Alfred Uhry’s acclaimed play, Driving Miss Daisy is to set delight Everyman Theatre audiences from Monday 9 to Saturday 14 October 2017, promising an uplifting comedy drama.
Discussing the play’s timeless charm, his role as driver Hoke Colburn, and his touring necessities, Derek Griffiths talks all-things theatre in this interview.
It’s a pleasant character and I like the history that’s attached to it, especially the Civil Rights Movement. For the younger elements of our audience who perhaps don’t have much knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement and the division between black and white, it’s a good thing for them to learn about.
It’s also a charming play. It’s quite amazing how you get the contrast between the two characters with a huge divide, a huge moat, between them and how friendship joins them together towards the end. It’s heart-warming.
No, not at all [laughs] apart from being a driver. But I’ve always liked character work and playing someone who is so outside of me. Strapping on a character is part of the joy of the business.
Hoke does ages but it’s a gradual process. It happens over a few scenes. And I know quite a few octogenarians who haven’t slowed down at all so it’s quite difficult to gauge it really.
Octogenarians in our business go on until the end whereas I know people outside of the business at age 50 or 60 who are acting like old men. You take a pick out of each one and dress it up slowly.
Everybody talks about the charm of the play and it's all-encompassing.
I think it’s the charm of it. Everybody remembers the film and I’ve met fewer people who have seen the play, but everybody talks about the charm of it and it’s all-encompassing.
A lot of people who are normally non-theatregoers are telling me they’re coming to see it and it’s because of the charm and the fact it’s an easily digestible piece.
Yes, absolutely, especially with Mr Trump. It’s amazing how it’s all come back to the fore and has become far more relevant.
If you think in terms of the rioting that’s happening, the play goes right through that 1963 period where we have the rioting and the bombings in Alabama and the lynching.
It’s all there within the piece but it’s very gentle – it’s in the background. It’s mentioned but it isn’t sort of pressed upon.
My first play in the business was at the Greenwich Theatre in 1969 and it was a documentary on stage about Martin Luther King so none of it is really new to me. We covered that extensively. But it’s awakened my memory of it.
No, I didn’t leave Coronation Street for that reason. I’m a nomad and I signed a contract for a year. Corrie was so enjoyable and I loved doing it, I loved the cast and I loved the crew. It was a joy to do; the administration were beautiful people.
You couldn’t fault that job, but I was doing 2,000 miles a month and towards the end of that year it was wearing me out so I thought ‘I’ve done a year and that’s it’.
I saw the film years and years ago, but watching it again wouldn’t be a help really. The stage version is the thing and I wanted to bring a freshness to it.
It’s a joy. It’s like opening a Christmas present every day. She’s a joy to work with and a consummate professional. You couldn’t ask for better.
It’s a joy too. He’s very thorough and that’s what I like. He’s caring and he’s thorough and that’s the support you need, especially coming back to the theatre after five or six years away.
The last big production I did was at the Royal Exchange, then I went over to voiceovers and back to television. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but to come back to the theatre and work with such a talented director is what the business is all about. He’s the sculptor and I’m the piece of clay. I just love that process.
I drive and I'm driven by inspiration from the other artists. That's the joy of coming back to the theatre because it's a real team job.
You’re in control. You don’t have film editors so you’re in control of your own performance from the minute you walk across the stage.
You’re there without a safety net whereas in television you have the safety net of being able to cut the scene and start again. You can’t do that in theatre and what I love about theatre is walking through a scene without that safety net. You are in total and utter control.
The ritual is getting there and not being delayed. That’s the nightmare and it’s with you all day. Your day starts with ‘I’ve got to get there and make sure I get there early’.
[Laughs] Confidence. That’s all really. Confidence is everything. If I walk through the door in a negative state it shows in the performance.
I likened it the other day to watching the athletics in London recently, where one guy was saying ‘I made a mistake there but I’m not going to dwell on it because you have to move on’ and I knew exactly what he was talking about.
You can do a line and slip up on it, then it’s in your mind and because it’s in your mind you’re not concentrating and what happens? You fall over the next line. You need to be positive and not dwell on any negativity.
In terms of performing, it’s a bit of both – I drive and I’m driven by inspiration from the other artists. That’s the joy of coming back to the theatre because it’s a real team job.
Thursday 05 October 2017
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