18th March 2009
Here I am back in the UK again after my trip to Boise, Idaho and family affairs, all good fun and comfort to my soul as usual. The weather was very interesting 19 degrees celcius one day and -2 the next, with blizzards. Hope the great and the good get their global warming act together soon or we wont have to worry about the recession, we just won't be around to enjoy the recovery. So it’s just a matter now of getting over the jet lag; they say one day for every hour of the time difference, seven hours for me, so seven days and I am into day four.
Things are pretty grim in the US, with financial situation. Tent cities are being set up already just outside some cities. What we forget here, is that there is no real fallback provision there, like we have, no cheap housing and no free medical care. When you have lost everything job, home, car etc, then you can ask for welfare and - imagine the humiliation – food stamps. People do sadly, get very low before they get any help. Of course though it does make the Americans very resourceful, which is why they will probably get out of this mess quicker than anyone else.
I am very excited as I am planning to make my own first short in a month, a scary picture, since the genre is so popular, I wont talk too much about it since I’d rather have it made and edited, first. I will produce it and act in it. However I think the day of short films to be viewed on computer, mobile phone, YouTube etc is here to stay and may one day overtake conventional television. When that happens of course it wont just be short films, it will be everything. I am sure we wont lose our huge blockbusters from the studios, but there will much more to see and many more opportunities for film makers like me.
My partner in this venture is a Director, Patricia Doyle, with whom I roomed, when we were both at RADA. Patricia has lately been doing a lot of co-directing for the Northern Ballet, an outstanding company, with many innovative and exciting new ballets on their slate. Last year they did ’Hamlet’, which was extraordinary and wonderful. It was very surprising to me as ‘Hamlet’ is the ultimate play of Shakespeare’s words and yet it worked brilliantly without words. How amazing is that?
Christopher Hinton-Lewis and Georgina May in David Nixon's Hamlet
Patricia and I were both young budding actresses at this time in our lives and we were with some extraordinary people there, including John Thaw and Tom Courtney. John was so streetwise and different from anyone I had met in my sheltered little life. Unfortunately it was this sheltered facade that got me the title of ‘posh’ which dogged me all my career and was no help at all in the sixties, the age of working class and rough and ready. As I have said before, I have always felt completely classless due to my parents’ different backgrounds, theatrical folk and German refugees, both educated and my own real poverty growing up in a three storey walk up flat, with the lavatory and the bathroom, both two flights down and shared with another family.
RADA days were fun though. We lived in the flat of a very eccentric Irish lady, who had a stall in the Portobello market and was always talking about the many lovers in her life. While we were there, another actor Rodney Bewes of ‘The Likely Lads’ fame had a room also: we suspected that he might be another of landlady
G’s fancies. This delightful lady was well in her sixties, but without any awkwardness, regarding her interesting love life.
Patricia and I were both also young hopefuls in The National Youth Theatre, and were among the very first girls, it having been only boys until then, under the brilliant direction of Michael Croft, who influenced me greatly in his love and understanding of Shakespeare. I played Portia for him in ‘Julius Caesar’. Michael’s ability to communicate his understanding of Shakespeare made him one of the most remarkable Directors I ever worked with. Later when I was living in Los Angeles, he came out in the hunt for money to progress a joining of the Youth Theatre with the California Youth Theatre. I nearly persuaded John Daly another old friend to put up the money. Having said he would, John’s hard headed Hollywoodness returned him to his senses and he backed out, leaving Michael to return to the UK empty handed and sad. Michael is one of the few people I really respected and appreciated in my life, in his genuine love of the theatre and all that is good about it.
They were many of us young wannabes in Michael’s Company: Ian McShane, Ken Farrington, Hywel Bennet, Neil Stacey, Simon Ward, Michael York, Colin Farrell, John Shrapnel, David Weston etc. The National Youth Theatre has done superbly well, but I don’t think it has shined quite so brightly as it did in those days of Michael Croft.
My final word this time is that I hope California soon gets out of its sad financial state and can find some money to fix its roads!!!!