Interview with Felix Hayes1 Apr 2022
Bristol Old Vic favourite Felix Hayes is returning this April as the Remount Director of A Monster Calls. We caught up with him to chat Bristol, theatre, and what his new role in the show entails...
Bristol is your home town – care to share your hidden gems with us? Where’s your go-to place at the weekend?
I love Bristol’s green places - the well known ones - Leigh Woods (Paradise Bottom is my favourite bit - with a name like that how could it not be), Ashton Court. But it is my local patch I really love - Narroways Nature Reserve in St Werburghs and Purrdown are both real moments of escape for me. Going out for dinner? Bianchis on Picton Street.
If you wanted a night away from theatre – where would you go?
Home! I am a right old home bird, but that isn’t very exciting… I am a board game addict (over 150 at the last count…). So I would probably get some friends around to have a game of something fiendishly complicated...
A Monster Calls is a beloved book for many and the show has had an epic response – what was it like initially bringing that story to life as part of the original company?
A real honour. I was involved in the devising of this show the first time round - It is the birth of a piece of theatre is my favourite moment in the process - how are we going to tell this story? In what style? Having a piece of theatre that grows in the room, influenced by all of the people working on the project is a really special way of working. Sally has a very strong idea of what she wants, but she also never closed to other ideas - and it is wonderful to feel like the DNA of every person that works on a show is present in it as it has a new life with a new cast.
Why do you think this show has had such an astonishing impact on the people who see it?
It touches on something that is universal to all of us. We all have had contact with grief, with loss, and will experience it again in our lives. But I think the show, lead by the novel’s approach, manages to tackle the hugely complex range of thought and emotions that come with grief in a very real, non-patronising or mawkish way - it manages to be simple and profound without being trite.
And now coming back to it as a Director of the revival - can you explain how the role of a Director is different in this instance?
The challenge is very different. I am not being asked to remount a script, but a production, and one I was in. My job as remount director is to make a show that honours the original, and I am lucky in this instance as I have a real understanding of the piece, of its heart. It is a delight to walk with a new company of actors down a road I have walked before and us all to discover things for the first time I have learned so much about this piece working with new minds saying words in other ways.
What’s it going to be like watching from the stalls and not being on stage?!
Exhilarating. We have such a wonderful group of actors - it is a real pleasure to watch them - every time I see something different, learn something new.
We’ve loved watching you on BOV stage over the years – what's been your favourite BOV role?
Ooooh… Maybe Rochester? Or Maybe Scrooge. I seem to like the grumpy ones...
Keen to see the show? Find out more below!