Tell us a little bit about Phys Ed
The tag line for Phys Ed is: Power. Poise. Plonker. A PE teacher's quest for glory. It tells the story of Neville Trellis, a rugby obsessed PE teacher whose twin brother is the greatest player on the planet. He gets the chance to claim some glory for himself when his team reach the final of The English Schools Rugby Invitation Cup U-13 category. It has been his lifelong quest to win this cup, and he sees himself as a modern day King Arthur approaching his own personal holy grail. The team that he meets in the final just happens to be coached by his childhood bully. The play touches on many themes, including male insecurity, what it really means to be a sporting hero and wetting the bed. However, it essentially a very silly comedy.
What do you like about performing/working in Manchester?
I've worked in Manchester many times and I always love returning. What has always struck me is the closeness of the theatrical community here. Actors and directors in seperate theatres will take a genuine interest in what is going on at the rival venues, and go and support them. In London, however, there seems to be far less encouragement from your peers. It is much more like being a tiny fish in a huge pond. Likewise, it seems that people in Manchester are rightly proud of the quality of theatre going on in the city. This is borne out by the fact that events like the 24:7 festival gets so well supported, not just by the public, but also by the theatrical community at large and by companies such as The Library and The Royal Exchange. It's very impressive that plays that start up as small fringe ventures will end up being given the chance to be put on at the more established venues. I feel that something like 24:7 would pass by relatively unnoticed in London, but in Manchester is has a real weight and legitimacy.
Describe the pressure of putting on a one-man-show?
Putting on a one man show is a very different experience to putting on a "normal" play. In a play with other cast members you will bounce off the other actors and use their energy to power your own performance. However, in a one man play you have to generate all the energy for the performance yourself. You can of course bounce off the audience, but they will only respond to what you give them. The intensity of a one man play also has to be higher, as you have to carry that audience with you for the whole 55 minutes, and be 100% commited to it all the way through. It is, frankly, quite knackering. The fact that Simon, the writer, is a former stand up comic adds to the pressure. Stand Up has to be just about the most terrifying thing anyone can do, and Phys Ed is very much written in the style of a stand up comedy show. Let's just hope they laugh. On the up side, there is no-one to blame except yourself. You have complete control over whether it succeeds or fails.
What else are you hoping to catch at 24:7?
The shows that have been selected seem to be a really good mix and I will see as many as I can but the one I will make sure I catch is The Last Chair. That seems like a bizarre, great idea.
What are your future plans?
After 24:7 the plan is to do further tours of Phys Ed. There are quite a few avenues for this that we are exploring. As for me I plan to play