy Theatre at the end of 2010

It follows the fortunes of Stephen Wraysford who is sent to Northern France to stay with a factory owner and has an affair with the owner’s wife Isabelle. Six years later he returns to fight in the trenches in the same fields where he fell in love.

In an Evening Standard interview Ben commented on the ‘velvety texture’ to Genevieve’s voice, which is Irish overlaid with a hint of Adelaide, where she grew up from the age of ten.

She had worked with Trevor before on the acclaimed 2005 production of Richard II playing the Queen to Kevin Spacey‘s Richard. Film Fans will probably best remember he as Dash MacKenzie in Avatar or Mon Mothma in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Al Pacino

al pacino

I drew this portrait of Al Pacino as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice in 2011. Actually, I drew a couple of sketches of him in the New York production. One I posted, but never came back. This one sat in my bag folder I carry daily, along with other numerous drawings of possible luminaries I might come across. Last Sunday he was at London’s BFI for the screening of Salome (the film) and WIld Salome (the doco). I was not optimistic as I positioned myself in a pen with a pen sat the beginning of the red carpet.

He made his Broadway debut in Don Petersen’s Does A Tiger Wear A Necktie? at the Belasco Theater on Februry 25, 1969. Although it closed after 39 performances Al received rave reviews, winning the Tony Award.

Al played the Bard’s ruthless Venetian Jewish money lender in the summer of 2010 in a Shakespeare in the Park production of The Merchant of Venice. It transferred to the Broadhurst Theater in October and continued there until February 2011, with Al being nominated for another Tony.

He can be difficult to get a ‘graph from because everyone wants him, and if you do get one, it can be unrecognisable. He’s very quick. The customary ‘Al’ has many variations, especially when you’re caught up in the maelstrom that surrounds Alfredo James Pacino.

A climate change protest in Central London grid-locked the traffic, including Al’s car. We were warned he will be late, will do press and go in… but never fear, he will come back to sign. All that happened, but not necessarily  in that order. He would talk to media, then slip over to the baying crowd and sign a bit.

On one such sortie, he came down the line to me, but it was mayhem and he pulled away to head back to the press. He then noticed my sketch and came back, took it and signed a great ‘Al’ on it, gave me the thumbs up, handed it back and moved back to the media scrum. My folder was one sheet lighter and my collection now included one of the greastest actors of our time.

Maria

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova won her fifth Grand Slam title this year, beating Simona Halep in three sets in the French Open final at Roland Garros. In a match lasting three hours, it was the first time since 2001 that a third set was contested, and it was described as one of the best women’s finals in recent years.

By winning the 2012 French open she became only the sixth woman in the Open Era to complete the Career Grand Slam in singles. Maria also won the silver medal at the London Olympics in the same year.

She won Wimbledon as a 17 year old in 2004, the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008. Maria has been forced out of the game twice due to shoulder injuries. Between late 2008 until May 2009 she did not play, but came back to win the French Open in 2012. After her second layoff in mid 2013 she once again rebounded to win the 2014 French Open. She was also runner up in the intervening year.

Maria’s game is based on power so her preferred surfaces early in her career were the fast playing hard and grass courts. Initially the slower clay courts such as Roland Garrros did not suit her. She once described her self as a “cow on ice” on the ‘red dirt’ due to her ability to slide. Since her injury it’s now her best surface, winning 9 out of her last 11 titles on it.

Joan Baez

joan baez

Joan Baez is the world’s best known female folk singer. She defined the American folk music boom in the 1960s, has influenced nearly every aspect of popular music ever since, and is still going strong. Being a life long pacifist and activist gives greater meaning to her music and lyrics.

“You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live”.

In a Guardian interview in 2006 by her own admission she only had two real hits; ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ and ‘Diamonds and Rust’ but the music was always less important to her than the message, since walking on stage at the Newport Folk Festival in 1959 as an 18 year old. Since then she has not been in entertaining people so much as  moving them, making them feel “true to the spirit of the times”. Early in her career she played traditional folk music, adding political songs to her repertoire during the 1960s  decade of civil rights, advocating peace during the Vietnam War and social change. “I went to jail for 11 days for disturbing the peace. I was trying to disturb the war”

Joan played London’s Royal Albert Hall for four nights last week in what reviewers called, “a remarkable show that earned her a standing ovation”. I grew up listening to her music on the ‘wireless’ and my parents’ vinyl 45s . I was a nice moment to finally meet her. Most performers arrive at the Artists’ Entrance in flash, chauffeur driven cars, Joan arrived in a  cab. When I asked her if she wouldn’t mind signing my sketch she looked at it and said, “you’ve been busy”. Not half as busy as her and she’s still going strong.