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You are in: Norfolk » Going Out » Stage

22 October 2002 1648 BST
West comes to the east
PIc: Timothy West in King Lear.
Timothy West: In a rage as King Lear

One of Britain's best-known actors, Timothy West, is also the president of the Norwich Playhouse.

Lyn McKinney caught up with him when he came to the city to star in King Lear.


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SEE ALSO
King Lear review

Ian Ogilvy interview

Jonathan Wilkes & Daniel MacPherson interview

Theatre guide
FACT FILE
Norwich Playhouse,
St George's Street,
Norwich,
NR3 1AB
Tel: 01603 612580
Fax: 01603 617728
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The Norwich Playhouse opened in 1995 and has recently received a £325,000 loan from the city council to help secure its future.

Timothy West, a former artistic director at the Old Vic in Bristol, talks about his role in King Lear and how he hopes the government will provide more funding to councils for arts projects.

Is King Lear the part every actor aspires to after Hamlet?

It's very rewarding and very infuriating because every night you feel like you're climbing an enormous mountain and sometimes you get half-way up and other times you're just in the foothills.

Pic: Timothy West.
Timothy West in the English Touring Theatre's King Lear

It would be nice to do it seven times a week with the same sort of perfect performance - but there's no such thing.

Today you're at the Norwich Playhouse.

It's lovely to be back.

What is it that you like about the playhouse?

When Henry Burke built it with a lot of advice from different people he was after an adaptable stage which would do for about the right number of people in a very nice setting by the river with a little courtyard.

It was originally designed as a producing theatre - what we used to call a rep - but that didn't work.

Possibly there are too many theatres in Norwich, with the Royal at one end of the scale and the Maddermarket at the other.

Maybe it wasn't necessary to have a professional repertory theatre, which we thought might be needed.

But it does very well at what it does at the moment, which is take shows for one or two night visits. A great variety of things: jazz concerts, plays, little musicals.

The playhouse has been loaned money by the city council to lift the weight of responsibility of debt.
Is there anything which you think the government could do to ease the situation of theatres?

Yes, I think they could. I think if there was some sort of mandatory provision to local authorities for the arts - which there never has been, it's up to local authorities to find their own pennies - that would ease things enormously.

It would have to be under control and it would be. You can't just have people sprouting up things which are fun for them.

But for a project like this, it is wonderful that we've been let off the accumulated debt which was bound to occur.

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