About time I wrote on my news. I wish I could say I have been busy acting but unfortunately that hasn't been the case. Sporadic jobs - a publicity spot for a firm of investors specialising in English-made Champagne, some modelling work for fine artist Jonathan Waterbridge, doing scene-work on a comedy module with MA directors at E15 and a handful of auditions - including a good one for the National (and a nice note from Alastair Coomer saying thanks but no-thanks(!)) and then a lousy one for the Hamburg English-speaking theatre for their adaptation of 'Great Expectations' (how I would have loved to play Magwitch!). Christopher Ecclestone has said he feels like a pariah - white, middle-aged, male; if he's finding it hard I'm not sure what my chances are! I have a job moon-lighting as Private Detective Benny from Brooklyn in a speakeasy in Earl's Court. My second night on the job and the jacket of my beloved three-piece from playing Tubal in "The Merchant of Venice" at the RSC was stolen from under my nose. A disaster to join that of dropping a hard-drive back in the Spring and losing all it's data. The insurance for the jacket paid for a villa near Pisa for ten days in the summer, followed by a week in Les Arcs, Provence, the summer home of my aunt and uncle which has now been sold to a family from Windsor but part of which is still home to my cousin Bernard. More of my time is spent with Paprika Print, writing, learning French and railing against the evils of men in power, whether the likes of Johnson, Putin or Trump. At least my kids (recently turned eighteen and ten respectively) continue to flourish and my parents "bat on" with remarkable elegance and wisdom. Now bracing for the fuel crisis (my plan - to go back to using the chimney).
Covid restrictions meant it wasn't possible to have my parents to stay for xmas. A surprise call from Phil Willmott (the director of my second show out of Drama Centre - 'The Winter's Tale') asking if I would be interested in performing in his xmas-pantomime version of 'Treasure Island' aimed at families on low incomes in Bermondsey. After a certain amount of procrastination I said yes - the need to perform and the chance to play Long John Silver over-riding the doubts. As it turned out we spent most of the rehearsal period trying to make our 'theatre' - a yard at the back of The Ship pub in Rotherhithe - functional and bearable for an audience (if not for the actors) - in rainy sub-zero conditions - and then had to close three days early due to covid in the cast. Thankfully the show was revived after xmas and played to sold out audiences. A good experience in the end! Wonderful to have old friend, Patrick, stop off for a visit en route to Paris and, in the end, a busy climax to a lacklustre year. A few face-to-face auditions at last, Trini performing in and co-directing a 16-woman show at the Tower Theatre across the road and a small appearance (singing no less!) in Harvey Brough's magnificent choral piece for Vox Holloway - "The Sun Does Shine" based on the memoirs of Anthony Ray Hinton who spent thirty years on death row. Celebration of my brother Matthew's second marriage and anger and disgust at the corruption and double-standards of our "ruling classes" (Boris and Andrew) and dismay at the ineffectual commitments of COP26 and the threat of Putin's dictatorial madness in Ukraine...
GwilVO was the name of an exhibition I gave of original film posters done in chalk - the VO standing for Versión Original - literally "Original Version" but the phrase used also for any film that hasn't been dubbed. I only sold one - my take on Kubrick's Lolita. All of them did the journey to London.
Souvenirs de Barcelona
30. 10. 21
1,500km road-trip with Cora to Barcelona and back, bringing all the belongings we left in storage over twenty years ago. In the end I decided on a bigger van which was just as well as we managed to squeeze everything in, just, but meant a few headaches when it came to finding safe parking and getting onto the autoroute south of Paris. Great for Cora to see her uncles, aunts and cousins and as always a pleasure to stop off at my cousin, Georges' new place on the way back - with all it's echos of his parent's home. A journey through time as well as space and a massive operation just to load and unload the vehicle - everything now occupying the back-room downstairs...
After a postponement of a year and a half - Marek, with whom I trained at Drama Centre, got married to Charlotte on a summer-like weekend at the end of September - the hottest recorded in Austria for that month - in Wolkersdorf, half an hour's train journey from the centre of Vienna. A memorable occasion despite the added paraphanelia (and stress) of travelling in times of tests and vaccines and a fantastic opportunity to revisit the Brueghel's in the Kunthistorische museum and discover the Albertina; other highlights, besides the feasting and after-party (which I only just survived!) - lunch at the cafe Mozart and a long cycle ride through the vineyards outside of Wolkersdorf. ¡Vivan los novios!
