Inside Look: George Blagden

George Blagden on the set of The Pitchfork Disney in London, UK on February 14, 2017.

We spoke to actor George Blagden about his role as Presley in the Shoreditch Town Hall production of The Pitchfork Disney.

What was the most challenging aspect of the play as you read it, that surprised you in how well it unfolded live?
The language. When you read Philip’s work for the first time, your imagination takes you to a million different places of where this sort of story-telling could work effectively. If you didn’t have the luxury of having Phil there (which we did!), you could interpret his writing in lots of different ways, and different productions of this have done the play in a number of different ways. But this is the genius of it. It is applicable and meaningful to a variety of different social/political settings. I think that is why it is just as engaging to an audience now as it was when it was first produced in 1991.

Do you generally have the same expectations for/ of your director from project to project?
Absolutely not. I think the role of director is so important because they are essentially the “chief story-teller” – we are telling whatever story it is that the director would like to express. And this can often be totally different to how you interpreted the piece when you first read it. It’s why one of the most important jobs of an actor is to trust in the director of the film/episode/play you’re doing and wholly engage in their process, because you are a tool in making their story come to life. And not having any expectations going into something is what makes our job so exciting – to be surprised and inspired by people makes you want to follow them into battle.

Much of the commentary regarding the play pays tremendous credit to the direction of Jamie Lloyd. How/ when did you become aware of his work? What separates his productions from others?
I had heard of his productions and knew that his work had inspired a lot of talented people in our industry to want to work with him. But I am so embarrassed to say that I had never seen any of Jamie’s work before this production! So when he asked me to do it, I suppose I had the luxury that I mentioned above of not having any expectations! The only thing I think I knew, from hearing about his previous work, was that I would be working with a very brave director.

Adding to the previous question, have you noticed these distinctions in Lloyd’s work altering your performance or outlook in any way?
Absolutely. When you work alongside people who are fearless in their approach to the work, it is infectious. And I feel much braver as an actor than I did before I started working with Jamie.

What made this particular project so immediate/ relevant /appealing to you at this point in your life and career?
I have wanted to work on stage for so long, and never been given the opportunity until recently. The idea that I could work with this incredible cast of actors on a Philip Ridley play with Jamie directing as one of my first professional experiences in theatre was too good to be true. It was an opportunity to challenge myself in a way that I haven’t been challenged over the last few years, and I knew it would definitely be a very rewarding experience.

What has been your favourite memory of The Pitchfork Disney that wasn’t onstage?
There were a couple of times in rehearsals where we were reminded (in amongst the chaos of trying to put on a play in 3 weeks!) of why we do this. Some real “pinch-me” moments. In an industry where you can easily get lost in focusing on stuff that isn’t about story-telling, there were times when I realised that this project is exactly why I do this. Being part of one of the best creative teams in our industry to tell a story every night that affects people in some way. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Want more? Watch our behind-the-scenes film.

George Blagden in the dressing room he shared with his castmates.

Notes on the script for The Pitchfork Disney.

Blagden changed into his all black costume.

Blagden led us from the dressing room to the performance area that had been constructed in the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall.

Props which were used in the play.

Blagden gave us a tour of the performance area, standing by a bare bulb – one of many small fixtures which atmospherically lit the set.

Talking through various scenes, Blagden sat with castmates Seun Shote and Tom Rhys Harries in the chairs reserved for audience members during a performance. Unlike traditional plays with a separated stage and seating area, the audience was placed within the set.

Blagden sat for an interview with Shoreditch Town Hall.

Before every performance, Blagden ordered the soup of the day at a nearby restaurant.

Blagden and castmate Hayley Squires rehearsed a key scene.

Squires and Blagden continued to work through the scene.

Back in their dressing rooms, Blagden, Squires and Rhys Harries finished getting ready for the night’s performance.

Blagden mentally prepared himself by listening to the soundtrack to The Revenant. Hear him speak about this in our behind-the-scenes film.

Blagden and Squires worked through a few final points in the countdown to the evening’s show.

Blagden took his first position in character, awaiting the audience to enter the set.

George Blagden can be seen in The Pitchfork Disney, on now until 18 March 2017 at Shoreditch Town Hall, London (UK).

As told to Paul Vaughan for TPJ
Photographer: Jessie Craig

Follow:

1 Comment

  1. March 19, 2017 / 12:46 am

    I’m lost for words when I look at you pictures, you seem like a deep person, don’t know why but you are on my mind shame on me, I’ m a senior: the body gets old but the mind does not’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *