Tennessee Williams 1947 Pulitzer Prize winning play A Streetcar Named Desire had a hugely acclaimed revival at London’s Donmar Warehouse from July to October in 2009.
It featured Oscar winner Rachel Weisz as the drunken, pretentious Southern belle, Blanche DuBois; Ruth Wilson as her self-effacing sister, Stella Kowalski and Elliot Cowan as Stanley Kowalski, the primal, brutish husband. All three signed for me in September 2009.
The first West End staging starred Vivien Leigh and was directed by her husband Laurence Olivier in 1949.
Both Rachel (Best Actress) and Ruth (Best Supporting Actress) won Olivier awards for their performances.
The Amazing Spider-Man is the fourth instalment in Marvel Comics Spider-Man film series.
Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacy, love interest (both on and off screen) to Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man.
Emma gladly signed my sketch at the Premiere in Leicester Square (at the Odeon) in June 2012. She is set to reprise her role in the sequel.
Her real name is actually ‘Emily’, which her friends and family still call her. She chose the name ‘Emma’ when she registered for the Screen Actors Guild as there was already a listing for a ‘Emily Stone’.
Considered by many as possibly the greatest player of all time, Rod “Rocket” Laver is the only tennis player to win two Grand Slams (1962 and 1969). He signed my caricature at his residence in California in June 1994.
Richard Wilson played Malvolio in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Twelfth Night in 2010, a role which dragged him some way out of the shadow of the nation’s favourite misanthrope Victor Meldrew in the hugely successful sitcom One Foot in the Grave. Virgin territory, playing his first Shakespearean part and donning the yellow stockings to play the puritan steward duped into erotic humiliation.
It transferred to the Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End and Richard signed for me in January 2010 at the stage door, well, more the public pathway on St Martin’s Lane since the stage door is inaccessible.
For the past two years, Hollywood legend Robert Redford has brought his Sundance Film and Music Festival to the O2 in Greenwich, London. On both occasions, the Sundance Kid himself has attended. I was fortunate enough to get a ticket to his Q&A last year and this year he introduced the History of the Eagles doco and the band members themselves. I have not seen or heard that he signs for anyone at the Festival. He politely slipped past us after the Q&A to his waiting limo and this year I didn’t even attempt to ask.
Instead, I did a quick sketch of him and mailed it to his office at the Sundance Resort in Utah. I was told by a seasoned collector the he is a very good signer ‘when round the office’ and that proved to be the case.
‘Hawking’ has been used at the All England Club since 1999 as an ideal environmentally-friendly method of pest control. They use a company called Avian Environmental Consultants, strangely enough. For years, pigeons fluttered onto Wimbledon’s prestige courts, distracting the players and distrupting the world’s premier tennis tournament. Unimpressed by officials flapping their arms around at them, a hawk has been used to scare the pigeons each morning before spectators arrive for the days play. It doesn’t kill the pigeons, but his presence is enough to frighten them away. The Davis family operate the company – not just during the fortnight of the tournament, but they visit every week of the year as pigeons do not register the hawk’s presence in their memories for very long and need regular sightings to keep them roosting at SW19.
There are many businesses that thrive during The Championships, especially in the catering and hospitality areas, but few are prepared to work for scraps and dead mice and quail. Enter Rufus – an American Harrier Hawk and his handler, Imogen Davis. At the 2012 Championships they became somewhat of celebrities when the media highlighted their work and even more so when Rufus was stolen from a car during the first week of the tournament. Pigeons all over London rejoiced, but it was shorlived. After 3 days, he was found and Hawk eye was restored – game,set and match! I drew a quick sketch and sent it to Imogen for signing.
In her films Charlotte Rampling often conveys a sense of severity that is accentuated by her unique beauty: the prominent cheek bones, the narrow mouth, adorned at times by an enigmatic smile and of course those narrow, cat-like eyes whose colour, depending on the light, can vary from green to grey and even yellow.
Meeting her in person is far less forbidding than her films and features suggest. At the rear entrance to the renowned Savoy Hotel in London on a chilly November night in 2010.
Charlotte was a guest presenter at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. In fact, it was too cold to be standing around for any length of time, so I left it to the last possible moment to enter the fray.
My arrival coincided with hers. I did intend to go behind the barriers, but didn’t get time. She stepped out of her car, saw the sketch, signed it then added the inscription when I asked. She smiled and said thank you, I returned the thank you. It was very all very symmetrical and pleasant…. I then had to contend with the hunters and collectors behind the barriers, but that’s another story.
Dame Judi Dench – one of the greatest stage and screen actresses of all time, is also one of the best signers. Her most recent stage performance was as Alice in Peter and Alice at the Noël Coward Theatre in London. There was huge demand for her ‘graph and she always obliged – a real trouper!
I did this quick ‘portrait study’ in March 2010 and dropped it into the Rose Theatre in Surrey, where she was playing Titania as Queen Elizabeth I in A Midsummer Night’s Dream – almost 50 years after she first played the role for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Martin McDonagh’s acclaimed comedy The Cripple of Inishmaan is currently running at the Noel Coward Theatre as a part of Michael Grandage’s five play season with the with the wizard himself, Daniel Radcliffe.
McDonagh’s earlier play The Beauty Queen of Leenane – a black comedy set in a village in County Galway, revolving around a plain, lonely woman in her forties with her first and possibly final chance at love and her manipulative mother who sets about to derail it.
It premiered in 1996 in Galway, then transferred to London’s Royal Court Theatre before an extensive National tour of Ireland, then returning to London’s West End at the Duke of York’s in November 1996. In 1998 it opened off-Broadway, receiving six Tony nominations and winning four.
The play was revived at The Young Vic in London. The excellent cast – Derbhle Crotty, Rosaleen Linehan, Frank Laverty and Johnny Ward all gladly signed my sketch after I saw the afternoon matinée on 31 August 2011
Comedian and writer Catherine Tate appeared in Season’s Greetings at the National Theatre at the end of 2010 and early 2011.
It’s the Alan and Ayckbourn’s 1980 black comedy about a dysfunctional family Christmas. Tate’s character is always flapping about the house and constantly decorating the Christmas Tree.
I remember one time filming Catherine signing at the National Theatre stage door and she said I should have asked her permission, which was a first. However, I apologised but said it was good to see talent taking the time to sign for fans. It was all very convivial, but I decided to leave my Season’s Greeting’s sketch for her to sign and post back, instead of another in-person encounter. That was December 2010. I received it the following October! But better Tate than never.