“It’s a really enjoyable crazy mad comedy about love mischief and money” I sat down with Daniel Easton who will be playing Ben Legend in the RSC’s Love for Love. After recently graduating from RADA, one of the most prestigious drama schools in the country, this is Daniel’s second season with the RSC.
I spoke to him about his experience at RADA and how it transformed him as an actor. He described drama school as “Not too dissimilar to the RSC, it was incredibly intensive.” Daniel actually studied drama and film at The University of Manchester before he auditioned for RADA. “I didn’t know what side I wanted to be on, I was always convinced I would be on the other side and be backstage or behind the camera. I worked for the BBC for a year in production but I always knew it wasn’t quite the right fit, I was always running around on set and I realised the actors were having more fun than me.”
RADA is one of the top drama schools in London providing the excellent training, upon arriving at RADA Daniel didn’t quite know what to expect, “It’s weird” he told me. “Because you think right I am at drama school this is where I am going to learn how to act and figure out how it is done. You kind of come in with this pressure on yourself and then you’re so exposed, and you have a few chunks taken out of you by your acting teacher.”
Daniel explained how excited he is to be returning to the RSC for a second season, this year he has a bigger part and therefore a bigger challenge “It’s one of the best theatres in the world to work at.” He told me that working in such a close company is what makes the RSC so different “It is just really lovely company spirit and the RSC are really good at putting together a group of people that are lovely human beings and it is that spirit of company that I really really love.”
Love for Love, written in 1695 by William Congreve, Daniel explained the director Selina Cadell’s vision for the play. “She has created something that is true to the spirit of the play and of the time. I would describe it as a play about how love can send people mad and money is the route of evil but in a playful and comedic sense.”
It is a fast paced fiendish comedy that will be kicking off the start of the RSC’s Winter season. “It is a really fun comedy and really fun show for this time of year, our director is constantly reminding us that you spend ten weeks rehearsing thinking about the truth, the truth of the character and the truth of the text and then you get to perform it and you have to pretend the audience isn’t there which is the most untruthful thing in the world. So Selina has been reminding us that we are there for them, we are there for the audience and because of that the play means so much more to them and they get so much more out of it. We entertain them and make them laugh and hopefully inspire them with the language.”
Easton tackles the role of Ben Legend, a honest and blunt seaman “Ben is in complete opposition to everyone else in the play, he says everything how it is,”. It is a complex comedic play in which a lot of the characters are playing games with each other. “Ben comes in and he says it for how it is and he calls people for what they are, himself and the character Miss Prue are the truthful and honest part of the play, they counterbalance the other characters in the play who kind of wear a mask.”
Whilst rehearsing and being in production for Love for Love, the cast are similtaneously rehearsing for Queen Anne opening at the RSC on the 20th of November. He will be playing Colonel Masham, Daniel explained how they would be rehearsing for Love for Love downstairs and then go straight upstairs and switch to rehearsing Queen Anne. I questioned the challenges Daniel might face constantly switching between two very different roles. “The first season I was here I found it harder, it is quite nice because a different rehearsal process will throw light on the other rehearsal process.”
Daniel plays Colonel Masham in Queen Anne, he explained the differences between the two roles, “Character wise Masham is kind of sweet in the same way Ben is but Masham would never say the kind of stuff Ben comes out with, he is more meek and mild.”
He told me “It’s nice to be able to switch between the two and not get so bogged down and in your head about something because sometimes you can pick stuff apart for hours and hours and I don’t think that is helpful.”
Despite the two plays being very different, Daniel discovered that coincidentally Love for Love was actually Queen Anne’s favourite play.
With opening night fast approaching I asked Daniel if the more plays he did at the RSC, the less nervous he got. He quickly denied this, “I think nerves are helpful as long as you can control it, be aware and take steps to counterbalance it and it shows you care. I would never want to go on stage with apathy, it is finding the right balance, I think it is healthy and shows you want to go out there and do the best you can and support the other actors on stage.” Daniel is very passionate about his role and he told me “I am quite fond of Ben and it means a lot so I want to make sure it is right and do it justice.”
Although he is focusing heavily on his season at the RSC, I managed to sneak in a question about some of his dream roles. As his training was very classically based he seemed to be very keen on some of the more prominent classical roles. “I saw Macbeth at the cinema recently, so I’d like to knock off Macbeth before I am forty. I’m grateful for any role that is challenging and rewarding.”
Training at RADA is very classically based, Daniel’s passion for classical plays was evident as he told me “there is something about when you connect with classical and you’re playing a line and being truthful it is just a feeling like no other.”
Love for Love is on until the 22nd of January 2016 and tickets can be found here.