“I think this will be my tenth season with Rainbow Shakespeare. I just love Shakespeare.
“I was inspired,” Ross recalls, “when my parents took me to the Theatre Royal in Brighton where I saw a fantastic Peter Hall production of Twelfth Night. It was just the most amazing production.
“The great thing was that they made it understandable. I was about 11 or 12 at the time. The characterisation was just superb; the direction was superb. And Peter Hall was actually there that night. My dad pointed him out. He was just there in the foyer, and that particular production is something I will always remember. I was particularly caught up in the relationship between the Duke and Viola, that whole love relationship. Shakespeare has always spoken to me very deeply at a level of the emotions and also in terms of the wit of it all.
“I was lucky enough to go to a private school from 13-16, the West Sussex Theatre Studios based in Worthing, and that really gave me the bug for carrying on loving acting.
“And from there I went to Chichester College and did a couple of years and from Chichester I went to the Guildford School of Acting. Once I got bitten by the acting bug, I kept pursuing it.
“At the Theatre Studios I played Macbeth when I was just 16. That was a turning point for me in terms of loving Shakespeare.
“Also my father is a musician. I have always had that musical element, and I think that helps with speaking the verse. I have never had a problem speaking the verse.”
This year, Rainbow Shakespeare is back in Highdown Gardens with A Midsummer Night’s Dream from July 11-16 and The Merchant of Venice from July 18-23. Ross is in both productions, directed by Nick Young.
“Working with Nick is great. He is such an experienced Shakespeare director that it really is his forte. I have worked with quite a few different directors of Shakespeare, but I would say that Nick is the best of all of them.
“What gives him the edge is that we don’t treat Shakespeare like the Bible. We get into it. We really sink our teeth into it, and there are no gimmicks. It is all about being true to the text and to the character. Nick’s big thing is about playing the emotions but also questioning what we are saying and why we are saying it and do we understand why we are saying what we are saying.”
For A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ross is playing Oberon: “I am doing both plays and I have done both plays before, but I have never done Oberon before. It is good to go back and do a different part. The doubling thing with Theseus and Oberon is quite interesting. It is like the yin and the yang in the same person. Oberon is like a darker alter ego.”
For The Merchant of Venice, Ross is reprising Basanio, a part he played with the company nine years ago: “I think the main thing is that you have got to be really, really open about how much he loves both Portia and Antonio.”
Tickets at the gate or from Worthing Theatres on 01903 206206. Performances will start at 7.30pm, with picnickers invited to arrive from 6.15pm. There will be matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm.
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