Friday, December 10, 2010
Monday, December 06, 2010
Facing financial ruin, George, Prince of Wales was obliged to marry his first cousin Princess Caroline of Brunswick. But if he had been expecting a docile partner with whom he could maintain appearances, George had seriously underestimated his wife-to-be.
George IV ...... Alex Jennings
Caroline of Brunswick ...... Rebecca Saire
Henry Brougham ...... Julian Rhind Tutt
Lord Sidmouth ...... Chris McHallem
Lord Liverpool ...... Richard Howard
Sir Robert Gifford ...... Mark Lambert
Lady Jersey ...... Jill Cardo
Mr Majoucci ...... Nial Cusack
Directed by Eoin O'Callaghan, written by Shelagh Stephenson.
Friday, December 03, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
For more information: BBC Radio 4
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The complete longlist for best actor:
Roger Allam – Henry IV Parts One and Two (Shakespeare’s Globe)
Bertie Carvel – Rope (Almeida Theatre)
Benedict Cumberbatch – After The Dance (National Theatre)
Martin Freeman – Clybourne Park (Royal Court)
Alex Jennings – The Habit Of Art (National Theatre)
Rory Kinnear – Measure For Measure (Almeida Theatre) and Hamlet (National Theatre)
Adrian Lester – Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (Novello Theatre)
Alfred Molina – Red (Donmar Warehouse)
Jonathan Pryce – The Caretaker (Trafalgar Studios)
Simon Russell Beale – London Assurance (National Theatre) and Deathtrap (Nöel Coward Theatre)
Adrian Scarborough – After The Dance (National Theatre)
David Suchet – All My Sons (Apollo Theatre)
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
The programme will be broadcast on 8 September at 10.35 pm on ITV1.
ITV Press Centre
Saturday, July 24, 2010
The Saturday play to be broadcast on the 24th of July on Radio 4 at 2.30pm is written by Christopher Hampton and is a witty and sad memory play set in Alexandria in the years up to and during the Suez invasion. (Edit: iplayer link available until Saturday 31st here.)
It is about his father, played by Alex, in Egypt working for Cable and Wireless, his mother, also from a Cable and Wireless family, and Ibrahim, the Egyptian servant who has been running the house for 20 years and who helps 10-year-old Chris, the future playwright, make up dramas for homework.
A Guardian article that touches on the recording of this play and the parlous state of radio drama budgets can be found here.
Narrator ... Christopher Hampton
Father ... Alex Jennings
Ibrahim ... Mido Hamada
Mother ... Amanda Root
Chris ... Harvey O'Neil
Guard/Fouad/Basso/Stockman/Shoes-shine man/Egyptian boy ... Ayman Hamdouchi
Albert ... David Annen
Edward ... Harrison Charles
Paul ... Harry Manton
Schoolboy ... Josef Lindsay
Pianist: Michael Webborn
Director: Polly Thomas
Producer: Ann Scott
A Greenpoint production for BBC Radio 4.
In other radio news, you can listen to "Speaking for Themselves" The letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill, on Radio 7 at 9.00pm every night this week and then for a week on the iPlayer.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
The broadcast can be heard for seven days after initial broadcast on the BBC IPlayer.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Thanks to Penny!
Thursday, May 06, 2010
For tickets and more information check the festival website: Stratford Fringe
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
For more informationBristol Old Vic Theatre School
Alex was recently heard reading the part of Oliver Lacon in the new BBC radio adaptations of the Smiley books. This brought him back to the start of his career, because his first television appearance was as PC Hall in "Smiley's People". He had to turn a body over and be sick. The job did give him the chance to work with Alec Guinness. "He taught me what a mark is", according to Alex. His appearance in the tv series was short, but he later met Alec Guinness again and had lunch with him a couple of times.
Alex is a contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and has already written some ten pieces. He says he got involved in this in an "anoraky way". He got in touch with them, pointing out certain omissions in the dictionary, for example Kenneth More and Kay Kendall, and he was then asked to be a contributor. "You have to be dead to be in it". He has written pieces on, for example, Kay Kendall, Maurice Denham and Michael Bryant, and he will write on Ian Richardson, Elizabeth Spriggs and Paul Scofield.
Alex went to the theatre more often in the past, when he was at school, university and drama school, than he does now, and he used to go to see particular performers rather than directors. He doesn't prefer a specific type of acting but "a raft of different approaches". Favourites were Ralph Richardson, who "dazzled and intrigued", Cyril Cusack, Paul Scofield in anything, John Wood and Angela Lansbury in "Gypsy".
The creation of "The Habit of Art" was an odd process, it went from a rehearsal room to a rehearsal room. It was a little like rehearsing in front of an audience, which was quite relaxing. Alex does feel that rehearsing is a private process, which should not be seen by the audience. He finds the presence of cameras for a programme like the South Bank Show quite unsettling. There was some talk of installing a viewing gallery in one of the rehearsal rooms at the National Theatre, but that idea horrifies him. There was such a gallery in the Archers studio when he worked there a couple of years ago, but there is a curtain there now. "It's our business", he says.
