Tuesday, May 18

Samuel West: ‘On Screen I Play Mainly Evil Establishment Members or Victorian Perverts’ | Samuel West

SAmuel West, 54, one of the greatest verse speakers of his generation, has played Hamlet, Anthony Blunt (twice) and recently became Siegfried Farnon on channel 5 All creatures great and small; he is currently working on the second series. Son of Prunella Scales and Timothy West, he lives with his partner, playwright Laura Wade, and their two daughters, ages six and three. Wade’s West Production The Watsons it was scheduled to open in the West End when the first closure occurred.

What has been the best part of the home? teaching?
Teaching chess to my daughters. The three-year-old is still not playing, but she knows how the pieces move. It teaches them pattern recognition, what helps with music and math, and how to lose well and fight peacefully. And it is simply an exciting game.

What books do you read with them?
We like fairy tales with a twist, like Princess Smartypants Y Interstellar cinderella, about a girl who wants to repair spaceships: the prince’s spaceship breaks down and she fixes it. When he says “Do you want to marry me?”, She says “No, I’m too young.” the Rebellious girls Books are regular reading at bedtime. And, always, Moomin books. Tove Jansson is a great guide to the strange and the different. When the little critters bring another friend home, Moominmamma just sighs and leaves another place at the table. That’s really important now: the idea that a friend can come from anywhere.

Did you overlap with Boris Johnson at Oxford?
Not politically, but yes, for a year. I once saw him leaning on the ground at a party at a house in Jericho. I think this is the only time we’ve ever been in the same room.

What did you learn from your parents about acting and being an actor?
The first thing was the unemployment statistics – I could absolutely tell you what proportion of Equity members were working when I was 10 years old, and not much has changed. I learned that it was a trade that wanted to be an art, and sometimes it was. That it was worth doing correctly. That it was worth persevering.

Do you feel in danger of being pigeonholed?
On stage, people trust me to be different. On screen I play mostly evil members of the white system or perverted Victorians. Nobody has my politics, nor my “tired dad” vibe.

What role would you like to play the most?
Anything in a Sondheim Musical: The Judge of Sweeney Todd, the narrator in In the woods. And Doctor Who, of course.

You installed a pandemic poetry jukebox in Soundcloud. How did it work?
I make a call on twitter about reading poetry. Twenty-four hours later, he had received requests for 650 different poems. I started with Hardy’s The Darkling Thrush because in Wuhan, for the first time in a generation, you could hear birdsong, and because of the idea that there may be hope in a non-human species. The most requested was The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry, a beautiful poem about calm and the importance of nature. For six months we did 600 poems and we had almost 400,000 listens, it was like a race in the West End.

Has bird watching been a comfort during the confinement?
Not as much as we would like. For the past five years, on January 1, we have traveled the Silk Road for bird watching that runs through North Norfolk – we woke up at 4 a.m. M. To drive up Lynford Arboretum at dawn. And although we are exhausted and hungover, we never regret it. That had to be canceled this year. But our local patch on N1, the New River Walk, which we hike with the kids, is always a comfort.

What work of art would you like to see every day?
Anything from Frank Auerbach or Bridget Riley.

West with Nicholas Ralph, Callum Woodhouse and Anna Madeley in All Creatures Great and Little.
West with Nicholas Ralph, Callum Woodhouse and Anna Madeley in All Creatures Great and Little. Photograph: Matt Squire / AP

How will the theater recover from the pandemic?
The £ 1.57bn ransom is welcome and has been well distributed by the Arts Council. He will keep the crown jewels. But unless you take care of the people who remove the jewelry, you are not going to have crowns. The most important thing is: support the self-employed and eliminate visa and card rules.

I have an idea to help restart the regional theater. If we could get actors to fill the theater, adequate [big-name] film and television stars – to do a play at the regional theater closest to where they grew up. They could say: I will come in 2022 for four weeks, I will take the salary of the company and I do not need the play to transfer. That would really help. It’s the kind of civic pride that even the Daily mail could buy. And those who haven’t done a play in a while will have no more fun doing anything than going to a rehearsal room and going back to their roots.

Does Twitter make life better?
Yes and no, and increasingly no. It has recently become a louder and angrier place. Having conversations that you cordially disagree on would be easier in the pub, with human closeness and eye contact. Said that I learn a lot from that: I find my trusted news sources in him, and I’ve met some great people I would never have met otherwise.

What makes you angry?
Quite. Putting someone with no knowledge of infectious diseases or public health in charge of testing and tracing. The shrinking of our national identity to a country obsessed with our borders. This bogus culture war, which dismisses any notion of pluralism as “awakened.” I remember someone else’s tweet: “There is something absolutely peculiar about a society that sits on its isolated island, rotting fish, demolished exports, amid a high and avoidable death toll, voting for people who do not feed the children or pay the nurses properly, just clapping. ”


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