Struggle of an artist

2012-03-27 00:00

ALTHOUGH they both starred in Pieter­ Torien’s staging of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, KickstArt Theatre Company’s production of John Logan’s 2010 Tony Award-winning Red marks the first time that Jeremy­ Richard has had any scenes on stage with his father, Michael.

And, rather than being daunted by the prospect of starring opposite his dad, who appeared in KickstArt’s Duet­ for One with Clare Mortimer and David Mamet’s Race at the Playhouse last year, he’s relishing the opportunity.

“He makes it easy,” Jeremy said. “He doesn’t treat me like his son, but just as another actor.”

As for starring in Red, he admits to being very excited and hopes he can do justice to the role of Ken, assistant to Mark Rothko, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, and whose struggle to accept his growing riches and praise lie at the heart of the play.

Asked to describe his character, Jeremy says: “Ken is very intellectual. He knows who he is and what he wants. He begins the play absorbing what Rothko says and then later starts to stand up for himself.”

In Red, Logan, who wrote the screenplays for Gladiator, The Aviator­, Rango and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, explores the fascinating creative­ process and inner conflict of Rothko who is painting a group of murals­ in his New York studio 1958 to 1959, for the exclusive Four Seasons restaurant.

The audience is witness not only to his passionate and challenging discussion of making art, but also to its actual making — the action of stretching and priming canvases, and the thrill of painting itself.

Jeremy said the decision to become an actor was a natural choice. “From an early age I’ve always been performing and loved being on stage,” saying that growing up in a showbusiness family — his mother is actress Louise Saint-Claire –— had helped prepare him for what can be a tough career. “Most people come into this business thinking they’ll be instantly famous, but you have to work hard to be a success,” he says.

As for what he’d like to do in the future, the Wits University graduate says he’s keen to try his hand at both television and film.

Red, which is presented in association with the National Arts Festival and Daphne Kuhn of the Old Mutual Theatre on the Square, Johannesburg, opens in the Playhouse Loft Theatre in Durban today and runs until April 1. The play will also be staged at the Grahamstown Festival from June 29 to July 1 and at the Old Mutual Theatre on the Square from July 18 to August 12.

Tickets for the Durban season are R120 (R100 pensioners and students) at Computicket.

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