Last week, I saw a delightful film called ‘A Little Chaos’, which starred, was co-written and co-produced by the sublime, superb and sadly now late, Alan Rickman. The story, briefly, revolved around the architects of the Versailles Palace gardens, and the Sun King himself Louis XIV (played by Alan Rickman). At the end of the film courtiers dance in an outside ballroom, standing center admiring all, the Sun King himself, a beautiful shot, and a moment that I thought perfectly summed up the impact Mr. Rickman made on any film.
Back in 1998 I was taking part in my final drama school production. It was being staged at Lyric Studio Hammersmith, a 150 seat black box part of the historic Lyric Theatre Hammersmith. In the main house it was celebrity night as the great and good of London decided to descend and see Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous and Avengers) in an Improv show! As they were enjoying their intermission drinks, we were deep in the second half of our production of ‘Cloud Nine.’ In the second half of this Churchill classic I played a seven year old girl and a dead soldier! This transformation involved a very quick costume change from girl to soldier to girl again, and several quick dashes back to the dressing room. That night I nearly flew right into Mr. Rickman, and Richard E. Grant, clad in summer frock, and then repeated the almost same collision dressed in camouflage two minutes later.
Within four months I worked for fringe legend Syd Golder (that’s another story). Syd and Alan went way back, including the fact that Syd had given Alan Rickman, Richard E. Grant and a host of others their ‘first’ London jobs. Or at least that is how Syd painted the picture; but there is evidence that all of them, including Gary Oldman, worked for Mr. Golder. Syd always threatened that Mr. Rickman would come to the show, and I had hoped he would as I thought what better way than to apologize for nearly spilling his G and T while dressed in a frock. However it was not to be, and now it will never be.
What’s the point of this wee story? I am not sure, missed opportunity, what if, a celebrity story a little bit different. The closest I came to meeting one of my all-time favorite actors. The funny things that happen off stage. I don’t know, but in closing I would like to say the following.
Alan Rickman was a unique hero, villain, lover, victim, a king, a sheriff, a ghost, a gangster, and of course, a wizard. He could be as comfortable in a costume drama as he was in a Richard Curtis comedy. He was an actor with a unique voice, superb timing, untapped reserves of compassion and an ability to just always be in the moment.
My hope is that BCSC is a company that produces such actors, that attracts such actors, that encourages such actors. That every actor we have has the opportunity to play the widest range of characters that they can envision, and not just to explore the well-trod path. We may never achieve the dazzling heights of Mr. Rickman, but maybe we might be lucky and all stand in the warmth of the Sun.