A TEAM of young actors head the cast of Huddersfield Thespian’s latest show which opens next week.
Delighted to be among that ensemble of young performers is 26-year-old Joshua Hemingway, who trained as a professional actor in London and America but who is more than happy to be in the spotlight in his home town.
Josh is passionate about the arts and says that working with Huddersfield Thespians on its production of The Man With Two Gaffers has been a great experience.
Blake Morrison’s play offers bawdy comedy and plenty of opportunities to get audiences laughing. It is based on an 18th century classic, Carlo Goldoni’s A Servant of Two Masters.
Morrison switched the action from Venice to the Yorkshire Dales circa 1850, and recast the characters as a Bradford mill-owner, a Dales farmer, a pompous vicar, a publican and two star-crossed young couples, with the Grand Canal becoming the Leeds-Liverpool canal, and the slippery servant, Truffaldino, who hails from Bergamot, renamed as Arthur Dodge, a man from Muker.
The fun and frolics begin in the main house at the Lawrence Batley Theatre on Tuesday with performances running each evening until Saturday (7.30pm) and with a Saturday matinee (2pm).
It is a piece that will be new to many as it was to Josh.
“I’ve had to relearn about the rolling Yorkshire speech rhythms. It was quite difficult even though I grew up here,” said Josh.
That’s probably because his training at the Rose Bruford drama school in London saw him spend a year in Texas studying American theatre techniques.
“That was fantastic, very challenging and very difficult being exposed to a different culture.”
After drama school, Josh worked for a small scale touring theatre company based in Lincoln before heading home to Yorkshire.
He and his wife Liane, who he met at drama college, are now settled in Kirkburton and Josh hopes to do a postgraduate course in screen and stage writing at the University of Huddersfield.
Theatre has been a passion since childhood though he very nearly decided on an altogether different career choice.
“All my friends wanted to study things like law and I’d thought about becoming a vet. I was on the verge of going to college to do it when I woke up one day and thought, I will still have to do drama.”
Josh was brought up in a creative household. His father is the well-known painter Andrew Hemingway.
“My dad was born and brought up in Holmfirth and went down to London to study art. That’s where he met my mum. They moved back here when I was born. They bought an old Victorian school in Skelmanthorpe and I grew up in a house that was developing around me.
“It would have been very difficult not to have become interested in the arts.
“I didn’t think I could do something that wasn’t creative. I found it difficult not to access that part of my brain.”
“One of the most powerful experiences I had as a child was going with my school to see a production of Oh What A Lovely War. It was a staggering piece with all this action going on around me.”
That love of theatre has stayed with Josh and he is pleased to see so many young actors working with the Thespians to put this rollicking comedy on stage.
“It is crucial that live theatre survives. It tells us so much about who and what we are.”
“I’ve really enjoyed working with the Thespian director Leighton Hirst on this production. I just can’t wait to get the play in front of an audience.
“I think the show has vibrancy and vitality which is developed by this young cast. It is a piece which needs vigour and youth and hopefully that is what this cast will bring to it.”
The show opens on Tuesday at the LBT. Box office is on 01484 430528.