How a school trip to RSC in 1966 started an acting career


Jim Hooper, the actor who is playing Sir Richard Vernon and Silence in Henry IV Part I and Part II, first came to the RSC in 1966 on a school trip. The visit – to see Henry IV – left an indelible mark on Jim.

And he still has the programme for the performance to this day – which he keeps with him as a lucky charm.

The production of Henry IV he saw was directed by Peter Hall and featured performances by actors such as Ian Holm and Paul Rogers.

The production had such a huge impact on the young Jim that he decided on the way home that he wanted to become an actor.

A life-changing experience
He told the Stratford Herald newspaper: 'I've still got the original programme from 1966, in fact I've got it with me full time. It is always on my dressing room table and has become a kind of talisman. I will have it with me in Stratford-upon-Avon – I will be clutching it and it will be on my dressing room table.'

Jim has enjoyed a successful career as a professional actor since the 1980s and has played with us at the RSC in numerous productions.

Throughout that time whenever he has crossed the path of an actor who played in that production of Henry IV in 1966 he has collected their autograph on the programme.

He said to the Stratford Herald: 'I had never experienced anything like it … We'd only been used to painted cloth and cut out trees. It was very exciting.'

Jim will be part of the company that open the latest production of the Henry IV Parts I and II in our summer 2014 season in March. Buy your ticket now.

And you can read all about rehearsals and how the show is coming together in our Whispers from the wings blog. The first post by Martin Bassindale who plays Peto is live now – read more here.

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Teaching Shakespeare