Autumn now and things returning to "the new normal". Looking back over the months since I last posted here the highlights have been the trips we managed to make, the birthdays we celebrated and having my oldest friend get back in touch after a silence of at least seventeen years. The effects of climate change felt every month it seems and the effects of Brexit, every other week; a feeling of instability and incompetence (gas prices rocket as petrol stations run out), from defeat and failure in Afghanistan to anger at the revelations of the wealthiest's tax avoidance in the same week Universal Credit is slashed for the poorest. Found myself cast as a Mafia hitman in short film "Frailty, thy name is woman" filming in some Russian oligarch's mansion in deepest Surrey; yet to see the result. I was allowed to re-write some of my dialogue so any of the blame for that will rest with me! The trips included Rochester and Whitstable, Brighton and Lewes, Norfolk and the Lizard, Cornwall. The birthdays - the four most important women in my life. First theatre audition in a long time the other day. Here's hoping there will soon be a few more... After three months I have lost approximately five kilos; would like to lose a couple more before xmas...
Officially the beginning of the end of Lockdown but virus variations raising their heads on the horizon. Disaster in India, brutality in Gaza, corruption in government. I had my first paid job of the year - a short student film in Portsmouth: 'Sleuth' from an interesting script fusing the problems of conditions such as Alzheimer's with a homage to the hard-boiled film noir archetype of the Private Investigator. Wonderful to get out of London, see some countryside, work in a studio and in front of a camera with a bunch of dedicated and good-humoured film students. Always wanted to play a 'gumshoe' so this was a very welcome gig. Back in London and re-editing my showreel in the hope of landing, finally (?!) some quality screen-work... The family well and all pretty desperate to get away for a holiday but the rules about tests on re-entry (not to mention the Brexit regulations about travelling with the dog) look prohibitively expensive. Lots of research for the PaprikaPrint site (official logo below) and battling my weight (three weeks into my new diet and I have lost nothing...!)
Death of Bertrand Tavernier. Very sad news. My favourite living director. Always hoped I would someday get to meet him. A towering knowledge of Cinema and more than a dozen great films. His last was a personal documentary about French Cinema which I saw at a London Film Festival three (or more?!) years ago. Over three hours of pure delight. I hoped at the time that he was going to work on a follow-up but not sure now if there will ever be one... Adeu Bertrand. "Danse, papillon, danse..."
25.05.1941 - 25.03.2021
Another birthday and another xmas and farewell to 2020, at last! A good xmas despite deciding not to meet up with family and friends; pudding-making, carol-singing, our biggest ever tree, a glut of presents as a result of easy online ordering and the kids excelling in hand-designed wrapping paper and thoughtful gifts. Two tasty self-tape auditions courtesy of John my new agent - looking forward to more despite the uncertainty surrounding the practicalities of actually doing an acting job again (both jobs were for filming abroad).
Most of November and December has been spent designing some calendars to sell over xmas via an online web-page in the hope of generating some extra income at the end of the year. A steep learning curve ahead but determined to make it work in the future and use it in tandem with my other graphic/writing projects. The screenplay has been badly neglected and is proving difficult to get back on track, mostly due to the demands of home-schooling. Check out the link to see how the calendars look. (Prototype logo)
Wonderful surprise to find myself making a fleeting appearance in the inspirational documentary 'Bank Job', by film-maker Daniel Edelstyn and artist Hillary Powell - literally exploding the myths and fallacies of debt in our society. Check out the trailer!
