Drawing: Maisie Williams in I and You

Autographed drawing of Maisie Williams in I and You at the Hampstead Theatre

Maisie Williams made her professional screen debut in 2011 as Arya Stark in the hit TV fantasy drama series GAME OF THRONES for which she was nominated for an Emmy five years later.

She made her stage debut last month as a surly, death-haunted teenager in Lauren Gunderson’s I AND YOU, at the Hampstead Theatre in North London along with fellow theatre debutant Zach Wyatt. The 21 year-old English actress plays Caroline, who is home bound by a life-threatening illness, but a book of Walt Whitman poems and an unlikely friendship changes things. It’s a two character, 90 minute study of adolescent confusions and cosmic mysteries, which WhatsOnStage calls “a joyous, well-crafted evening”.

“Maisie Williams is an unstoppable bundle of charisma”, wrote Fiona Mountford in her Evening Standard review.

Maisie kindly signed my sketch when she arrived for last Saturday’s matinee performance at the Hampstead. I AND YOU runs until 24 November.

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Drawing: Aimee Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Millie O’Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarneia Richard-Noel in Six the Musical

Autographed drawing of Aimee Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Millie O'Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarneia Richard-Noel in Six the Musical on London's West End

The ‘intoxicating Tudor take-off’, SIX THE MUSICAL by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss tells the tales of Henry VIII’s six wives, from their perspective, transforming from Queens to pop princesses, remixing five hundred years of her-storical heartbreak. It’s promoted as ‘a 75 minute celebration of sisterly sassitude.’ After an earlier, limited West End run, followed by a brief UK tour, then a month long sell-out residency at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, SIX returned to London’s Arts Theatre for an extended season.

Writing in The Times, Ann Treneman said “I predict a hit” and she was right. The soundtrack album passed two million streams a week ago and the production has been nominated for four Broadway World UK Awards, including Best Ensemble to start the theatre gongs season. “The grand surprise, though is just how gloriously-persuasively-coherent, confident and inventive the whole thing is. The upfront (feminist) thesis is to take us beyond the rudiments of that kindergarten mnemonic, Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived,” wrote Dominic Cavendish in his four-star review for the Telegraph.

The slick, kick-ass girl band members, Jarneia Richard-Noel (Catherine of Aragon), Millie O’Connell (Anne Boleyn), Natalie Paris (Jane Seymour), Alexia McIntosh (Anne of Cleves), Aimee Atkinson (Catherine Howard) and Maiya Quansah-Breed (Catherine Parr) perform a diverse range of musical genres from pop to hip-hop, including some R&B in an unsisterly competition, where each sing a song to prove they are the biggest victim.

All six signed my head sketches in the final week at the Arts Theatre, before embarking on another UK tour, returning to the London venue early next year.

Drawing: Ben Turner and John Pfumojena in The Jungle

Autographed drawing of Ben Turner in The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre on London's West End

Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s remarkable and courageous play, THE JUNGLE, regarded as one of most vital and important productions to be staged over the past year, has just completed its hugely successful run at London’s Playhouse Theatre, after an initial a sell-out season at the Young Vic and a cluster of five-star reviews. Next month it opens at St Anne’s Warehouse in New York.

THE JUNGLE follows the hopes and despair of the inhabitants of Europe’s largest unofficial refugee camp the Calais Jungle on the northern coast of France, which became the home for more than 10,000 people in 2015. The majority of the original 18 strong cast will be transferring including Ben Turner and John Pfumojena. British-Iranian actor Ben, best known to TV viewers as the nurse Jay Faldren in BBC’s CASULTY and Louis XV in DOCTOR WHO plays the proud but cranky chef Salar who runs the camps thriving Afghan cafe and distrusts the British.

“Ben Turner stands out as Salar, the owner of the Jungle’s main restaurant who fights deep-seated anger at the destruction of his native Afghanistan to become one of the camp’s leaders and peace-makers,” wrote Mark Ludmon in his British Theatre.com review.

Zimbabwean-born, London-based actor and musician John Pfumojena plays teenager Okot from Darfur in Western Sudan with “astonishing intensity of pain” according to the Independent’s Paul Taylor. Sarah Compton’s review for WhatsOnStage said that John provides “the play’s single most moving scene when he explains how his journey has changed him, obliterating the person he was even though he is still only 17.” John also composed the music for the production which The Stage’s JN Benjamin said “… is the beating heart of the show. John’s compositions unite audiences and actors through mellifluous harmonies.”

