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BWW Interview: West End Star Thomas Aldridge Talks Shakespeare@'s Radio Play Production of THE TEMPEST

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Aldridge is reunited with his HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD co-star Jamie Ballard for the Shakespeare@ all-free radio play, THE TEMPEST, launching October 1.

BWW Interview: West End Star Thomas Aldridge Talks Shakespeare@'s Radio Play Production of THE TEMPEST
Thomas Aldridge

Thomas Aldridge, who is perhaps best known for starring as Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End, is bringing his talents to a new, creative production! Aldridge is lending his voice to the newly created Shakespeare@ Home free radio play of The Tempest, reuniting with his Harry Potter and the Cursed Child co-star Jamie Ballard (Harry Potter), and starring alongside a cast of West End vets as well as Broadway and Hollywood stars.

Adapted and directed by Artistic Director Sean Hagerty, and featuring original music and sound design, the first episode of The Tempest launches this Thursday, October 1st at 7PM. Free to download and stream at www.shakespeare-at.org and on all digital platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and more, The Tempest will be released in four weekly parts- parts 2, 3 and 4 are out on October 8th, 15th, and 22nd at 7pm.

We spoke with Aldridge about re-connecting with his Harry Potter and the Cursed Child co-star, how preparing for a radio play compares to preparing for the physical stage and more!

For more information visit: www.shakespeare-at.org


Tell me how you got involved with Shakespeare@! What were your thoughts when you heard about this production of The Tempest?

I got involved with Shakespeare@ via my good friend Jamie Ballard who had just finished playing the title role Richard II in their previous Shakespeare@ Home production. Jamie and I share a dressing room in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London (he plays Harry and I play Ron Weasley) and he had already been cast in The Tempest as Stephano. Sean Haggerty, who is the brilliant Artistic Director behind Shakespeare@, was looking for someone to play alongside Jamie as Trinculo and Jamie very kindly recommended me. We set up a zoom call so I could chat with Sean and that's where it all started.

I was very aware of some of the brilliant site-specific productions Sean had directed in New York with Shakespeare@ and had heard great things from friends both in New York and over here who had been to see them. Stephano and Trinculo have always been by far my favourite roles in The Tempest and I've seen them portrayed in a number of different ways and tones, and I've long wanted to have a crack at either of them so I was so thrilled to be asked to play Trinculo. To be honest, it was right in the middle of lockdown and just the idea of doing something creative was really exciting. Not to mention working with my roommate again and on something so original. The idea of putting on this piece and recording simultaneously with actors, in their homes all over the globe really excited me so I was thrilled to be asked on board. (If you pardon the pun.)

Talk to me about the differences in preparing for a radio play vs. a live stage production. What was the rehearsal process like?

The rehearsal process was much like rehearsing for a live theatre piece. Only much much shorter. Obviously, the emphasis is on how we sound, however we set up the rehearsal remotely so we could see each other and it felt like we were all in the same room. We pulled the scenes apart, tried them a number of different ways much like you would in a rehearsal studio. The rehearsals with Jamie and Sean and the amazing Jonathan Forbes who plays Caliban were hilarious. I actually miss not seeing those guys on my computer screen every night. I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time!

What was it like to perform and record this production? Walk me through that process!

BWW Interview: West End Star Thomas Aldridge Talks Shakespeare@'s Radio Play Production of THE TEMPESTWhat was glorious and one of my favorite parts of the process was when the whole cast came together remotely on a video call and read the play as our final rehearsal before recording. After we had rehearsed each scene in our groups separately, we all reconvened on our computer screens, on different sides of the globe and just read the play. There were actors in England, Australia and of course all over America. Some in the early hours of their mornings, some in their evenings, some who'd just finished their lunch but we all met together in a kind of online rehearsal studio and read The Tempest.

When it came to the actual recording of the play, it was very different. We did each scene separately, spread out over a week and a half. So we were all scheduled at different times.

In terms of our recording schedule, it was more like what you would find shooting a TV episode or film. It took the pressure off a little, not recording it live, and it meant we could try things a number of different ways and give them some different options when editing. However, we were on a pretty tight schedule so there wasn't too much room for mistakes. It was only those who were in that particular scene that were called, as well, of course, Sean the director, and the sound engineers, who were just incredible. They had a mammoth task battling time zones, storms and temperamental internet connections to capture the sound!

What was it like reuniting with your 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' co-star Jamie Ballard?

Working with Jamie again was just heavenly. There's not too many people in the world I could share a dressing room with, a stage with, the crazy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child schedule with, not to mention some incredibly tight spaces under the stage with, and still miss him when we aren't together! We are great pals and I admire him an awful lot both as an actor and as a human being. We didn't expect to not be coming back to work when we last left our dressing room (as you'd see if you revisited it) so to get to link up with him on something so different was just brilliant.

How does it feel to be a part of such a creative and innovative production that is allowing people to access theatre in a new way during this time?

I think people really yearn for creativeness during this strange time. I know I do. To watch people being creative and innovative is something I find really inspiring and quite therapeutic at the best of times but even more so now. To get to be one of those being creative is really great for the soul. Add to that the fact that this is so accessible, I think it's a really wonderful project and I'm really proud to be involved in it.


To listen to The Tempest online, visit www.shakespeare-at.org!


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