Talk: Richard Eyre

On Tuesday evening I attended a National Theatre Platforms talk with Richard Eyre or Rich (as he’s affectionately known by Judi Dench). Interviewed by Mark Lawson under the towering cross from The James Plays, he talked about his new book ‘What Do I Know?’ a collection of stories on people who he has worked with, problems he’s faced and things that have inspired on him.

Eyre’s list of directing achievements is endless and one that the National attempted to squeeze onto a side of A4. Not only directing theatre, Eyre has also directed the big screen with notable classics Iris and Notes on a Scandal with outstanding success receiving Oscar, Golden Globes and BAFTA wins. Eyre was even Director of the National Theatre from 1988 to 1997 and is now trying his hand at Opera – there is nothing this man can’t do.

He discussed his time at the National, especially working with Mary Soames and the fond memories he had of her. She was apparently very honest and occasionally would tell him he’d made a ‘terrible mistake’ with particular productions. She wasn’t the only one to offer her views as Eyre said that most of his work was always at the suggestion of someone else. Liz Calder told him he should write a book, so he did.

He started as an actor and after feeling useless and neglected in a musical production he knew he wanted to direct so no actor would feel that way. You definitely get the sense Eyre is a fair and compassionate director, he’s on the actor’s side and when asked if would ever fire a cast member he simply said it was an ‘an American thing to do’ and you should always have faith. Some actors hide their hand and only show it once live on stage, however some never deliver and that’s a risk you take.

This was the first Platform event I have attended and it was surprisingly busy but sadly felt a little short. With such an incredible career, I could have listened to Richard Eyre all evening as opposed to the half hour with a 15 minute Q&A, but I’m aware the time was precious so the evening’s performance could begin. It was a great insight into a celebrated director and I will definitely keep a look out for future events.

You can view forthcoming Platforms here.

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