It’s not my birthday, but it is nearly Christmas…. faint reason to post this today, but I liked it and the lovely Kara Tointon. Vaguely interestingly enough this is the only drawing signed on my actual birthday, which is in April. Kara was appearing in Alan Ayckbourne’s ABSENT FRIENDS at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2012 and I was getting a cast sketch signed at the same time.
One of the other collectors happened to mention it was their birthday that day and were given tickets to see the play. Heaven knows why I piped up and said it was mine as well and I only have this sketch. But I did. She was signing it at the time and wrote this message on it.
As you may have realised drawing sketches and then getting them signed takes time. Hanging around stage doors in all weather conditions is part of the package. There are a variety of things one can do to pass the time, not all of them worthwhile. Sometimes I get out my little A5 Ryman’s sketch pad and start employing my trusty 4B clutch pencil.
On one such occasion on a balmy summer’s evening, while waiting for Kristin Scott Thomas, Lia Williams and Rufus Sewell to emerge after a performance of BETRAYAL at the Comedy Theatre to sign a cast drawing, I drew this quick portrait of Kristin… manners, Dame Kristin, although she wasn’t a Dame then in 2011. She kindly signed and dedicated both renderings for me.
“The instant I saw the photograph my mouth fell open and my pulse began to race.”
This is the second drawing I did of Nicole Kidman as scientist Rosalind Franklin who cracked the DNA code in Anna Ziegler’s PHOTOGRAPH 51, which has just completed its run at London’s Noel Coward Theatre. Her much anticipated return to the West End won her the Evening Standard Award for Best Actress at this week’s award ceremony.
As you can imagine large crowds gathered after each evening performance for Nicole so it was a bit of a mission to get near let alone get anything signed. She was very accommodating but her signature was mostly the quick abbreviated version which is better than nothing at all.
The wonderful Jenny Galloway is currently playing Mrs G in the West End transfer of MR FOOTE’S OTHER LEG at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. The double Lawrence Olivier Award winner’s character, Mrs Garner was described by The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish as a ‘fibbertigibbet’… a word that had not registered in my vocabulary bank until now. It is a Middle English word for a ‘flighty or whimsical person’ or in more contemporary times, slang for ‘gossipy or over-talkative’.
Jenny’s long and distinguished stage career includes the role of Madame Thenardier in LES MISERABLES on both the West End and Broadway boards and the 10th and 25th Anniversary performances. She can also be heard on the cast recording of the show as well as OLIVER!, MAMMA MIA! and MARY POPPINS.
Jenny’s versatility came to the fore at the Haymarket stage door in the pouring rain a few nights ago when I asked her to sign this sketch. I held the drawing and she worked the sharpie pen while holding my umbrella… a real trooper, as they say in show business and not a drop of H2O on the paper.
Thanks to the kindness of our friends Richard and Graham, Frankie and I enjoyed an excellent evening at the Theatre Royal Haymarket a couple of weeks ago to see one of the best plays in the West End at the moment, MR FOOTE’S OTHER LEG.
With the brilliant Simon Russell Beale in the lead role as the trailblazing Georgian actor,playwright, theatre manager, cross-dressing comic and ‘consummate wag’ Samuel Foote, supported by an equally brilliant cast including Dervla Kirwan, Joseph Milson and Micah Balfour the entertainment of the highest order was assured.
Ian Kelly’s play, based on the biography of the same name premiered at the Hampstead Theatre earlier this year under the direction of Richard Eyre, before transferring, appropriately to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, the very venue that Foote owned, securing the Royal patent. Described as the ‘Oscar Wilde of the 18th Century’, Samuel Foote lost a leg to a riding accident, but didn’t lose his desire to stay on stage. “The show must hop on!” His name fitted (oh the irony!) his fate.
He became more reckless and his entrepreneur career abruptly ended with accusations of sodomy. This sketch featuring Simon, Dervla, Joseph and Micah was baptized with London’s autumnal rains as I managed to get all four to sign it after two attempts at the uncovered stagedoor. Obviously Mr Foote didn’t think of us graphemes back in his day.
Last but by no means least on my series from this week’s ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena is the arguably the greatest player of all time, the one and only Roger Federer.
