Current tour

imageHenry V was the first play that the company staged in 1997, and they first performed The Winter’s Tale in 2005. Have there been any surprises in returning to the plays for the current tour? “Well, Henry V was so long ago now that it really did feel like working on a new play this time,” Myles says. “The 1997 production was promenade and about a third of it was performed outside the Watermill Theatre.

The Winter’s Tale was also at the Watermill—on that tiny postage-stamp stage—and my main memory of it is a feeling of claustrophobia. The sheer scale of the production makes it different this time around. And of course I was playing the Shepherd then so had his perspective on events, whereas this time, as Camillo, it’s a very different journey.”

Are there any moments that he especially looks forward to in the current productions? “I really love marching into the French court as Exeter in Henry V. And appearing in disguise in the festival scene in The Winter’s Tale is a definite highlight.” (Ah, that disguise. To give away more would be unfair to those yet to see the production. But let’s just say that it’s a classic “Myles moment.”)

Does he see the plays as complements in any way? “It’s always about creating two separate experiences for the audience and of course these plays are very different. But it’s surprising, the various echoes that occur. Polixenes and Camillo’s lines about ‘honour’ in The Winter’s Tale make me think of Henry’s speech to the soldiers before Agincourt, for example. One thing about performing two Shakespeares is that it resolves the authorship question for you to some extent. No way do you think that these plays weren’t written by the same person.”

Of Propeller’s intense touring schedules, Myles is enthusiastic. “It keeps plays alive, performing them in different spaces. Plus, it’s great fun, going around the world with your mates. We’ve now instigated ‘Leisure Friday’ when we’ll get together for a game of football, or to go to a gallery, or see a film. Of course, you’ve got to enjoy travelling. I love seeing cities, including English cities: Salford, Newcastle… My family has been able to come along on some of the international dates. My wife came with me to Girona, Verona, Madrid. My kids had a wonderful time in Boston.”

Asked about some of the incidents outlined by his long-time cohort Tony Bell on the latter’s fabulous blog—Chris, Bell writes, has “rescued me from Mexican gangsters, Filipino lady boys, the Watermill river and incurable ‘foot in mouth’ disease”—Myles laughs. “Tony does tend to wander off sometimes with his head in the clouds and has to be brought back from the brink. In Mexico we did get mistaken for anti-government guerrillas. It was the balaclavas we were wearing for that production… The TV crews turned up.” Life on a Propeller tour can be as dramatic off-stage as on-stage, evidently.

Myles also speaks of the differences in responses to the productions country-to-country, including American audience’s occasional discomfort with some of the more low-brow, ribald elements in the plays. He singles out the audiences at the Shakespeare Festival in Neuss as especially responsive and clued-up: “They ‘get’ the most obscure jokes.”