After being part of the 2018 Swan Company, Graeme Brookes is back this year performing in As You Like It and Measure for Measure in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Hello Ladies & Gents,

I'm back this year with a different Company in a different theatre, working together on As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew & Measure for Measure. There are 27 of us, and each actor will be in two of the shows. We are becoming more of a rep company, reflective of all facets of society including gender, background, disabilities and experience. I think it’s great for the RSC to have been so forward in this respect and it benefits us as a company of actors as it empowers us to feel like we are flying a flag, so to speak – which is handy considering we started in November 2018 and the contract runs until at least April 2020.

So about us . . . We open As You Like It in 2 days! Eeeeek. I am typing this from my dressing room listening to day 3 of our tech rehearsals. All has been relatively calm and cool, which for a technical rehearsal is often not the case. It’s a great play – does that thing that Shakespeare does so well, which is provides you everything and meets everyone’s needs to speak. It has its soppy love moments, incredibly sad moments, laugh out loud moments, heavy dramatic moments and it also has a man in incredibly tight shorts wrestling – what is there not to love?

Two men sit on the floor in rehearsal, the man in the foreground smiling as he rests his chin on his hand.
Graeme in rehearsals for As You Like It.
Photo by Topher McGrillis © RSC Browse and license our images

It’s been a really interesting rehearsal process – Director Kim’s way of working has been brilliant as an actor. She really includes you in everything and is open and receptive to every idea. This seems normal to Kim; however, I know many a director that does the opposite. She embraces the collaboration between actor and director and promotes the Company taking ownership of the play and the journey it takes. Don’t get me wrong, she knows when to put her foot down regarding a decision, but she has made it a refreshing experience. I had a seasoned actor once tell me that a ‘bad director is the one that tells you what to do and where to stand’ – thus making Kim in my eyes a very, very good director. I’ve really enjoyed working with her and it's brilliant to see that she is back doing The Whip in the Swan in the Autumn/Winter season.

Graeme (front left) in performance in The Duchess of Malfi.
Graeme and the Company in last year's The Duchess of Malfi.
Photo by Helen Maybanks © RSC Browse and license our images

As I suppose this is a blog about me and my thoughts, I just wanted to say how cool this is for me to be back at the RSC and particularly doing Shakespeare. If you read my last blog when I finished up with the last Swan season, I told both Gregory Doran and Hannah from Casting how much I had enjoyed my time, but that I could do more and I wanted to be back here to prove it. And so, they’ve brought me back and given me a little promotion, and now I need to knock it out of the park.

I can remove that pressure a little by giving myself a reality check about my being here, given the background I’m from - where to be honest, theatre isn’t embraced as it may be in others. When I told folks last year that I was performing in The Duchess of Malfi and Mrs Rich at the Royal SHAKESPEARE Company after 13 odd years, the genuine reply I got from most was “Oh, you aren’t doing Shakespeare? That’s a shame.” Well, guess what . . . Now I am doing bloody Shakespeare! Which is cool but it’s also incredibly intimidating – doing a Shakespeare, in the main house of the Royal Shakespeare Company AND one of your directors is the Shakespeare guru – Gregory Doran. Typing that out genuinely made me do one of those nervous laugh/snorts. Bring it on, I say.

Well, I will leave you in a minute as I have to go and admit to killing a deer in the Forest of Arden. Sorry about that.

Take care.

Graeme. x

Graeme Brookes

Graeme Brookes

Graeme Brookes has been an actor for 13 years. He is a native of the Black Country, supports Walsall FC, likes Vimto and Pick & Mix. Follow Graeme on Twitter @Mr_Brookes04

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