FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTER: Acting isn't a Trial for newcomer Andrew

A late-comer to acting, Andrew Saunders now finds himself in his element.

The cast
The cast

His latest challenge is as the mysteriously-arrested Joseph K in Franz Kafka’s The Trial which Peter Waters has adapted and directs for the Chichester Players for the Festival of Chichester.

“I have done three productions for the Chichester Players,” Andrew says, “but I am still relatively new to acting, just in the last three years. Before that, I hadn’t done any acting at all. The original idea came through the Eastergate Players. My son was going for an audition, and I said I would go along with him. I thought it looked like fun. I got some small parts which was all very exciting, and some things just get under the skin.

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“I had just trained as a counsellor, and I had done a lot of self-observation and thinking for that. There was something inside me that made me listen to the voice that was saying I wonder what acting would be like…”

Andrew’s debut with the Chichester Players was in Peter’s production of A Tale of Two Cities: “I was a number of characters, but the most visible character I had was a guy called Gaspard, the father whose daughter was killed by the baddie. That was something that really required you to delve into the character. You had to be convincing as someone that had just lost their daughter, but my interest in counselling meant that I was trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes. You have got a script in front of you as an actor, and the challenge is to get inside that character, and in a way it fits nicely with being a counsellor and trying to understand someone. It all fits together quite nicely in a way that I would never have thought of.”

Andrew’s next production with the Chichester Players with Joseph Andrews last year: “I played this doddery old slightly-dubious judge, which I absolutely enjoyed. When I read it through, I thought ‘I want that part!’ It was only a short part. It was only a couple of pages, but it was wonderfully expressive, great to be playing this rather dubious character!”

And so now to Joseph K – off the back of playing Mother Goose in panto, which Andrew insists is good preparation: “With Mother Goose, you have to park a lot of yourself and become this ageing woman who goes on this slightly-ridiculous self-imposed journey. But in fact, one of the reasons I took on Joseph in The Trial was because I had done that role. It is a big role for me. I feel confident in what I am doing, but obviously sometimes you have a sobering doubt about your ability and it is really good to do a big role like Mother Goose to make you realise you can do something like this.”

As for Joseph: “He is a likeable character, but I feel he is a bit lacking in common sense. I have spoken a lot with Peter. Working with Peter before was another reason for taking on this role now. Peter is someone that wants you to work out your own way of doing something within the bounds of what he thinks the role should be, and I think I see Joseph as a well-spoken person but, like I say, a bit lacking in common sense. My feeling is that he is almost as much to blame for the outcome as the people that he got involved with. The way he responds to it all is all part of his downfall…”

Performances will be on Thursday, June 30, Friday, July 1; Saturday, July 2, at 7.30pm at the New Park Centre, Chichester. www.chichestertickets.co.uk.

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