Alex is passionate about Britten and his music, and he wanted to be in a play by Alan Bennett. He is always happy to get the laughs, though they don't always happen at the same moment. "Prince Charles loved it, he was laughing when other people weren't."Alex had another actor in mind as a model for Henry, but he won't say who. There was some debate during rehearsals about Britten and that sometimes got heated. Alex about Britten: "He sat on the edge of the bath, but didn't get in". If something had happened with the boys that would have come out by now. The boys had all enjoyed working with Britten, and were hurt to be turned away when their voices broke and they were no longer useful for the music. Alex now feels "slightly fed up with playing real people". He thought he played a sympathetic Charles, but not everybody agreed. He feels the same about Britten.
Alex does a lot of readings and audiobooks. He reads the books beforehand, but he is not a fast reader and doesn't always manage to finish the book on time. He was once almost caught out when, after the first day of a four day reading, it turned out that the four characters he had been playing were in fact one character, and he didn't know. He knows this kind of thing happens to other actors too. Alex usually casts the books in his mind so he can attach another actor's face and voice to a character. He has just finished recording a series of children's books, The Edge Chronicles, where he gave the different kinds of creatures different regional accents. He likes to do radio and is sometimes disappointed to find other actors take the parts he has done for radio into film. That happened, for example, with Graham Greene's "THe End of the Affair", which he recorded with Emma Fielding and which he was particularly happy with. Ralph Fiennes played the part in the film.
Alex will be appearing in "Candide" in Japan in August, and then in a new production of "My Fair Lady" in Paris in December. Both will be directed by Robert Carson. Margaret Tyzack will play Higgins' mother in Paris, with Nicholas le Prevost playing Pickering. The piece will be performed in English. Emma Thompson has written the screenplay for a film version, but Alex doesn't consider playing Higgins in that one a real possibility.
He likes to play both comedy and straight plays, and he enjoys getting the laughs. He has no cause to complain about the way his career has turned out so far, though at the moment he has some nostalgia for the ages 35 to 45. He gets to play more fathers now, often to pretty daughters as in Cranford. A few years ago he decided to try to get more work in television, to get some bigger parts. He very much enjoyed being in Cranford. There was a cake day every week during the shooting, with cakes spread out on a big table in the reverend Hutton's church. Julia McKenzie made the best merengues.
He would like to do more audiobooks, more Dickens, but the market seems saturated. Everything seems to be available now. He enjoys doing unabridged readings. "So you can do all the parts". There will be more Woman's Hour drama, the next Dickens will probably be "A Tale of Two Cities". Alex: "I have asked if Dickens can play the part of Sydney Carton".
The question if "The Habit of Art" gives a truthful insight into the presence of the writer in the theatre and the rehearsal process, leads Alex to say that "Alan is completely open and unprecious about his writing". Alex goes into Alan Bennett mode, when asked to illuminate on the text he goes "Ooh, I don't know". He seems well able to impersonate Bennett, but says he will not play him. Working with David Hare on "stuff Happens" meant changes to the script every day, whith an author who was much better informed than the actors. For Speer, David Edgar and Gitta Sereny were both present, and Sereny had know Speer. But Alex continues: "I'd like to have done more new work than I've done, I've done mainly dead writers". And about the actors in relation to the authors: "We have to be adaptable, we're just here to serve", with a little smile.
Comedians he grew up with were Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper and Frankie Howerd. The comedy he loved, however, was that of Hollywood's Golden Age, the screwball comedies made by Cary Grant and William Powell, who "got to be suave and wear tuxedos". The greatest influence was the film "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines", bits of which he used throughout his career. "His Girl Friday" was a dream to do for Alex, playing the Cary Grant character. "I'd love to work with Zoe (Wanamaker) again", he says.
Part of his career was determined by the need to pay the mortgage. He has had to turn down parts with theatres that could not afford to pay very much. "There were some fairly rocky moments" (financially). With his partner Lesley he has raised two children. His partner also works, "my career was enabled by her", he says. The present financial crisis isn't doing actors much good. There are fewer parts in film and tv, and actors get paid less for the work than they did ten years ago.
He did some directing at university, but now he has "no desire whatsoever to direct".
The most challenging and satisfying part he has played was Hamlet. He thought he'd left it too late, but he did get to play it. He was very much on the same wavelength as director Matthew Warchus, so it worked very well. It took him a long time to let go of the part and he didn't see the play again until Simon Russell Beale played the role. Even then he had trouble hearing some lines, wondering why he didn't say that line like that.
