We are delighted to announce our guest narrator for Prokofiev's 'Peter and the Wolf', at Belcombe Court on 22nd August will be David Threlfall.
Well known for playing leading roles on stage and television, and with many accolades to his name including an Olivier Award for his portrayal of Stephen in New Ambassadors 'Someone Who'll Watch Over Me' and a Bafta for his role as 'Daddy' in Victoria Wood's 'Housewife 49', David Threlfall will be joining Iford Arts at Belcombe Court this year as he narrates Prokofiev's 'Peter and the Wolf'. I caught up with David to find out more about the man and his love of language in all forms.
It's a damp June afternoon and our conversation starts with musings over how to remove weeds from a newly laid lawn. Not exactly what I was expecting, and as I have little more than a backyard, I'm not really able to help with his horticultural queries, he laughs and recognising my embarrassment is at pains to make me feel at ease.
He's a down to earth man who seems somewhat reticent to talk about himself or his stage and screen successes. "I don't really have anything particularly interesting to say about myself," he responds when asked why he doesn't give many interviews. He's most well-known for his character in the Channel 4 series ‘Shameless’ for which he won a BAFTA, but he's a regular with the RSC and a well-respected and classically trained actor. When asked if he considers himself first and foremost a stage actor before television he says "to be honest it's just been great to work at all! Especially over the last 18 months. Having something to learn is always fun and I feel so happy to be working, we all need to have a bit of lightness in our lives, and for me, it's performing"
But David doesn't seem to have slowed down at all during the pandemic, he's recently been working on a 'Book at Bedtime' for Radio 4 and filming for a 10-part BBC series 'Dodger' in which he plays the chief of police, Sir Charles Rowan. Set just before the events of Charles Dickens’ iconic novel Oliver Twist, the police are always just one step away with Sir Charles Rowan (Threlfall) becoming increasingly obsessed about how to deal with the gang and catch the artful Dodger. David talks animatedly about his character and it's clear that he's passionate about all of the characters he's played. When asked if he's a method actor, he laughs and tells me that his craft is to learn the role and practice, practice, practice. I get the feeling that whilst he may not take himself too seriously, he is deliberate and very serious in his approach to work. His passion for language is clear. He tells me he's been told more than once that he can be a pain to work with because of his assiduous attention to syntax - it's his love of language in all forms and his passion for storytelling that has defined his career to date. He has huge admiration for the way language is used by Shakespeare and Chaucer but also talks passionately about his great friend and hugely talented writer Victoria Wood. "she really was quite something else, really innovative and such a strong force for women, we didn't really realise quite how brilliant she was until she'd gone".
‘Peter and the Wolf’ won't be his first foray into narrating a classical piece live on stage. He once stood in as narrator in Camille Saint-Saëns' 'Carnival of the Animals', working with the pianist and conductor for just a few hours before going on stage. He tells me that it was 'real seat of the pants stuff' as he took to the stage, his cues were directed by the conductor 'giving him a nod' when it was time to deliver his lines. He described how emotive the whole experience was when the orchestra began "I had a groundswell of emotion - it felt like being in the sail of ship that was filling with air and taking me along with it, being up there live when it's happening, I guess it's the next best thing to being a rock star!"
Being a rock star would have been a dream career for him but as a shy young man, he doubts he would have had the confidence to see it through. His love of music, however, began at a young age listening to Radio 2's 'Family Favourites' and he thinks that may be where he first heard 'Peter and the Wolf' performed, and whilst his teenage years were filled with the sounds of Led Zeppelin and early Genesis (before Gabriel quit the band) he now has a much more eclectic taste in music. He talks of having a soft spot for the music of Judee Sill, Roy Harper and the young and talented Jacob Collier. He's at pains to tell me that he's not really a 'folksie type', but I get the sense that his love of storytelling permeates all areas of his life and music is no exception. His parents weren't particularly musical, and although he plays the guitar it's his brother Stephen who is the seriously musical member of the family. Director of Music at Chetham for over 20 years and a freelance conductor, he's now artistic director at the Lake District Summer Music Festival at which David will be performing alongside his brother this summer. In celebration of William Walton, David will narrate an orchestral piece, conducted by Stephen from the 1944 film of Henry V.
It seems in recent years he has taken on more projects aimed at younger audiences. He tells me that it's not a conscious decision, but that it just seems to have happened that way, and it certainly doesn't seem to be a direction he's shunning. One of his last live performances before the lockdown was in Kenneth Grahame’s ‘Wind in the Willows’ at Stoller Hall in Manchester. David narrated the role of Mr Badger whilst musical brother Stephen conducted an orchestra featuring sixty young singers and instrumentalists. Ask any under 7-year-old and they'll recognise him as the voice of 'Flop' in the CBeebies hit show Bing!
David Threlfall is an actor with a hugely successful stage and television career with a passion for syntax and storytelling but most of all a gentle man with a wry sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye, oh and a dislike of weeds in his lawn....
David Threlfall will be narrating Peter and the Wolf at Belcombe Court on Sunday 22nd August 2021. The production is suitable for all ages over 5 years and tickets may be purchased via the Peter & the Wolf page.
Why not enter our 'Design a Poster Competition for a chance to win family tickets
Draw, paint, collage, however-you-like a poster and send it to us before 31st July at midday and be in with a chance of winning tickets to our colourful and immersive production of Sergei Prokofiev's enduring musical adventure.
Two sets of family tickets are up for grabs! Open for ages from 5-10 and 11-16 with each age group winning 2 x adult tickets and 2 x child tickets.
Winners will be notified by email no later than 3rd August 2021