Both John and Ben signed their respective sketches on Saturday at the stage door, before the final matinee.

Autographed drawing of John Pfumojena in The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre on London's West End

Drawing: Jack Lowden in Ghosts

Autographed drawing of Jack Lowden in Ghosts at the Almeida Theatre and Trafalgar Studios on London's West End

Scottish actor Jack Lowden won the Olivier Award for his harrowing portrayal of an ailing and anguished artist in Richard Eyre’s London revival of Ibsen’s GHOSTS. Initially staged at the Almeida in the Autumn of 2013, the production transferred to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End, concluding in March 2014. Jack played Oswald Alving opposite Lesley Manville (who also won the Olivier) as Helen,his widowed mother. He has inherited syphilis from his lecherous late father and as his heath deteriorates, returns home from living as a painter in Paris, where falls for the maid Regina, who turns out to be his philandering father’s illegitimate daughter.

The subject matter of religion, general disease, incest and euthanasia, “caused an explosion of outrage and critical venom,” said the director, when it was first staged in 1882 in the US. In his five-star review for the Telegraph, Charles Spencer wrote, “Jack Lowden, big, shambolic and increasingly distraught as her bohemian artist son conveys the ugly, egotism of the chronically sick and the sheer terror of his terrible illness. The plays closing moments are almost too upsetting to watch.”

Jack is currently back on the London stage after enjoying his first major international onscreen success in the 2016 BBC miniseries WAR AND PEACE. He stars opposite Hayley Atwell in Shakespeare’s MEASURE FOR MEASURE at the Donmar Warehouse, Josie Rourke’s final production as artistic director for the intimate Covent Garden venue. In a unique gender-reversal, Jack and Hayley alternate the roles of Angelo and Isabella during the play. Jack signed my sketch when he arrived for last Saturday’s matinee.

Drawing: Martin McDonagh

Autographed drawing of writer Martin McDonagh

Anglo-Irish playwright, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh’s latest stage play A VERY VERY VERY DARK MATTER opened last week at London’s Bridge Theatre. Set in Copenhagen, it delves behind the dark sources of the beloved fairytales of Danish children’s author Hans Christian Anderson.

Martin is a person I admire greatly. With no formal training he wrote a stack of plays in 1990s that made him one of the most celebrated new English-language dramatists of his generation. The first six, separated into two trilogies, are located in and around County Galway on Ireland’s western seaboard, where he spent most of his childhood holidays. His first non-Irish play, THE PILLOWMAN was staged at the National Theatre in 2003, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Play and was also Tony nominated in 2005. He had previously won the Olivier for THE LIEUTENANT OF INISMORE and collected his third for HANGMEN in 2016. He is yet to win a Tony after four nominations.

Martin has stated that it’s the screen, not the stage that is his favourite medium. In that realm, he is very very very much in demand after his third feature, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, which he wrote and directed, featured heavily during the latest awards season with seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Original Screenplay. It won five BAFTAs from nine nominations, winning Best Film and Best British Film and Best Original Screenplay for Martin who also claimed the producing, writing and directing Golden Globes. He’s no stranger to film awards. His screenplay for his first feature, IN BRUGES (2008) won the BAFTA and he received his fourth nomination for an Oscar, which he won on his first attempt in 2005 for SIX SHOOTER in the Best Live Action Short category.

I was very very very pleased to meet Martin at the World Premiere of A VERY VERY VERY DARK MATTER at the Bridge Theatre last week where he signed my sketch.

Drawing: Blair Brown in The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and The Parisian Woman

Autographed drawing of Blair Brown in The Parisian Woman at the Hudson Theater in New York and in The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd

The ‘fantastic’ (as Guardian critic Jake Nevins called her) Blair Brown returned to the Broadway stage late last year in Beau Willimon’s political play THE PARISIAN WOMAN at the Hudson Theatre alongside Uma Thurman after a 15 year absence. It was hardly a break from the New York stage, coming hot-on-the-heels of her off-Broadway run in ON THE SHORE OF THE WILD WORLD. She also has a long list of TV credits, the most recent being ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK.

