Monday, 19 December 2011

Interview: James Hyland

"Storytelling is one of the most important aspects of human life; our civilisation is built on stories and their value cannot be underestimated."

(Hyland performing as the character Jacob Marley)

Multi-award winning and hugely talented actor/writer James Hyland, is showcasing his one-man show at The MET Studio here at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre. 'A Christmas Carol- As told by Jacob Marley (deceased)' tells a wintery tale from the perspective of Scrooge's deceased business partner. Hyland has been touring the country achieving sell out performances of A Christmas Carol created under his established production company, Brother Wolf.

In preparation for this chilling and highly entertaining show we chatted with James about his latest magical offering and some of his favourite productions.

Why did you choose to create a production of 'A Christmas Carol'?

I’ve always loved ‘A Christmas Carol’, having read the novella repeatedly and watched many of its adaptations over the years, and so I decided to create a one-man show version of the tale, but with a twist – telling the story from the point of view of Jacob Marley’s ghost. The objective was to raise the stakes and the poignancy of the drama by having it told by a character that was part of the story in the first instance and therefore share his own personal and emotional response to the narrative; a character who is literally imprisoned by own feelings of guilt and remorse and wants to use this chance to convey its message to an audience by haunting them with the telling of it.
How do you think the character Jacob Marley differs to Ebenezer Scrooge?
There are actually many similarities between the characters, but the main, and important difference is circumstantial in that Marley never had the fortune of being visited by three life-changing benevolent spirits. He is forever bound in his chains, forced to endure a lifetime of captivity and loss. His reason for returning from the netherworld to haunt Scrooge is the same reason he visits the audience in the theatre – he carries with him a message and a warning.
How have the audiences responded to the production?
The audiences have all been very supportive; there have been some tremendous testimonials and the show has been universally praised by the press. I think many people are surprised at how emotional and moving the production has made them feel, and also how funny it is in parts.
What’s your favourite musical or play?
My favourite musical is ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, and one of my favourite plays is William Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. My favourite film is ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. I cannot praise it highly enough and the book by Ken Kesey is also a masterwork and one of my four favourite novels, along with Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ and, of course, Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’.
During your career in the arts you’ve perused acting, writing, directing, editing and more but which of your career roles do you enjoy most?
Acting is my primary love and very closely followed by writing – but all of my other roles, including directing, producing and editing, are very much part and parcel of the same. As corny as it may sound, I am in love with stories and the art of storytelling and very much enjoy all of the various processes associated with the medium.
Do you have any tips for those wanting to peruse a career in the arts?
To quote Winston Churchill “Never give up”. Storytelling is one of the most important aspects of human life; our civilisation is built on stories and their value cannot be underestimated.

'A Christmas Carol – As told by Jacob Marley (deceased)' will run from Fri 23rd December 2011 to Sat 24th December 2011 at The MET Studio, Stafford Gatehouse Theatre.

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