American-born British actor and comedian, Rhashan Stone is a classically trained singer, musician and composer, and also works occasionally as a playwright.
He has now joined the cast of All About Eve in the role as Lloyd Richards, in another NT Live production, ahead of their 10th Birthday in June.
All About Eve is adapted by Ivo van Hove from the 1950 Twentieth Century Fox film by Joseph L Mankiewicz and the play “The Wisdom of Eve” by Mary Orr. Ivo van Hove directs this new stage version with set and lighting design from Jan Versweyveld, costume design by An D’Huys and music from double Mercury Prize-winner PJ Harvey.
The play tells the story of Margo Channing, a true star of the theatre. The spotlight is hers, always has been. But now there’s Eve. Her biggest fan. Young, beautiful Eve – the golden girl, the girl next door.
Lifting the curtain on a world of jealousy and ambition, this new production, from one of the world’s most innovative theatre directors, Ivo van Hove addresses our fascination with celebrity, youth and identity.
All About Eve is such a relevant piece – when it was written, society had such an obsession with celebrity, and it would appear that nothing has changed.
What was the appeal for you to be apart of this production?
“The relevance of the play is so important. Although the production is a timeless production, and you are not sure what period you are in, it has a very classic feel to it; the costumes, the set and the lighting, make it feel very glamorous and of its time.”
What you do realize, in this modern age, is that it is becoming more and more difficult to be a true star. Back in the day, the arrival of say someone like Michael Jackson, would bring whole countries to a stand still. Now because the internet has made everything so accessible, we have hugely famous people, but we don’t really have that many true stars. So I think people really enjoy coming to the theatre and just believe that this person they are seeing, Margot Channing, is a true star in the old school sense of the word. There is something so glamorous and pleasing for audiences.”
It is nice to go back to an era where that is pure; where the person with that stardom is untouchable. Now everyone who is everyone is a celebrity.
“What is nice in the play is the way people talk about Margot, the leading actress, that she is really good. That is what really pops out in the show. We have so many audiences of different ages. But it is this idea that it is someone who has a tangible skill. She is an actress in the theatre and people love her because of what she can do. It does belong to an era that has passed.”
Talking about talent and skill, you do everything – is there anything you can’t do?
“I was so lucky, because I went to a school where you could try anything; we had access to so many things. If you wanted to try sport, you could, if you wanted to play an instrument, they had an onsite orchestra who stored their instruments there. We were really encouraged to pick up things and try it and as a result I am the type of person who has his finger in so many pies. It started from a young age. I enjoy it all. I get to write, act, sing… I am very fortunate.”
Is there one skill that you prefer at all?
“They are all very different. Some things are more cerebral, like the writing, and then on the opposite end, I love singing and it bypasses the brain. Together all the things I do make up one thing that I love. So if I had to choose one, I would miss the rest.”
NT LIVE mixes the film and theatre genres – how has this challenged you as an performer?
“We are lucky as we have a lot of cameras in the production. The difficulties that we had, we had already overcome. So for example, there were scenes where myself and Monica Dolan, who plays my wife in the play, would start in an anti room on camera and then we would appear on stage, and so we would essentially transition from film onto stage, which is quite tricky. Now we have become used to it. So for NT Live our show lends itself well for what they are doing because so much of it is already filmed. We have learned to ignore the cameras and just carry on.”
This is a way to get people to almost go to theatre, or does it take away from that live experience?
“I haven’t seen NT Live. Friends of mine have seen the show live in a theatre and then when it played at the movie theatre, they went to see it as well. They met people who didn’t see it in the theatre who remarked over how much they enjoyed it. My friends commented that the film version is just as good. The only thing you don’t get is the experience of going to a beautiful theatre, but they did say that they were just as gripped in the cinema as they were in the theatre.
I think being able to see the reactions up close in the cinema was remarkable for them.”
Do you have a favourtie scene in the show?
“My favourite scene is the scene that is actually set in the theatre. I get a kick out of the fact that the audience is sitting in the theatre watching a show about the theatre. And then within that show there is scene where Margot is supposed to arrive and read in with Claudia Caswell and she is so busy having a long lunch that she doesn’t arrive in time. Because of this, Eve stands in and takes her place. There is something lovely about being on stage in the theatre for real, pretending that you are on stage in a play about the theatre.”
Gillian Anderson (X-Files, NT Live: A Streetcar Named Desire) and Lily James (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) lead in All About Eve, filmed live in London’s West End and broadcast to cinemas worldwide.
Further details on all upcoming NT Live screenings in SA are available via the NT Live website – www.ntlive.com