This week it was announced that David Tennant will return to the West End next year to star in a revival of Don Juan in Soho by Patrick Marber. It will no doubt be a hot ticket, and the sight of one of our best-known actors adorning theatre billboards is always a welcome one.
But what keeps stars like Tennant returning to their theatrical roots time after time? The answer lies partly in the fact that it is so fundamental to their identity as actors; most learnt their craft on stage rather than in front of a camera. But it's also to do with the connections they make with other artists while working in theatre, connections that simply aren't the same on a film set.
I've lost count of the number of times actors have told me in interviews how much they relish the theatre. In fact I long ago gave up asking the question 'how does doing [insert play/musical title] compare to playing your role in [insert TV drama/film]?'. Because the answer is always the same: Theatre is so much more satisfying (for a good example of this, listen to our podcast with Jesse Eisenberg).
From early rehearsal room camaraderie to the feeling of becoming a temporary family as the show gets on its feet, there is nothing to beat being part of a company. I remember attending the first day of rehearsals for a major West End production and being struck by how childishly excited everyone was simply to be in the room. That feeling of awe is the same whether you're David Tennant or an actor fresh out of drama school.
At Curtain Call we're privileged to witness actors and technicians backstage, night in and night out, and we always walk away envying them. The dressing room in-jokes, the green room banter, the sheer commitment to what they do, no office job can match it.
And it's not just this behind-the-scenes conviviality that most actors crave. It's also the feeling of being in front of a live audience, telling a story fresh every night. It goes back to the fundamentals of drama.
Recently Freya Mavor, the Skins star who made her stage debut in Good Canary, reminded me of another oft-forgotten fact about theatre vs film: you tell the story in the order it's meant to be told. No filming the final scene on the first day, or repeating the same kiss time and time again until it looks right. Just one kiss, just one final scene.
And just one more reason why all of us - David Tennant included - keep returning to theatre.
- Theo Bosanquet
Don Juan in Soho runs at Wyndham's Theatre from 17 March to 10 June 2017
Image: David Tennant in Richard II, RSC © Kwame LestradeBack to news