Passing of another favourite actor - Sean Connery. A first indelible impression left by seeing 'Diamonds are Forever' at the age of eight followed by the virile early Bonds. Told by my grandmother that he lived down the road from her in Roehampton me and my brother managed to convince ourselves that we had actually seen him coming out of a local newsagents. A string of marvellous characterful roles in the seventies - 'The Wind and the Lion', 'The Man who would be King' and 'Robin & Marian' and a fruitful association with Sidney Lumet but far too few roles worthy of him towards the end of the decade - 'The Name of the Rose' a highlight amongst them. Perhaps a good measure of his screen presence was that although he never compromised his natural Edinburgh brogue - it never seemed to matter. Passing too of writer and good friend Robin Chapman who, amongst many other things, wrote a wonderful role I always imagined Connery playing - Miguel Cervantes in an adaptation of perhaps Robin's finest novel - 'The Duchess's Diary'. The first time I was at the RSC I organised a reading of Robin's 'Shakespeare's Don Quixote' (which I filmed as Robin wasn't able to attend at the time). I wasn't able to place it with the RSC as they already had their centenary production planned... but I still have the tapes. All it needs is a black box (the White Bear springs to mind...) Robin was a lovely, charming guy. His passing is sudden and too soon.
Sean Connery - 1930-2020
Robin Chapman (1933 - 2020)
President of the Marlowe Society in Cambridge and Actor with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop as a young man, award-winning writer for television (primarily Granada - "Big Breadwinner Hog", "Tales of the Unexpected" and the BBC), screenplay writer for film ("The Triple Echo"), prolific novelist and expert on Cervantes. Charming, witty and erudite and a great blow to lose him. I call to my conscience to get "S'sDonQ" onto some stage, if only some black box on the fringe...
New selection of headshots!
Extraordinary to find we are almost at the end of September. The kids are back at school, Alba physically and Cora on-line (having got good GCSE's). I have picked up the pieces of my search for a new agent and have decided to go with John Rogerson of Collective Agents (out of the four who expressed an interest in representing me). Perhaps I set too much store by it but John is the only one I met who had actually seen me on stage ("A Day at the Racists" all of ten years ago). Our holiday plans in France had to be aborted due to UK quarantine rules but luckily Trini managed to book us five days in South Wales which helped to make up for some of the disappointment. Alba got to sit on a horse, Cora had a first one-to-one surfing session in the shadow of the Port Talbot steel works, and we all enjoyed some spectacular walks. Working apace on the screenplay (with the notion, in the present climate, of perhaps turning it into a comic) and setting xmas as my deadline. It seems like just around the corner.
We have been in lockdown for Covid 19 since the 9th March - a week before the government's tardy response. Cora has missed her GCSE exams and our day to day life has been dominated by home-learning, baking and movie-watching. Thankfully we have nearby Abney Park Cemetery to walk the dog in. Efforts to jog there in the mornings have been erratic and my body has paid the price of too much homebaking. Luckily we had the use of the back garden for most of the few weeks of really fine weather so our sanity has survived intact, more or less, and there were the resident musicians playing every evening while observing social distancing. My mother took a fall and chipped bones in her hip and arm. We all dreaded what might happen from her going into hospital but she has come out and is making a remarkable recovery, My meetings with new agents came to an abrupt end (to be continued soon, I hope) but I did receive a small taxable handout from the government to help us through. The future for the theatre and recorded arts industries looks dire. I read today of 75billion pounds in losses since lockdown began and no let-up in site. The future of things in general don't look great either but one hopes that the blatant abuse of power, be it by the likes of Dominic Cummings or the Minneapolis Police Department will galvanise people to demand real change such as many have perhaps been imagining whilst with time on their hands in lockdown. Managed some time on the third draft of the screenplay but not as much as I would have liked. Two inspirational films amongst all the ones we have seen - "Corpus Christi" from Poland and "On body and soul" from Hungary. Most impressive classic - "A Streetcar named Desire" on Trini's birthday and Ang Lee's "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman".
Death of Kirk Douglas. A key moment in my life was receiving a book from my mother for xmas when I was about seven or eight - "A Pictorial History of the Western". It marks the beginning of my love of film. Douglas was a massive presence in those years thanks to his roles in a bunch of childhood favourites - War Wagon, Last Train from Gunhill, Gunfight at the OK Corral, The Big Sky etc and adventure films - The Vikings, 20,000 Leagues under the sea, and the Heroes of Telemark. Personally I can remember preferring Robert Mitchum and Burt Lancaster but I don't think either of them had the luck to appear in so many truly great movies - The Bad and the Beautiful, Paths of Glory, Spartacus and Ace in the Hole. His Van Gogh in Lust for Life is still, for me, unsurpassed. My personal favourite - Lonely are the Brave. End of an era.