Although losing to Novak Djokovic in last night’s final, he did beat the World #1 three times this year, including a comprehensive victory in pool play at this year’s event. At 34 he shows no signs of slowing up ,in fact quite the opposite and will start the 2016 season in third spot, hoping to add to his record 17 Grand Slam titles.
Former World #1 Jimmy Connors summed up Roger’s status,”In an era of specialists, you either have a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist… or you’re Roger Federer.”
That’s enough about the great man, what about his weapon? He plays with a Wilson Prostaff RF97 Autograph, 97 square inch racquet with a 21.5 mm beam, weighing 360g with a 331 swing weight and 16 x 9 string pattern, strung with over grip. When I caught up with him at the O2 before last nights final, the uber-cool and relaxed, designer-stubbled Swiss superstar, the only part of the racquet specs he had with him was his autograph which he signed on this sketch for me.
Stan Wawrinka beat local hero Andy Murray to set up a semi final rematch with compatriot Roger Federer at this year’s season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London. Both Swiss players played a close and tense semi last year and the same is expected today. Stan, who has officially changed his name from ‘Stanislas’ to the abbreviated form and currently ranked #4 in the world won his second Grand Slam title this year beating Novak Djokovic at the French Open, denying the World #1 a complete set of Slams in a calendar year.
I drew this sketch of him holding the French Open trophy, which is called La Coupe des Mousquetaires, that’s The Musketeers’ Trophy in Anglais. The original only appears once a year when the winner of the Men’s SIngles is announced. The victor does not get to keep it, but the Federation Francaise de Tennis presents them with a very nice, slightly smaller replica made from a sheet of silver, taking over 100 hours to make.
Stan also wore a distinctive pair of chequered shorts during the tournament which became a fashion statement and the topic of conversation when the play became less interesting. The ‘lucky’ shorts also benefited charity when auctioned off afterwards. I included them in my drawing which Stan signed and dedicated this week for me.
Despite his loss to Roger Federer in pool play this week at the ATP World Tour Finals, it has been another monumental year for Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic as he heads into his 174th week as the world’s #1 ranked player. He remains on track to win his fourth consecutive title, reaching this weekend’s semis at London’s O2 arena. As he did in 2011, Novak won three of this year’s Grand Slams, losing only to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open. He also won all bar one of the Masters 1000 titles, losing to Roger in Cincinnati and achieved a ranking points record.
I drew this montage of Novak holding the Wimbledon, Australian and US Open trophies. He’s always been very complimentary about my previous artwork so hopefully that would continue when I caught up with him at the O2 last Sunday. He was not only complimentary but also considerate, finding a space on the sketch to sign, adding a smiley face in a smaller sig in order not to “ruin the excellent drawing”.
The ‘King of Clay’ Rafa Nadal produced his best performance of the year to beat Andy Murray yesterday at the ATP World Tour Finals in London and secure a semi-final spot.
After an indifferent season, returning from injury the Spanish supremo is looking like returning to the form that has won him 14 Grand Slam titles to date. Currently ranked #5 in the world, he is considered the greatest clay court player of all time because of his dominance on the surface.
Always taking time for his fans, Rafa has signed a few sketches for me. This drawing celebrates his unprecedented nine French Open victories, which I managed to get signed on Sunday at the O2. I was particularly pleased because it is his ‘full’ signature which includes the ‘r nadal’ underneath and a nice dedication.
Win his match today against Rafa Nadal at the ATP World Tour Finals in London and British tennis ace Andy Murray will guarantee a year-end number 2 ranking and almost certainly book a semi-final spot.This all means that he will not be able to leave before Saturday evening or Sunday if he makes the Final. Why is this significant? Because he happens to have a Davis Cup Final against Belgium at the Flanders Expo in Ghent five days later, which will be played on clay and not the hard-court surface at the O2. Obviously having more time to practice on the ‘red dirt’ would be advantageous but I guess he’ll see plenty of it since he is likely to play on all three days of the premier international men’s teams event in order to win his first Davis Cup and Britain’s first since 1936. He trails Rafa 15-6 in the head-to head over eight years, but did beat him on the Spaniard’s favoured clay in Madrid in their only match this year. Their 2010 three-set semi was a real cracker with Rafa winning on the close final set tie-break. Given the one-sided matches at the Finals this year, which one sports writer called a ‘lingering malaise’, everyone’s hoping for a repeat of their match five years ago. Andy signed this sketch for me on his way into the O2 to practice last Saturday.