My personal favourite was THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF MOLLY DODD which ran for five seasons from 1987-1991. Blair played the title role, a bohemian woman in her thirties struggling with her career, men (and the occasional woman) and family where ‘her warmth and emotional accessibility were the root cause of most of Molly’s problems in life’. Blair was nominated for an Emmy Award for the five consecutive years the show aired. After ‘Molly Dodd’ she became a prolific Broadway actress, winning a Tony Award for her role as Margrethe, wife of physicist Niels Bohr in Michael Frayn’s COPENHAGEN at the Royal Theatre.

I sent this sketch to Blair while she was appearing at the Hudson Theatre earlier this year and was very pleased to get it back, signed and dedicated.

Drawing: Sir David Hare

Autographed drawing of writer Sir David Hare

Although Sir David Hare is best known for his multi-award winning stage work, the distinguished English writer and director has also had great success with his screen career. He won the BAFTA for writing and directing LICKING HITLER in 1978, a television play about the black propaganda unit operating in England during WWII, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes for his THE HOURS (2003) and THE READER (2009) adapted screenplays. He won the Writers Guild of America award for the former.

Sir David signed my quick portrait sketch at the recent BFI London Film Festival’s Gala screening of THE WHITE CROW, which he wrote about Soviet ballet legend Rudolph Nureyev’s defection to the West, directed by Ralph Fiennes.

Drawing: Sir Antony Sher as Richard lll

Autographed drawing of Antony Sher as Richard III at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford and the Barbican in London

Considered as one of the finest classical actors of his time, Sir Antony Sher joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982. Three years later, in his breakthrough role as RICHARD III he won his first Olivier Award, which he described as “my first attempt at one of the great roles.” Since then he has played them all – Lear, Macbeth, Shylock, Titus to name a few.

His second Olivier was for his portrayal of English painter Stanley Spencer in STANLEY in 1987. Sir Antony’s Shakespearian accolades don’t stop with his stagework, winning a Screen Actors Guild award in the same year as part of the ensemble cast in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE.

Sir Antony signed my RIchard III sketch at the Harold Pinter Theatre stage door on Saturday as he arrived for his final performance in the first production of the PINTER AT THE PINTER season.

Drawing: Neve McIntosh in Killer Joe

Autographed drawing of Neve McIntosh in Killer Joe at the Trafalgar Studios on London's West End

Scottish actress Neve McIntosh made her West End debut this summer in Tracy Letts American southern gothic comedy KILLER JOE at the Trafalgar Studios. She played Sharla, the stepmother in the ‘fiercely disturbing’ play, set in a Texas trailer park about the dysfunctional Smith family who hire a detective and hit-man Joe Cooper to kill the mother and claim the insurance.

In her WhatsOnStage review, Sarah Crompton wrote they Neve “adds insight and sass to her scenes as Sharla the stepmother, determined to survive and make as much of life as she can.” Neve herself described the play as “dark, funny, shocking and very human.”

She’s a familiar face on the small screen, appearing in a number of popular British shows, including a recurring role as Madame Vastra in DOCTOR WHO and architect Kay Gillies in BBC1’s miniseries THE REPLACEMENT.

She signed my Shayla sketch at the beginning of the run in June and the portrait during the final week at the stage door in August.

Autographed drawing of actress Neve McIntosh

Drawing: Rachel Redford in The Jungle

Autographed drawing of Rachel Redford in The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre on London's West End

One of the rising stars of British theatre is Welsh-born RADA graduate Rachel Redford, who is currently one of the 18 characters, a blend of refugees and British volunteers in Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s THE JUNGLE at London’s Playhouse theatre. She was part of the original Young Vic cast that transferred to the West End back in June in the wake of five- star reviews.

THE JUNGLE, defined as a ‘vital drama’ by The Guardian, focuses on the hopeful, resilient residents of the Calais refugee camp in 2015. Rachel plays Beth, a young teacher, described as a ‘passionate bundle of outrage.’

In her Evening Standard review Fiona Mountford summed up the British volunteers involvement, as a “true Empire hangover… they want to improve order on this sea of human desperation but are hopelessly out of their depth.”

Rachel signed my sketch for me after a Saturday matinee performance a few weeks ago.