Text by Nick Payne
When I was first told about LSW by a friend, Avy Andrews, I was intrigued. Shakespeare had never really rung any bells for me, thanks to the usual school tedium, but to take the Bard back into surroundings that were familiar to me, and also much in need of some friendly faces, it seemed too good a chance to turn up.
I was not disappointed. My immediate impression of Bruce Wall was of a man with tremendous energy and dedication to his goals, which seemed to be similar to mine:
‘To free the mind and the soul from the restrictions of the daily round and to soar awhile in the magic that is Theatre.’
I was chuffed to be working alongside professional actors and was relieved to discover that they are all human beings too, with human virtues and failings, but with a common desire to experience theatre and to apply whatever commitment that may be asked of them.
Bruce’s workshops need to be experienced firsthand. I shall never forget the feeling that I’m sure we all had, when during VOICES half of the 200 audience at the ROH, with many dignitaries present, plus the 30 cast members, had finished cavorting around in the most crazy and liberating ways, we then BEGAN the performance. The air was buzzing with energy and the cast and audience were both well focused!
I was once again privileged to feel that tremendous surge of electricity/magnetism that exists between audience and performers and a long denied passion to become part of that experience was re-kindled in me. Here I was on a stage in the West End with a host of top rate performers doing my bit alongside them.
I have had a somewhat chequered life and I never dreamed that this sort of experience would ever be open to me. I have recently come through a period where I experienced homelessness and the subsequent emotional and social exclusion that comes with it.
Largely as a result of Bruce’s support and encouragement, and above all his knack of making everyone feel welcome and important, I am about to start a job as actor/mentor for the Cardboard Citizens. This is a theatre group who work closely with the homeless, with those who have made themselves responsible for supporting these guys on their next few steps through life and with those government agencies who have the funds and the authority to make the life of the homeless a little easier. I am very excited at the prospect.
I shall however maintain close contact with Bruce, as I feel that I have much still to experience from his work. I hope to help him take his good news, ‘that the English language is alive and well and the birthright of us all’, into as many institutions as time and energy will permit. Long live LSW, the words of the Bard and those who seek to keep them all alive and well.