Drawing: Ian Rickson and Jez Butterworth

Ian Rickson Jez Butterworth

Playwright Jez Butterworth and director Ian Rickson have formed a formidable team and are considered one of contemporary British theatre’s great collaborators. Jez’s debut play, Mojo, the black gangster comedy set in a Soho nightclub in the 1950s, premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 1995, directed by Ian Rickson who became the resident artistic director from 1998 – 2006, replacing Stephen Daldry.

They have been friends and collaborators ever since, with Ian directing all of Jez’s plays. That includes the smash hit Jerusalem, that was a runaway success at the Court, on West End and Broadway.

Eighteen years later Ian directed a revival of Mojo at the Harold Pinter Theatre, featuring an all star cast, including Ben Whishaw, Daniel Mays and Rupert Grint.

I love Jez’s writing and am a huge fan of Ian’s direction. They are both very likeable chaps; always engaging and obliging.

I drew this sketch of Ian and Jez in rehearsals for Mojo, hoping to get both to sign it on press night in November 2013. I managed to get Jez, but couldn’t find Ian, so figured he’d be around through the season. Whenever our paths did cross over the next two years, I didn’t have the sketch on me.

It wasn’t until press night of his most recent play The Red Lion at the National’s Dorfman Stage last week that I had a chance. I had to politely excuse myself at the official gathering in the foyer after the performance. He was his usual friendly self, liked the sketch and happily signed it.

Drawing: Mackenzie Crook in Jerusalem

Mackenzie Crook

Mackenzie Crook is probably best known from TV’s The Office and Game of Thrones, or as Ragetti in the Pirates of the Caribbean Films.

A fellow illustrator and cartoonist, but it was his comedy sketches that dictated his career more. He wanted to be a graphic artist, but after being turned down three times by the Kent Institute of Art & Design he became a comedian alongside Iain Lee as ‘the cheeky, chirpy, chappy Charlie Cheese from Chorley’.

It was his stage work that gave me the opportunity to meet him. He received rave reviews as Ginger in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem which transferred from London’s Royal Court Theatre in August 2009 to the Apollo in the West End before a stint on Broadway where he was nominated for the Tony award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.

I drew this minimal line sketch of Mackenizie and met him at the Apollo stage door, where his sketches illustrated the Jerusalem programme. I gave him a copy of this sketch, which he then asked me to sign – a first for a sig-seeking-sketching-stalker.

As a teenager he inherited a rare breeding pair of Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoises, leading to a hobby of breeding chelonians (the scientific name for turtles and the such like). I used to have a turtle called Algernon or ‘Algae’ for short cos he was green! Another conversation point, but that’s another story. He did uses his turtles in the play!

Drawing: Aimée-Ffion Edwards in Jerusalem

Amy-Ffion Edwards

I first saw Welsh actress Aimée-Ffion Edwards in Jez Butterworth’s outstanding play Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre on London’s Shaftesbury Ave. The play opened at the downstairs theatre of London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2009 to rave reviews. It starred Mark Rylance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, a modern day Pied Piper and Mackenzie Crook as Ginger, an aspiring DJ and unemployed plasterer.

The title is based on a short a short poem ‘And did those feet in ancient time’ by William Blake, best known as the anthem ‘Jerusalem’ with music written by Hubert Parry in 1916.

Jerusalem along with most of the original cast, including Aimée-Ffion, transferred to the Apollo Theatre in the West End in 2010 before its Broadway run in 2011 followed by a London revival later that year, again at the Apollo. It won multiple awards, including the Olivier and Tony.

Aimee-Ffion played Phaedra, the stepdaughter of local thug Troy Whitworth who goes missing in the play. She is seen at the beginning of both Act One and Two singing the hymn ‘Jerusalem’ dressed in fairy wings, which was the basis for this sketch which she signed for me at the Apollo Stage door.

Drawing: Mark Rylance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron

rylance illust001

Mark Rylance won both the Olivier and the Tony Awards for his performance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron – the opinionated eccentric in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem. “Rylance raises his game even higher and shows he is one of the greats,” said The Sunday Times. Time Out stated, “Believe the hype. Rylance’s astonishing final scene is as close to real magic as you’ll find.”

Mark signed this aqua-crayon and black conté sketch at the Apollo Theatre, London in February 2011.  For my black and white alternate see here.

Drawing: Jerusalem, starring Mark Rylance and Mackenzie Crook

Rylance+Crook001

Thoroughly enjoyed watching “Jerusalem” on stage in the Westend a couple of years ago. So here’s my drawing – signed by Mark Rylance and Mackenzie Crook