Kirk Douglas (Issur Danielovitch) 1916-2020
Happy New Year! Resolutions (to ensure I can fit into my green suit for Marek's wedding in June!) - no cheese, no chocolate, no wine! Lovely family xmas and great to have my parents up to stay. Stoke Newington and Dalston have changed a great deal since I first lived here in the late eighties and there was an interesting reminder of some of the changes in the local library the other day. A half-century earlier still and there were three working cinemas within seven hundred and fifty metres of each other. The Savoy now houses Earth club, a tattooist, a barbers and a Turkish restaurant but was for a long time a snooker hall. The Apollo is now the Azizye mosque with supermarket, butchers and restaurant but was showing kung-fu movies up to the early eighties. The Rio is a still-functioning independent cinema. Two exceptional shows to herald in 2020: Peeping Tom's Kind (Child) at the Barbican and Out of Order by the Leicester-based Forced Entertainment at the Royal Festival Hall. Both amongst the best things I have seen in the last five years - funny, dark, physical and full of extraordinary images and psychological observation.
Another march, this time for the climate emergency and then late summer holidays near Bergerac in the Dourdogne, via Blois. Only one further audition (a commercial for a German truck company). It seems my agent couldn't be more ineffective. After three months of patience the contract on 'Wired' comes through - unfortunately it stipulates that I can only exhibit the finished film for five years after it is completed. It seems strange, even unheard of, but with such a condition I have had to re-think whether or not to go ahead. Unexpected return to Cazorla with my parents and the discovery of some fascinating primary research materials has led me to begin a re-edit of my feature screenplay with notes towards a second draft. 15th anniversary celebration of the MACE training I did at Drama Centre and the Vahktangov Institute in Moscow - celebrating in style at the Russian Ambassador's residence and the mother of all hang-overs the following day! Hooking up with Mehdi, old friend from City Lit days now based in Geneva and catching his movement show - 'Anchor' and another memorable exhibition - this time Bridget Riley.
Easter spent in Cazorla in the south of Spain with stop-offs in Rouen and Barcelona to meet up with old friends and family. A great break and a new addition to the family - a Podengo rescue dog from Cordoba who we have baptised Kika. Two meetings in four months: a one-liner in the next 'Kingsman' movie and the lead in David Hare's 'Skylight' at Chipping Norton - the Bill Nighy role. Not a good audition despite a lot of preparation - one of those meetings soaked in an atmosphere of brutal indifference. Welcome back to the world of finding work! Have written to Davey Anderson about the possibility of turning his short play 'Wired' (that I did at the King's Head all of ten years ago), into a short film. He says he's happy for me to "run with the idea". Very excited! Now it's up to his agents to draft an Option Agreement. Working on the script and on the look-out for cheap studio space; think I might have found one in studio 5 at the back of Ealing Studios, now owned by the Metropolitan Film School where I recently shot a student film. Big Brexit march demanding the right to vote on any deal; Cora rehearsing at the Almeida Youth theatre, Alba at the Pleasance and Trini in a dance piece at the Barbican.
At last more or less recovered from two months of Sciatic agony. The NT allowed me six physio sessions to recuperate, I got ten in the end but it seems like it was the essential dental work that had me on painkillers for two weeks that helped finally see off the back/pain-in-the-arse I've been crippled with since WarHorse ended. Looking forward to working on my fitness and getting it back to somewhere like performance level. Well overdue photo session, for the first time with Nic Dawkes, results in my new headshots. Very pleased with the results but not happy with the fact that the copyright to them is not mine. I hadn't been aware that this could be the case... Wondering if I should take it up with Equity.
A couple of heroes have passed away and I wanted to give them some space here. The screenshot of Finney was the wallpaper on my laptop for most of last year - challenging me to not only keep my stage work fresh and truthful but also to keep my bum nailed to my chair to finish the first/second draft of the screenplay in downtime between shows. Nic Roeg died in November of last year but I hadn't been aware of it until recently. Anyone who has seen any of his five or six masterpieces will know what unforgettable experiences they are. A soft spoken Englishman with a unique and very un-english vision.
Great films. Great Actor.
