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13 November 2014

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You are in: Jersey > People > Your stories > Washing shirts for Jacobi

Washing shirts for Jacobi

In the fourth part of our ‘odd life’ series we catch up with James Lucas washing shirts for Derek Jacobi.

James Lucas

James with the Twelfth Night poster

When I went to the Wyndham’s Theatre to meet James, I found him in a small cluttered room at the very top of the building. He was stuffing shirts into a washing machine.

That’s because James, at that moment in time, was working not on stage but as a dresser. That’s someone who is responsible for the costumes of any number of actors in a production.

Sounds like a thankless task maybe, but when the shirts belong to Sir Derek Jacobi, you realise how important it is.

Of course James didn’t spend years in Drama School learning to do laundry. He’s a trained actor and dancer, and has taken part in several professional productions.

And like fellow islander James Hunt, the path has led him to the Wyndham’s and its production of Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night in the West End

Twelfth Night in the West End

But the dressing job is only temporary. Twelfth Night closed the day I met James. Taking its place, as part of a four play season, would be Madame de Sade, starring Dame Judy Dench. In fact, her dress was hanging on a rail just behind us as we chatted.

When that play closes, Jude Law will star there in Hamlet; and that’s where James will get his turn in the spotlight.

Because he will be acting in that production, perhaps being dressed by some of the people who were on stage in Twelfth Night. What goes around comes around!

James is a very good example of how versatile you need to be in the theatrical profession. Not everyone can be on stage, taking the applause.

If you can offer another skill, in dressing, costume, make up or props then you have a much better chance of staying employed.

James told me he was really enjoying the work on Twelfth Night, particularly as he had more to look forward to in Hamlet.

Sir Derek Jacobi on the poster for Twelfth Night

Sir Derek Jacobi on the poster for Twelfth Night

In common with the other Jersey stage people I met, he misses the island and returns when he can.

But it can be a gamble; if your agent calls you up to offer an audition the next day, you have to be ready to take the opportunity.

That can mean rearranged flights and a rush back to the City, for an audition which may not even get you anywhere!

James is young, and cheerful about the path he has chosen. It’s easy to be swept along in his enthusiasm for what he’s doing.

When I suggested he could have stayed in Jersey and earned lots of money in a safe (!) financial job, he said “you sound just like my Dad!”

Well, where would you rather be? Sat behind a desk wearing a suit and tie all day or on a West End stage with Jude Law? Tough choice….!

last updated: 10/04/2009 at 11:48
created: 09/04/2009

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