|Oscar-winner William Hurt drops in to return to theatre roots
||[Aug. 12th, 2009|10:54 am]
Life on the Fringe
By Phil King
Living on top of each other (literally - bunk beds), sharing one hot(ish) shower between fourteen people and flyering for hours upon end in the driving rain has just had its first sizeable payoff for the cast. In the cavernous and temporary shelter of the throbbing Underbelly bar we had a conversation with one of our audience members. He waited for us after the show and stayed for six hours, leaving only, like Cinderella, as midnight struck. This grey-haired American, imbued with an easy and welcoming confidence took time out of his day to feedback his kind and generous thoughts about the show. This is always a great boost for a cast at the beginning of a run, and, let's be honest, to me as a writer. Shaking hands with someone who genuinely and openly enjoyed the show, who talked about its importance and what it did to him personally is a great vindication of the many, many months of work it takes to produce a piece of theatre. Ultimately though you bring yourself back down to Earth by telling yourself that these are just the opinions of one man. That one man was Oscar-winning William Hurt though.
Hurt's breathtaking career places him in a superb position to control a conversation that ranged from an insightful actors' master class to an interrogation of American involvement in war. An intelligent and genuinely interesting man who has limited his chances of fame by seeking to question and reject the system will always be an idol to theatre makers. He told us that in refusing to have his name above the title in American plays he has taken himself out the running for Tony awards in the past, as the panel require a lead actor to be billed prominently. On the edge of our seats we were suitably disgusted at the situation and proceeded to reflect further on life, and theatre's, many injustices.
This is his first visit to the Fringe after thirty years of desperately wanting to come and we saw him in the audience of Camille O'Sullivan's cabaret show. For one particular member of our cast, Charlie, Hurt is an idol. Charlie waited until after Camille's gutsy and exhilarating performance to explain what our show was about and asked Hurt to come. So... our shower might not work properly, our sink might be groaning under the weight of fourteen dishes but we did get a warm and avuncular man to see our show who remained, in his own words, on the edge of his seat throughout and left pondering its importance.
Pictured above right: Glenn Close and William Hurt are shown in a scene from the series, "Damages". The program has been nominated for an Emmy award for best drama series. Hurt has been nominated for best supporting actor in a drama series. The 61st Primetime Emmy Awards are scheduled to air on 20 September in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/FX)
"Killing Alan" will be performing at the Underbelly's Big Belly, August 6-30 (not 18th) at 16:40. Box Office: Smirnoff Underbelly - 0844 545 8252 / www.underbelly.co.uk, www.roughfiction.com
"Life on the Fringe" index; Official Fringe site