Albert Finney (9.5.36 - 7.2.19) ACTOR
Nic Roeg (15.8.28 - 23.11.18) D.O.P and Film Director
London. The show has finished its run here and has headed north to Glasgow to continue its tour of the UK and the world. My last ten performing days have been a struggle - missing three shows after the onset of sciatic problems over Christmas. Determined to finish the last week and now - all done. The Lyttleton run was great - a chance to play the role in more intimate surroundings and revisit some of the discoveries made over the last fifteen months. I was so lucky to draw a role with a clear journey through the play and multiple options for playing him without damaging the narrative arc of the piece. At our farewell party I was reminded of all the work I had done on the original Ted in rehearsals with Katie - a much more sensitive and compassionate character who was abruptly derailed by changes introduced by original director Tom Morris. I had forgotten. Surmounting the stereotypes of domestic violence became the challenge. Christmas saw the visits of my brother and his family come all the way from New Zealand and Yolanda, Pablo and Elli from Spain. Unfortunately I have managed to delete all my mobile photographs since Birmingham! What I can post here and in my gallery is a photograph taken by Simon Annand of myself in the half before my last performance. A brutal clown from an early Fellini movie!
2010 - present
2010 - present
RIP Ted Narracott July 2017-January 2019
London. A return to the birthplace of the show and a special performance on Remembrance Sunday - the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice, complete with poppy-drop and original creatives Tom Morris and Marianne Elliot in attendance. Everybody excited and happy to be here. Unfortunately Management bungles again. A face to face meeting leaves us in no doubt about their inability to learn from their previous mistakes and bodes ominously for those staying on for the international continuation of the tour. A pleasure to be catching the bus to work, being back in London and finally performing at the NT! Old friends from my training days at Drama Centre, James and Marek, come to the opening night with Trinidad. www.gwilymlloyd.com finally goes live!
Return to London
Birmingham. Nice digs in Bournville and the opportunity to meet up with an old friend last seen at my London début as an actor all of twelve years ago! Musician, potter and free-spirit Ian was a runner with me in a film/video post production house in Charlotte Street at the end of the eighties. He composed the music for my second short film and would sometimes appear in Barcelona over the fifteen years I was living there. He and Izzy and son Tyler came to the show and some of the actors from the company joined us at Sun Dragon pottery to have a go at throwing on a wheel. Later managed to catch him performing with half of his band - Cosmic Jerks - at the Old Mo, his local watering hole. Fantastic! Vowed to myself to get them down to London to play some gigs. The show in excellent shape, more wonderful audiences and standing ovations... Not much time to explore the city but did get to know some excellent restaurants in Chinatown - roast duck chow mein!
Milton Keynes. Commuting out of Euston. An hour and thirty minutes to get there but two hours and over to get back. In the three weeks we are there only one return train was on time! Hard audiences, but then we had been spoilt in Plymouth. Best thing - being at home! As for MK - I enjoyed some of the plants in the shopping centre and was passed on my walk to work from the station by my first driverless car. Feed-back from the first draft of my screenplay - conflicted feelings but useful! Back to the drawing board?
Plymouth. Bringing the War Horse story back home to Devon. A day visiting Michael Morpugo in the village of Iddesleigh, where it all began. The most enthusiastic audiences we have yet encountered - mostly full standing ovations. It is impossible not to feel invigorated but in the back of my mind is the situation at home with Trinidad incapacitated. Covers and knock-ons for most of the run in Plymouth as cast members continue to suffer from the rigours of the show and/or the impact of returning to it after the break. Only about half a dozen of the thirty four cast members who have not missed a show.
A week's summer holiday in Toulouse - la ville rose. A nice air bnb and a beautiful city. The last three days turned upside down as Trini's mother passed away, Trini sprained her ankle and we hired a car to drive to Barcelona for the cremation. Back to Toulouse to catch the flight back to Luton and an odyssey to get home. The NT let me have two days off (missing one show in Plymouth - the opening night) to try and organise things back home. Not enough.
Woking and commuting from home! Trains out from Vauxhall and back via Waterloo, approximately an hour and a half. We are now one company member down and the knock-ons and covers mean I have to take on a new track in 'mud-gun hell' for which I get paid £2.10 a night. It amounts to a further two costume changes, some strenuous puppeteering and losing most of my long second act break to have my tea. I can't say I'm happy but hopefully it won't be for too long. Woking is tranquil and has an excellent fruit and veg stall near the station, and H.G Wells's Tripods! The second draft is finished! Working title - "No Return Train".
