Newport Playgoers’ Jack Guard Discusses Directional Debut with Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker

Newport Playgoers Society continue their season with the classic Harold Pinter play, The Caretaker at Newport’s Dolman Theatre this April.

The Caretaker finds Aston bringing Davies, a tramp with pretensions into his derelict household shrine. All that is left of Davies’ past now is the existence in Sidcup of some papers that will prove exactly who he is and enable him to start again. Aston also has dreams: he has always been good with his hands and there is so much to do in the house. Aston’s hopes are tied to his flash brother Mick’s; he has aspirations to live in a luxurious apartment. However, human nature is a big spoiler of plans…

The Caretaker will see the directional debut of Newport-born actor, Jack Guard. Here, in the first of a short series of interviews, Jack discusses the play with Andy Howells.

Is this your first association with Newport Playgoers Society?

It’s my directional debut! I saw the advertisement on social media that they were looking for directors to direct the season. When I saw Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker was included, it was the perfect opportunity I couldn’t let go by, as I had studied Pinter in University. So, I put my pitch towards the artistic committee.

What made you want to direct The Caretaker as opposed to act in it?

There were a few plays this season of which I did think about performance, Cat on A Hot Tin Roof being one of them, but it came down to commitment and free time.

For The Caretaker, I just had an overall vision that I wanted to put in place as a director and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do it for a director’s piece. There are lots of themes in it. I wanted to play with the direction in terms of lighting, sound and set design.  

The play must have captured your imagination.

Yes, absolutely! Having a small male cast and watching them grow is something that’s intriguing for me. Just to watch the different vulnerabilities come through, they all encompass, interchange and play each other in a certain way and that’s what’s interesting about it.

Jack Guard makes his directional debut with Newport Playgoers’ The Caretaker by Harold Pinter.

Who do you hope is going to come and see The Caretaker?

I was hoping to get a lot of attraction from local schools. I believe it was once on the curriculum, so I’ve still yet to send some emails to other schools to invite them along. Harold Pinter was a very successful playwright and still very well-known. He’s very different to a lot of other playwrights.

There’s a lot of “Pinter pause” ( when the stage directions indicate pause and silence and the characters are not speaking) which create dramatic effect and that will be prominent in this piece. Hopefully the way Pinter writes, and the outlook will bring people in.

Is The Caretaker total drama or is there some comedy in there as well?

There is an element of comedy, especially with the character Davies who is very scatty. It’s very much a tragicomedy, very emotive. There are some certain phrases, lines and actions that should get a laugh or two.

James Reynolds, Ryan Salter and Chris Bissex-Williams in rehearsal for Newport Playgoers production of The Caretaker directed by Jack Guard. The play runs at the Dolman theatre, Newport from April 19th – April 22nd, 2023. Photo by Paul Johnson / Pixels in Time.

What do you hope the audience will take away from seeing The Caretaker?

The fact that not all is well sometimes. There’s a lot that happens behind closed doors. This certainly happens in Davies’ case. He’s brought to the flats by one of the brothers who saves him from a brawl. The brother brings him into their home, offers him money, clothes, shoes and a bed to sleep in and then offers him a job as caretaker, Davies turns it down and then the other brother offers him the same job. Davies sort of plays both brothers at the same time, so there’s a vindictiveness and craftiness.

It’s not always good to play games with people. I suppose that’s one thing I’d like the audience to take away, just be truthful and honest, always see the right in people.

How has your directorial experience on The Caretaker gone so far?

It’s it’s been a fabulous experience, especially having been out of the industry for some time, this has been a perfect opportunity to get back into it. I’ve had so much fun working with the cast, Chris Bissex-Williams, James Reynolds and Ryan Salter who are three brilliant performers. They have worked with me collaboratively on this process. It’s been hard, we had our first script read-through in December and our first rehearsal during the second week of January and those are continuing now. Although it’s been hard and a graft, it’s also been fun!

Director Jack Guard with the cast of Newport Playgoers’ presentation of The Caretaker, James Reynolds, Chris Bissex-Williams and Ryan Salter. Photo by Andy Howells

So, Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker has whetted your appetite?

We’ve just heard about the next Newport Playgoers season, so hopefully I’ll be able to dabble with both some directing and performance!

  • Newport Playgoers’ production of The Caretaker runs at the Dolman Theatre, Newport from April 19th – April 22nd, 2023. Performances start at 7:15pm, with an additional matinee performance at 2:00pm on the Saturday. For ticket availability visit

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: