Spotlight on Tom Burke

1 November 2018

In eager anticipation for our upcoming co-production Don Carlos, we shine the spotlight on celebrated actor Tom Burke as he gives us a glimpse into what audiences can expect from his theatre company's first production.

After starring in TV epics such as Strike, The Musketeers and War and Peace, many would expect Tom Burke’s return to stage to be a West End role. But, he told The Stage, a love of regional theatre has led him in another direction:

“There are absolutely amazing people running regional theatres, and amazing regional companies. Regional theatres don’t patronise their audiences, and they’re not afraid to do big, bold things. You only have to look at Manchester’s Royal Exchange or Home to understand the huge energy outside London – there’s enough talent around the country to have a Donmar and National in every city. It just comes down to money.”

Buoyed by his desire to create strong theatre for regional audiences, Burke founded Ara Theatre Company in collaboration with prolific Israeli director Gadi Roll. Burke explains: “Ara Theatre Company was established by Gadi and myself to create work that combines emotional complexity and stylised staging. We believe that theatre which asserts itself as different from the naturalism of television and film will prove vital in sustaining the art form.”

This isn’t the first time that Burke and Roll have collaborated, the pair previously worked together in 2007 on Don Juan Comes Back from the War at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Director Roll is known for his trademark dynamic imagery and haunting soundscapes. “He just has a different way of coming at things” Burke says.

“His work is very emotionally inhabited and just creates a universe which exists within its own parameters, in that respect it is uniquely theatrical and doesn’t feel in any way in competition with telly and film – that’s what excites me in theatre.”

Friedrich Schiller’s thrilling drama Don Carlos is Ara’s first production, Burke explains: “It’s an extraordinary text, and with it, we want to push the boundaries of what theatre can do… As an actor it certainly pushes you to the edge of any talent or technique.”

Written just two years before the French Revolution, Don Carlos is a man caught at the intersection of passion and politics. “It is a story of oppression and nationalistic aggression, about the state of the world and the interior landscape of its characters; a vivid and devastating narrative of what happens when we are ruled by fear.” says Burke.

He continues: “It’s a unique balance of many things, including idealism and cynicism. It has a beautiful humanistic heartbeat running through it but the story is ultimately a brutal one”

You can catch Tom Burke starring in Don Carlos at the Rose from 6 - 17 November. To find out more and to book tickets, click here.

This piece contains excerpts from Tom Burke's interview with the Stage. Read the full interview here.

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