In Part I of the interview with Samuel Toye, cast member of new company The Three Dots, we chatted about training in Italy, the universal language of mime and the company’s UK debut performance. In Part II, Samuel talks about all things theatre, including hidden talents, etiquette and onstage mishaps. MIMES (Most Imbecilic Mime Ensemble Show) is the UK debut show of The Three Dots, and it’s due to play at Etcetera Theatre from 16th – 20th August as part of the Camden Fringe (you can get your tickets here).
Who or what has inspired you most in theatre?
Samuel Beckett, for his absurdism; that guy has given me the sort of twisted and absurd mind that I have today.
Do you have any hidden talents that may find their way into a future Show?
I do…which I’ve recently discovered: I can climb through a tennis racket. It will be in a future show!
So this time next year: Camden Fringe, with you climbing through. Tennis racket – great stuff!
Etiquette debates – worthwhile or futile? Where do you draw the line?
It’s a shame my colleagues aren’t here, because there’s a big difference between etiquette in England and Italy – there is a huge difference, so I think their answer would be completely different to mine. I believe in it, I think that people should be respectful in the sense that they should give their focus to the show- I don’t mean respect in the sense of ‘oh, you must turn up and wear this, you must be quiet and you must behave yourself’ – but you should at least give the people your focus, whether you like it or not. I think it’s important that theatre is a 50/50 thing, where the audience give just as much as the performers do. I don’t really believe in shows where the show just gives 100% and the audience can just sit there and give nothing and let it wash over them. I’m not sure if that’s etiquette – but to me it is.
Well, it is – it’s about being involved and not just sitting there with one eye on the Tweets or whatever…
Okay, so if that means being involved, then I suppose what comes under it is okay: don’t use your phones in the audience, don’t do this sort of stuff, because that then means that you’re not giving your half of the bargain – you should be fulfilling your contract, which is: you’ve paid for your ticket; you should sit there and engage. Now in Italy, it’s a different thing (he’s grinning from ear to ear at this point, amused by his knowledge of the disparities). For example – simple things like time-keeping (laughing) – genuinely, in like, established theatres the shows will start half an hour late – it’s amazing –
Oh yeah; people use their phones, people talk (Samuel seems amused by my involuntary gasp) – and I’m pretty sure you can have dogs in the audience – it’s mad!
For big, established theatres, that seems crazy – can you imagine that happening here? People would implode – I just can’t imagine it.
Yeah, well – my theatre school is run by an American guy, so he tries to teach time-management and all the things we just have in the UK – and the students can’t follow it – and I’m thinking of course they can’t follow it, because if they can’t follow it in the theatres, then how how are you meant to teach it in a theatre school? It’s hilarious!
Do you have a best ‘the show must go on’ tale?
Ah, the best ‘show must go on tale’? I was touring for a theatre company called White Horse Theatre, and they toured around Germany, performing in schools, and the day, well, the night before the performance, I dislocated my ribs. I thought ‘ah, it’ll be okay, I’ll do the show anyway’ – and I was dressed as a big fat mouse, and it’s a show for little kids and there’s a scene in the play where I have to pretend to be stuck in a mouse trap – and I couldn’t breathe, I was in so much pain! So half way through the show I was like (he kindly demonstrates the general squeaks of pain he was making, much to my somewhat cruel amusement) – it was terrible, but the show must go on!
And did you make it through?
Yeah, I had to!
And nobody was concerned or anything?
No – the kids were laughing their heads off –
– Thinking wow, he’s so realistic?!
Yeah yeah – well, it was only a two man show, so it was just me and my scene partner, and my character was on stage the whole time so there was nothing I could do!
If you could bring change in terms of opportunities in theatre right now, what would it be? What does theatre need?
Such a hard question. Well, this is obvious – there needs to be more opportunities for female writers and female directors. My friend is putting on a show actually – not at Camden Fringe – but the show highlights this, and it’s about the need for a stronger role for actresses, for female writers and female directors. She is putting on this show using just women; so for the tech, for the stage management, for the writer, for the actresses – the director, and that’s pretty cool, that’s very important.
For me, myself, coming from a working class family, I think there needs to be more opportunities in that sense; I think it’s very difficult being in this industry when you haven’t got any money! ( laughs)
– I think there was an article that came out yesterday, or the day before, about the need to remove fees for theatre schools because it’s such a barrier, so both of your answers are very topical there.
Yeah, well then I suppose some people would say – I don’t know, it’s hard isn’t it? Because if you make the fee and you can’t pay for the fee… (he’s clearly organising his thoughts while simultaneously answering here – quite a feat) but if you’re really really passionate, you will find a way and you will do it. But it closes doors because there are lots of people out there who can’t pay for it. But then would that (removing fees) make people less hungry for it? I don’t know.
Finally, to close, sell your show to readers in just one sentence!
MIMES (Most Imbecilic Mime Ensemble Show): minimal words, maximum stupidity – come and play with us!