This autumn Black RAT Productions and Blackwood Miner’s Institute will present a co-production of ART for their Tour of Wales 2019 supported by Arts Council Wales and Welsh Assembly Government; the first national tour of Wales of this award-winning comedy. The production will star three of Wales’ finest comedy actors in the lead roles with Gareth John Bale as Serge, Keiron Self as Yvan, with actor and director Richard Tunley as Marc who is also directing the piece. The comedy will tour to 17 venues across Wales from Tuesday October 1.
We catch up with Richard Tunley: Director and the character of Marc in Black RAT’s production of ART.
Tell us who you play in ART and about their character
I play Marc. His best friend, Serge, has bought a piece of modern art for an extortionate amount of money & he thinks that Serge has sold himself short by buying this painting. Marc prides himself in his maverick attitude to the pretentious nature of contemporary art – his view of course! Although caused by the painting, the rift in their friendship is far deeper & home truths start coming out!
You are MR Black RAT having founded the company and directed all and sometimes performed in productions. What is so special for you about the company?
I started Black RAT with Lewis Cook as a vehicle to enable resting actors to work on projects & to give opportunities for emerging professionals to develop their skills. Our first production, Edward Albee’s A ZOO STORY was an immediate sell-out success. The company quickly became successful in working with venues to tour work that normally wouldn’t tour to them professionally. Our wonderful co-production status with Blackwood Miners’ Institute has enabled us to produce some of the best modern & classic plays. We still hold the importance of supporting new professionals close to our remit and over the years we’ve made sure that each show allows us to provide work for an emerging theatre pro. So, we’ve had newly graduated actors, stage managers, costume & set designers and technical designers work with us. This year we have Charly Brookman as our Deputy Stage Manager – a new graduate of The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama; and Emrys Barnes is our emerging director. Both are making terrific contributions to the company of ART.
What helps you decide on the production to be performed and what elements are you looking for?
We try and select a play that contrasts to the previous year and one which is obviously a comedy. We’ve ranged from the broad physical comedy of plays such as John Godber’s BOUNCERS and THE 39 STEPS through to classic farces such as BOEING BOEING and contemporary ‘classics’ such as ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS. We’re lucky that our reputation enables us to secure the rights to some great titles. We were the first professional company to produce THE 39 STEPS after it closed in London and, likewise, ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS. It has taken us a few years to get the right to ART and we’re excited to have the opportunity to tour it nationally throughout Wales. We’ve grown to understand our audiences and we have a loyal following which we are very proud of.
How do you feel about working with Keiron and Gareth again? An experience obviously worth repeating.
Honestly? It’s a dream. Gareth is playing Serge, the friend who buys the painting and Keiron is playing Yvan, the friend who gets caught in the middle. I’ve worked with Gareth many, many times but not so many on stage with him as an actor. I’m really enjoying the rapport we have, and I trust him 100% which is so important in a play with only three characters! With Keiron in the mix too, it’s a joy to rehearse. I’ve always admired Kieron’s ability as an actor. He is inventive and he brings so much to rehearsals. All three of us were in Alan Ayckbourn’s BEDROOM FARCE when we toured it with Black RAT but I didn’t have any scenes with a Keiron, so I was very excited to get the opportunity to work with him again. The relationships between Marc, Serge & Yvan are quite tricky and it’s brilliant to have these two very clever and talented actors on board.
What do you hope is the audience experience when they see ART?
ART is a fantastic play. It’s funny, of course, but it also explores friendship and the inability for men to communicate – quite a topical issue today! Each of the characters talk to the audience at some point to give their side of the argument & to try & get the audience on side! I’m confident the audience will have a great time, but I think they will also experience why ART is such a brilliant play. It keeps the audience guessing and the interaction between the three friends is quite something! The white painting that Serge has bought is the catalyst that brings things to a head, but the importance of friendship and the influence friends can have on us is central to the play. It really is a wonderful play. I can’t wait to take it out to our audiences.
Further information is available at http://www.blackratproductions.co.uk along with links to the venues Box Office’s to book tickets.