Drawing: Roger Allam and Jessie Buckley in The Tempest

I drew this sketch of Roger Allam as Prospero and Jessie Buckley as Miranda from Jeremy Herrin’s production of THE TEMPEST which was part of the 2013 season at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. But I never got the chance to get it signed at the time. It’s what I call ‘siguations vacant’.I have numerous  unsigned sketches in my bag, just in case I cross paths with those rendered. Jessie actually signed a short while after the season finished at her London agency, but I’ve been waiting for Roger to walk the boards again. This seems to happen at three to four year intervals, between his screen commitments. Having won the Olivier for his magnificent performance as Falstaff in HENRY IV PARTS 1 & 2 at the Globe in 2010, he returned for THE TEMPEST three years later. He did so again, albeit it a little longer, last month in LIMEHOUSE at the Donmar Warehouse, where I managed to meet up with him on a quiet Saturday morning to complete the sketch signing.

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Drawing: Eve Best and Clive Wood in Antony and Cleopatra at Shakespeare’s Globe

Antony and Cleopatra

The season of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra is into its final week at the Globe in London, with Olivier award-winning actress Eve Best and RSC veteran Clive Wood in the title roles.

It’s Shakespeare’s greatest exploration of the conflicting claims of sex and power, but its contradictory features make it difficult to put into a single genre. It can be classified as a history play, a tragedy, comedy and a romance! Cleopatra is the Bar’s most complex female role.

The Guardian’s Michael Billington summed up the performance of the two leads “restlessly sensual, Best is excellent at capturing Cleopatra’s mercurial contradictions… Wood plays Antony as an old ruffian who is seduced by the Alexandrian fleshpots… more at ease with the ragged world of male soldiery… is faintly apprehensive of the quixotic, mood-changing queen.”

Paul Taylor in The Independent reinforces this, “Best is a supreme mistress at working the Globe space, wonderfully unforced audience rapport and brings a terrific impatient energy to Cleopatra’s capricious changes. She even flirts with the groundlings (standing audience members) planting a kiss on one of them. Clive Wood is a natural casting as Antony – a sexy ageing lion torn between two worlds, who vacillates between duty and pleasure.”

Drawing: Flora Spencer-Longhurst, William Houston and Indira Varma in Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare’s Globe

Titus Andronicus

Shakespeare’s Globe opened its 2014 summer season with a revisiting of Lucy Bailey’s hugely successful Titus Andronicus.

Audience members were warned in advance of its grisly content with the offer of witnessing one of the darkest and most seminal productions in the Globe’s history. In the height of summer in 2006 dozens of people who bought standing tickets fainted each show. Fainting isn’t exactly uncommon amongst Globe groundlings (£5 standing ticket holders) so, “our front of house staff are very well trained,” said a Globe spokesperson.

Grotesquely violent and daringly experimental, Titus was the smash hit of Shakespeare’s early career, “written with a ghoulish energy he was never to repeat. “It stars William Houston as the unstable Roman general Titus and Indira Varma as the haughty Goth Queen Tamora in what one critic described as ‘Tarantino-esque’.

Playing Lavinia, Titus’s daughter, actress Flora Spencer-Longhurst has her tongue and hands cut off after she is raped. “Despite my character having her tongue ripped out, it is the most articulate role I have ever played!” she told The Daily Mail.

On one particular evening alone it was reported that five people had fainted. The Independent’s Holly Williams wrote, “A confession: I fainted. I’m not alone. Audience members are dropping like flies at this revival of Lucy Bailey’s infamously gory 2006 staging.”

Escaping the bloodshed on Saturday for the final performance, I dodged raindrops and left this sketch at the stage door, which Williams, Indira and Flora kindly signed for me, without spilling a drop of red stuff on it.

Drawing: Gemma Arterton in The Duchess of Malfi at Shakespeare’s Globe

Gemma Arterton Globe

Gemma Arterton made her professional stage debut at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2007, with huge critical acclaim as Rosaline in Loves’s Labour’s Lost while still a student at RADA. She returned at the beginning of the year to play the title role in the Jacobean tragedy The Duchess of Malfi by English dramatist John Webster directed by Dominic Dromgoole.

It opened the curtain on the inaugural season at the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – an intimate 340 seat indoor Jacobean theatre, built from authentic designs and craftsmanship of the period. It is named after the director and actor who founded the modern recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The conspiratorial atmosphere is enhanced with the 17th century practice of being lit almost solely by beeswax candles.

The Duchess is one of the great theatrical roles for women and Gemma jumped at the chance to play her on such a magical stage. “It’s like Tarantino,” she said, “there’s mass bloodshed, incest, violence, lots of kick-arse stuff and everybody dies in the end.” Gemma’s own death scene is gruesome. She is strangled with two ropes pulling in opposing directions for nearly ten minutes.

 

 

Drawing: Jessie Buckley in The Tempest at Shakespeare’s Globe

jesse buckley

Irish singer and actress Jessie Buckley made her Globe debut in April 2013, playing “a tomboyish” Miranda opposite Roger Allam‘s “delicatedly handled” Prospero in The Tempest. The Bard’s last great masterpiece with a modern twist.

Described as “an ambiguous but magical production of Shakespeare’s problem play”. The Stage reviewer Catherine Usher said Jessie’s “energetic, rebellious, vaguely feminist Miranda is very enjoyable.”

Jessie signed my sketch, which I left at The Globe and wrote me a lovely note, appreciating my support and the rendering.

Drawing: Eve Best and Charles Edwards in Much Ado About Nothing at The Globe

Best:Edwards

Eve Best and Charles Edwards played the perfect Beatrice and Benedick in Shakespeare’s 1599 comedic play Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe in mid 2011, signing my quick biro sketch with a thin red fineliner

Drawing: Miranda Raison in Anne Boleyn at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

miranda raison

Shakespeare’s Globe commissioned Howard Brenton to write a new play – Anne Boleyn. It premiered at the Globe Theatre on 24 July 2010 with Miranda Raison in the title role as Henry VIIIs notorious second wife. It received high critical acclaim and won Best New Play at the What’s On Stage Theatregoers Choice Awards in 2011. Sell out performances resulted in its return for two months in 2011.

Not some dusty, historical drama, it was described as a tale full of life and humour, adventure and romance, all tinged with sadness. It is a celebration of a great English heroine who was a significant force in the political and religious fight leading to the English reformation. While sharp intelligence, political acumen and forward manners are desirable in a mistress, they were at the time unacceptable in a wife… the rest, as they say, is ‘herstory’.

Miranda is best known for her role as Jo Portman in the British television series Spooks (a show Howard Brenton also wrote scripts for). She also played Anne Boleyn in Henry VIII in the same season at the Globe.

The play opens with Miranda addressing the audience holding her severed head, rendered in my sketch which Miranda kindly signed. She also sent me a lovely note, thanking me for a “wonderful drawing”.

Drawings: Richard III and Twelfth Night; starring Mark Rylance, Stephen Fry, James Garnon, Peter Hamilton Dyer, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Colin Hurley, Samuel Barnett and Johnny Flynn

Here are my drawings from Shakespeare’s Richard III and Twelfth Night at the Globe and Apollo Theatres. Loved both plays, the cast was amazing.

mark rylance001Mark Rylance

Stephen Fry001

Stephen Fry

James Garnon001

James Garnon

Peter Hamilton Dryer001

Peter Hamilton Dyer

Roger Lloyd Pack Colin Hurley

Roger Lloyd-Pack and Colin Hurley

Samuel and Johhny001

Samuel Barnett and Johnny Flynn