Welsh star Clive Merrison talks about latest project Land of Our Fathers
7:10am Sunday 15th September 2013 in News
Welsh star of stage, screen and radio Clive Merrison is set to appear in Land of Our Fathers, playing at the Latchmere.
Alexandra Rucki spoke to him ahead of the show.
Alexandra Rucki: Who do you play in Land Of Our Fathers?
Clive Merrison: I play an old wiry Welsh miner called Bomber, named after a WWII plane.
AR: How are you preparing for the role?
CM: I’m learning a lot of singing. We are going down a mine tomorrow in South Wales. We have to get a miners’ bus, singing Welsh songs as we go down there. I am Welsh so not that much preparation. I know one song, which my mum sang as a lullaby, but in English as we lived in Pembrokeshire. We also sing a Sex Pistols song in Welsh male voice harmony.
AR: What was happening politically at the time the play is set?
CM: Well it is set in 1979. It is a production when Margaret Thatcher defeated Callaghan. With it comes the unions, the death of the miners – huge cultural change.
AR: Do you believe it still has resonance now, particularly with Thatcher's recent death?
CM: I think it has great resonance. It is not just a play about resistance. It is about the community in Wales and how they survive doing this task. It is a job that no mother would want their son to do, really. Now these villages are bereft and nearly all the men work in call centres.
AR: What has been the biggest highlight of your career?
CM: I am proud of quite a lot of it. Doing The History Boys, Broadway and films. Working with Clint Eastwood and in large venues. But I love small theatres, because that is where the writing is. Chris Urch is one of the most brilliant young writers I have come across since Caryl Churchill.
AR: What is so great about Urch’s writing?
CM: He can write a play that is kind of big in its themes but about this small community. He comes from Cornwall, and can find a voice for these Welsh men – it is quite a feat for a young writer.
AR: What other actors and directors do you admire?
CM: Well one that died recently – Snoo Wilson. Anthony Minghella. Alan Bennett, I have done quite a few of his plays – The Madness of George III and of course The History Boys. It was a life-changing play, all the boys have gone on to do so well.
Theatre503, the Latchmere,503 Battersea Park Road, SW11 3BW; September 18 to October 12; theatre503.com, 020 7978 7040.
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