What does one do to pass the time following the conclusion of the first series of an intriguingly interesting series based on a BBC Radio 4 drama while you wait to hear if there will be a second series? If you happen to be Nicola Walker, you head to London’s National Theatre, obviously, where you star in The Corn is Green in its first London revival for 35 years.
The importance the British acting community places on regional theatre will, once again, be at the forefront this Summer as the National Theatre presents Welsh writer Emlyn Williams’ 1938 semi-autobiographical play which follows Miss Lily Moffat as she arrives in rural North Wales, determined to help young local miners out of poverty by teaching them to read and write.
In my humble opinion, this has always been what has elevated British comedy and drama actors well-above their American counterparts. There isn’t a night somewhere in England that you won’t find a very familiar face from your favorite British comedy or drama performing in either one of the many strong regional theatre’s or on London’s West End stage.
It’s not uncommon over the years to see the likes of Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith, Geoffrey Palmer, Patricia Routledge, Dawn French, Dame Judi Dench, Rowan Atkinson or any of a number of other British comedy or drama stars on stage for a live performance.
Though many will argue it’s the writing that sets British television apart, of which I would whole-heartedly agree, it’s also the incredible talents of the actors and actresses involved that have had years and years of formal training at places such as The Old Vic or the Royal Shakespeare Company. Their ‘formal’ training in theater coupled with their desire to bounce from television roles, be it comedy or drama, to the live stage and back again keeps regional theater alive and well throughout the UK.
More often than not, you will be able to see your favorite British comedy or drama star on stage up close and personal in front of a live audience whether it be Bath, Guilford or London’s West End so next time you find yourself looking for something to do most anywhere in England, take a moment, look up at the marquee of the nearest theatre and I’ll bet you’ll recognize the name in lights. What a great way to see a British comedy or drama ‘friend’ and support regional theatre in the UK.
The Corn is Green runs now through 11 June in the Lyttelton Theatre at the National Theatre.