He loves working at the National Theatre, also because he doesn't live too far away. Another favourite theatre is Stratford, partly because of the way he got to develop his career there. He loved playing Higgins at the huge stage of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. He also likes the huge stage at the Coliseum. His partner said of this: "Finally, darling, you've found the right theatre for you".
As for future plans and parts he would like to play. He has given up on MacBeth, but he would love to have a go at Sweeney Todd. He is aware of the limitations of his voice, but he will try the part with his singing teacher.
After the session in the Lyttelton Alex signed autographs in the foyer of the theatre. There was quite a queue, but he took time to talk to all people interested.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
For tickets to the Bristol performance see St George's Bristol.
Thanks to Jen!
Monday, April 26, 2010
For more information and for tickets check the Kew Music Festival website.
Monday, April 19, 2010
In December Alex will resume the role of Professor Higgins in a new production of "My Fair Lady" at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Thanks to Jennifer!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
2.15 to 3.00pm BBC RADIO 4. He starts with Toby Stephens in this play written by Robert Rigby and Nick Russell-Pavier.
From the BBC website: "Jonathan confronts intruder Steve with his legally owned shotgun. A violent struggle ensues and the gun goes off, shattering a window. Steve grabs the gun and gains control. A neighbour reports hearing gunfire and a full-scale, armed police siege unfolds. A bizarre and precarious relationship develops between Steve, Jonathan and the authorities."
The cast also includes Victoria Carling, Ben Crowe, Jonathan Oliver and Zoe King.
Thanks again to Penny!
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
I've grabbed a few pictures from it below. Alex played the Head of the Fees Office Andrew Walker; a man who won't look through his glasses if he can possibly look over them.
The trailer for the show can be found on Youtube here.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Vortigern and Rowena will be broadcast on Wednesday the 3rd March at 2.15pm on Radio 4.
Lorcan Cranitch plays Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Alex Jennings plays John Philip Kemble and Rufus Wright plays William Henry Ireland. The play was written by Melissa Murray.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The 60 minute drama is a humorous take on the recent furore over MP's expenses. Alex plays the head of the Fees Office, Andrew Walker; other actors include: Brian Cox, Anna Maxwell Martin and Neil Pearson. The drama was written by Tony Saint.
The BBC Press Pack can be found here.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Thanks to Jen.
Edit: iPlayer link (available until 21st February).
Friday, January 29, 2010
This platform was originally scheduled for December 2009, but was canceled due to Alex's unavailability.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Friday, January 01, 2010
29 November matinee
The play is very good, with plenty of funny lines and superb performances from everyone. Frances de la Tour was marvellous as the stage manager; getting laughs from terse repetitions of 'Go on!' to simply a look. She's fantastic in the play, if underused during the second act.
Richard Griffiths Auden/Fitz is the main role of the play and he's very good as a slightly irascible, forgetful Fitz and is just as good as the punctuality obsessed, forgetful Auden, who is inclined to pee in the basin.
Adrian Scarborough's Donald is a bit sensitive, a bit neurotic and makes an unforgettable second act entrance! His Humphrey Carpenter is a competent fellow, at first alarmed by Auden mistaking him for a rent boy, but then calming down to interview the poet.
Alex's Henry is a confident, proficient actor, with hints of a slightly seedy youth. He's occasionally exasperated by Fitz and like Frances de la Tour can get a laugh with just a sharp look, discontented sigh or reluctance to shake hands goodbye with a just returned from the lavatory Auden. His Britten is reserved and anxious. Britten's desire for Auden's appreciation of 'Death in Venice' is a bit childlike, but eloquent and passionate.
The balance of rehearsal room and play is perfect, we see enough of the rehearsal to engage with the actors and the learn about the play and then we see what would be the heart of 'Caliban's Day', the meeting between Auden and Britten. All the actors are equally fantastic and seem to relish their roles.
Alan Bennett's The Habit of Art is a frame-story, a play about rehearsing – and making -- a play. In it, then, Alex plays Henry, an actor who takes two parts in the rehearsal of the play-within-the-play, the major role of Benjamin Britten and the role of Auden's servant Mr Boyle. Of these three parts, none is entirely what he might seem to be.
Alex, of course, delineates each character beautifully – watch the way in which body language alone can convey a shift from Benjamin Britten to Henry – and Act II is in some ways his act. He's onstage all of Act I, but often wandering around the margins or simply watching from the side; that act belongs more to Richard Griffiths as the actor Fitz who plays W.H. Auden. The play is structured around the withholding of Henry and Britten, because the character(s) Alex plays reveal themselves behind their masks in Act II, but I confess I wanted him to have more to do earlier on!
It's an interesting, overstuffed play, full of wit and sharpness as well as a few melancholic touches. Frances de la Tour, Adrian Scarborough, and Richard Griffiths are wonderful in the piece. But Alex is a real anchor for the complications of the work – Henry and Benjamin Britten need an actor of his theatrical weight-- and he does a marvelous, perfectly pitched job.