Cardiff Millenium Centre. A spectacular theatre in the renovated Bay Area. Cheap digs twenty minutes away and then a two bedroom air bnb apartment in the Canton area with the family, a short drive to work. Great audiences and some of my best shows but the problems in the cast have come to a head and investigations are underway. All too late as the damage has been done. The length of this stretch without a break is too long. The physical demands pile up and those carrying injuries have no time to recover. Lucky to have the family with me and my writing. Have said no to the suggestion of continuing the tour another 18 months, much of it abroad.
Salford Lowry. Nice digs and a charming landlady-artist. Strong audiences and the standing ovations continue for 98% of our shows. Working hard to keep my performance fresh and spontaneous and enjoying the discoveries that can be made. Full on with the writing in my downtime and too far out of town to explore Manchester proper, hopefully it will keep for another time. Major friction now between elements of the acting company and the actor-puppeteers besides allegations of bullying, harassment and racism.
Southampton. Mayflower theatre. Good weather and nice audiences but cracks appearing in the unity of the company. Unfortunate choice of digs (too far from the theatre and an unwelcoming landlady) but the family were able to stay and we had a very hot day on the beach and a very wet one in Winchester and lunch at Nelson's stop-over on his way to Plymouth - the Wykeham Arms. Then the first of the girls' birthdays - Trinidad.
After a week's holiday, in Barcelona, we are now in Edinburgh. Everybody has been looking forward to being here but after a cracking opening night we have had consistently patchy audiences; a shame because the show is in good shape but understandable perhaps in a city that has so much more to offer than some we have visited. Digs in Bruntsfield - a nice walk to the theatre across the Links and a nice weekend walk to Blackford Hill and it's views of the city. Good progress with the writing and a ceilidh at the end of the run.
Nottingham - Concert Hall. My best digs so far - a fifteen minute walk to the theatre in the swanky Park area beyond the Castle. Mixed weather but strong audiences and another city I warmed to - the excellent Broadway cinema, a great secondhand bookshop (Jermy & Westerman) and plenty of cool thrift shops, cafes and bars. The family came to stay in half-term and thanks to my charming host we had the use of his fantastic kitchen and dining-room. There was even some time to play tennis and make progress with the writing project started in Brighton.
Bradford Alhambra - a beautiful theatre. Heavy snowfall much of the time but still good audiences. Bronte country not far away but miscalculated with my digs and ended up at the Budget Ibis.
Brighton in January. Bitingly cold and playing in the Conference Centre seating close to 3,000. Good backstage facilities but a hard, impersonal space to perform in despite ramps and forays into the audience with the horses . Michael Morpugo and his wife came and threw us another drinks party.
A full-on schedule at the New Theatre Oxford (seating 1800) with the promise of a two week holiday at the end of it. The family came to stay and we all moved into a cosy air bnb for Christmas. My parents and brother, Matthew, caught the show and my French cousin Georges with some of his family. Nice digs again - off the Cowley road.
Liverpool Empire - playing to audiences of 1500. Laryngitis meant I missed six shows. Luckily my digs were comfortable as well as elegant and I recovered to finish the run. Great pubs and museums and our best audiences so far...
Bristol - a city with which I fell in love. More packed houses, a memorable Halloween party, a cruise of the port, a tour of the restoration works at the Old Vic and a cycle ride along the banks of the Avon. And ping-pong - happy days!
So press night came and went and everyone looked great! Full houses since then and standing ovations every show! Last week at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury.
After two weeks of previews in Canterbury, press night is tomorrow! Here are some production photographs (see Gallery for more and larger versions).
About to move to Canterbury for the technical rehearsals and previews of War Horse. Here are a couple of recent rehearsal photographs taken at the rehearsal base at MDM Studios in Greenwich.
Cast as Ted Narracott in the tenth anniversary revival of the National Theatre's acclaimed production of War Horse based on the novel by Michael Morpugo. The production will tour the UK for fifteen months. Click on the image below for a list of tour venues, dates and how to book tickets.