your dad's probably the best James Bond ever (in my opinion and
no disrespect to the others who are not worse just different!) you
wouldn't have blamed Jason Connery if he'd just gone off and been
an accountant or something, to avoid those inevitable comparisons.
he decided on acting and after attending the spartan Gordonstoun
School in Scotland where he acted in school plays, he spent eight
months at the Bristol Old Vic drama school and has never needed
to look back or rely on his famous connections.
big break came in 1984 when he succeeded Michael Praed in the title
role of the popular British TV series Robin of Sherwood.
then his TV credits include a current recurring role in Smallville
while films have included Macbeth, The Successor and Casablanca
Express. He was also nominated for an Australian Oscar for his role
in Winner Takes It All.
The part, or parts, in Sir David Hare's adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's
La Ronde has brought Jason Connery back to both this country and
the stage after years of film and TV work in the United States.
was last seen on stage two years ago when he played Sir Thomas Walsingham
in Roland Joffey's Faithful Dealing and before that hadn't done
theatre for many years. So what was it about this play that brought
I was asked if I would be interested, I knew about it because of
all the publicity surrounding it when Nicole Kidman did it, but
I didn't actually know about the play" he explains. "So
I went out and bought it and discovered many aspects that interested
of these was the concept of playing many different parts, and the
fact that he'd never done a two-hander before. But other 'aspects'
turn out to be much more than characterisation and plot!
"I also realised that I had never sworn on stage before and
I'd never been naked on stage - or 'taken my knickers off' as my
mother would say" he laughs.
also wrote down things that jumped out at me on first reading, things
that related to other scenes, and found it incredibly interesting,
so I said yes to playing the part."
The Blue Room, Jason plays five characters - a cab driver, student,
politician, playwright and aristocrat - in 10 vignettes. But, as
Jason is quick to point out, "they are all archetypes not stereotypes".
very rare that you are asked to play so many parts in one play with
just two actors. It's a real challenge" he adds.
"There's also the diversity of the characters to consider"
he continues. "For example - I'm not just a cab driver or just
a politician. You have to think about how they speak, and where
they're from and most importantly the physicality of the person."
not putting on different wigs and glasses for each character so
it's more about portraying their personality, not just their appearance."
get moments in rehearsals when you think 'help - I don't know what
I'm doing' - but you soon get a handle on it."
what do all these different characters do, and what is the purpose
of their diversity?
the play is about an endless search for the perfect moment or liaison"
"You see each character in two different scenarios. For example,
the cab driver is first seen with a prostitute and then with an
au pair so you see the character in two situations. This shows how
you get what you want from different people in different ways."
then goes on to explain how there are similarities and echoes all
the way through, which keep you thinking.
situations are all very different but linked in a way" he says.
"As a politician I say that I've heard of someone who has five
different kids by five different men. Then in the next scenario
this politician is with a model who says that she still lives at
home with her mum and that there are five of them."
Connery and Tracey Shaw
that here the play may be hinting at the idea of six degrees of
separation. Jason agrees but explains that it is also a lot simpler
just shows that we are all searching for the same thing but in different
ways" he says. "One of the last phrases in the play is
'on we go'. You just keep on going and experiencing in your search."
true' I thought. This play is definitely for me!
hasn't always been to the taste of everybody though. Especially
in the past. When the original La Ronde premiered in Germany in
1921, the police immediately closed it down, arrested the actors
and put them on trial. But while attitudes to censorship may be
different now, the theme is an age-old one.
agrees Jason, "even if you go back to stone age man it was
the same. They were searching for love too but differently - they
may not have been so aware of it."
This is The Blue Room's first national tour, and with mostly full
houses, so far it is being received very well. Audience reactions
though are different as Jason explains:
Cambridge they have cameras everywhere and you could see people
leaving from your dressing room. Some were deep in contemplation
and some were having arguments - you could see them gesticulating
wildly at each other. Unfortunately we couldn't get any sound"
play can be simplistic. People meet, have sex, and part, and that's
fine. But you can also see more into it than that if you want."
is so good about Hare is that he writes very specifically and he
leaves things unsaid" he explains. "It's not so good when
everything is completely explained by the playwright because it
doesn't leave you a lot to do. With Hare the audience is allowed
to make their own assumptions."
Connery and Tracey Shaw
like life" he continues, "where things are not neatly
packaged into a scene, and questions are left unanswered."
not like a soap where you know that at the end of that week - or
story line - everything will be sorted out. Loose ends will be tied
up, the villains will get their come-uppance and you move onto the
next story. People watch soaps because they make them feel safe
and make them feel that the world is alright. Life just isn't like
interesting hearing what people have to say about it" he says.
"Some expect it to be more intellectual but it is very, very
simple really - the basic search is very simple. The search for
that perfect liaison is a physical and emotional search not an intellectual
one. You don't sit down and say - now the idea of love is
with the stars of the screen you get the feeling that they get a
script and just turn up and say their lines with out too much thought.
And if they forget them, they can just do another take. Which, apart
from the financial aspect, is why you don't often see too many of
them on the stage.
But with Jason Connery, after only a few minutes of conversation,
you know that you could just talk to him about theatre forever.
This is the kind of man you want at dinner parties! But with numerous
TV and film credits behind him, has it been difficult to get back
to live theatre?
not too difficult to come back to" he says. "Once you
get to being on stage it's OK. And during the rehearsal period you
follow a similar path. But you do tend to forget that there's usually
a terrible moment when you don't know what you're doing - but it
all comes together in the end."
play is difficult as well because with a two-hander there's no respite.
"In other plays you may get a scene off" he says.
Connery and Tracey Shaw
into a theatrical family, his father is Scottish-born Sean Connery
and his mother is the Australian actress Diane Cilento, it is easy
to think that he had no other choice but to follow in their footsteps.
there's always a choice" he says. "But I can't say what
I would have done instead. This is what I have chosen to do and
the path that I've followed so can't talk about any other scenario.
But I can say that I do enjoy what I do and not everybody can say
what's next? "At the moment I'm booked until the end of May
and I don't think further ahead than that" he says.
all part of being an actor living that kind of existence" he
explains. "It's almost like being in a play itself. Two people
can be sitting down at dinner and nothing happens in that scene.
But if you're an actor, you look for something terrible to happen
in that scene so that you can react to it. It's the excitement of
not knowing what's going to happen."
as Jason points out, this is the same for everyone, even if they
have a seemingly steady job compared to an actor.
is like a play you haven't seen before. You don't know what's going
to happen next. Who does know what they'll be doing in six months
time? But wouldn't life be boring if you did?"
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