In the run up to our performances of "The Importance of Being Earnest" We sat down with some of our brilliant cast and crew. We sat down with Proforca Leading Man Ross Kernahan who has swapped his saxophone in space for a most wonderful Bunbury in the role of Algy in our production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of being Earnest"
Describe yourself in 5 words
Nonchalant, obsessive, patient, restless, contradictory, reckless.
Tell us a bit about your character and what you like most about them?
I suppose Algy’s lack of filter is what I most enjoy. He is a wonderful embodiment of the ‘Dandy’ of Wilde’s time: he doesn’t care what people think (or so he says) and combined with his wonderful control of language it allows him to come out with some outrageous, charming, witty and at times insightful philosophies for life; and that in turn is enormously in fun to play - I get to turn my filter off too.
What is it that you like most about Earnest and why do you think people should buy a ticket for this production?
It’s language. Wilde is a master of language, his ability to turn a phrase, to change a passing remark to something deeply cutting and witty, his hilarious and improbable situations which itself remark on the absurdities of his time and time indefinite. It’s a fantastic and fantastically wordy script which is a joy to read and perform - pair that with a relaxed theatre setting, a couple of drinks, and a few key Proforçatwists - what isn't to enjoy?
What's your favourite theatre production and why?
Hard question. I couldn’t possibly say a favourite - but of all the styles out there I think I know the type of theatre I most enjoy. Visceral, antagonistic, unapologetic, over flavoured and over stylised if anything, willing to challenge peoples perception, sometimes uncomfortably and radically in order to start a dialogue. Work by writers and directors such as Martin Mcdonagh, Sarah Kane, Beckett etc. Weird, for lack of a better word I suppose. I’d prefer to watch something which is overt, seemingly impentirable and jarring in style or intention where true meaning is buried, needed to be clawed out. To that extend recent things I’ve seen I’d have to mention are ‘Woyzeck’ directed by Jack Thorne - the production elements were astounding, the chilling soundscape, beautiful lighting, stage tech and discreetly evolving set - also the re-working of the script was glorious and gave it new life for this modern age. Also for it’s sheer remorselessness I have a special place for ‘The Book of Mormon’. I’m not huge on musicals and I don’t want to spoil it but my god - go see it - and if you do go see it after reading this and absolutely hate it - tough. I suppose thats what I most love about it; it’s completely unashamed but with a smile.
If you could play only one more role for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
If I ever get to play a lead role in an RSC production or at the Globe Theatre I would die happy. Thats it - I’m done. I have a huge place in my heart for the Bard’s tales and would take a role from any one of them and perform it for the rest of my life. I don’t understand myself my own pull towards the Early Modern Period - perhaps because I specialised on the subject during my time at university - but I just love it. The language, the real humanity of the characters, the wondrous ideas of the supernatural and of course the importance it has on the course of Theatre future cannot be understated. If not a Shakespeare I’d have to take a role from Beckett - probably - and ironically - from ‘Endgame’. The nature of the play seems to lend itself to the idea of ‘eternity’ although I’d likely lose my mind before long.
Whats the best piece of direction you've been given?
It’s not actually direction, but advice given to me before an audition. It was many years ago in a group audition, the panel walks in and with them a man in a black leather duster, gambler hat, very cool looking, older, long white hair and donning these breathtaking crimson cowboy boots. Let’s just say it spoke to me. He says to us, in the clear yet worn tone - ‘right. Well, likelihood is some of you are nervous. Fine, but... forget it, it won't help you now. Stop thinking about it. Feel it. Don’t be afraid and breathe. Do your speech as you had done in your bathroom mirror last night. As you did when you mouthed it on the bus or repeated it as you were making dinner. I have a phrase I often say that apparently my students picked up on, and as a present they got me this lighter with it’s inscription.’ He produces a shiny brass zippo. ‘It simply says...”fuck it”, and that my friends is my advice to you.’’ Words to live by.
Which actor do you admire and why?
One of many I admire would be have to be the actor’s actor Lawrence Olivier. No surprise. His reputation and work in film, theatre, the impact he had on Shakespeare needs no introductions from me, but it is his work he did for the community - bringing theatre to the many - particularly through his work as the founding director of the National Theatre which i find inspiring. That is what I want to achieve at some point in my career, to change the norm of a divided. tough and often elitist industry, art form and essential part of culture. I often find myself staring at his statue outside the theatre on the Southbank. Go have a look.
Ross is an actor from London. For Proforca he previously played "Sammy Sax" in "Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens." and will take on the role of "Wanderer" in "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" in November. His hair doesn't curl naturally, with our without the help of others. Ross is represented by MacFarlane Chard and you can view his Mandy Actors profile here. Follow Proforca on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @ProforcaTheatre and via our website at www.proforca.co.uk.
"The Importance of Being Earnest" is performed 27th - 30th September and "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" is on November 2nd - 4th 2017. Tickets for both shows in our "Project Wilde" series are available now and can be found at our website at www.proforca.co.uk/boxoffice or via www.lionandunicorntheatre.co.uk