Endangered Productions interviews Alan Faulkner who appears as the Troll King, the Sea Captain and an American Business Man in our 2022 major production of Peer Gynt. Alan’s theatre career spans the Antipodes and the Old Dart - including John Bell’s Australian Shakespearean productions and the UK Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) with Peter Hall, John Barton, and Alex Jennings. We were very happy to sit down and talk to him.
You came from England to Australia in the ‘70s. What brought you here? Love! I met my wife Gemma in London and proposed to her on Brighton Beach. We’d only known each other for six weeks, but she was the one for me. We sat in deck chairs, and with the waves lapping and the sea-gulls swooping, I proposed. She said “Yes”… so then I said, “Let’s have a cup of tea!’ We lived in an Earls Court basement and after our son Andrew was born, we moved to Gemma’s home country, Australia.
What was being an actor like in the ‘70s Australia? Initially, I was a tutor for the Australian Theatre for Young People. I found myself an agent and then landed a series of roles like A Country Practice. (I played Father Michael, I’m pretty good with accents.). But it was hard, and I had a variety of other jobs - a nurse in psychiatric units, in my small painting business, and at a morgue presenting the bodies of the deceased to the relatives who came to identify them!
Where does your love of Shakespeare come from? Partly from The Players Company run by John Bell in the ‘70s at the Bondi Pavilion. We performed King Lear, Hamlet, Coriolanus - I loved all the roles. Shakespearian language is wonderful to learn.
Did you ever return to London? Yes! To appear in the first Ansett Arline commercial. It was actually shot in London! I was flown back and put up in a very posh hotel for a few weeks. I also returned in the ‘90s when there were fewer work opportunities for me in Sydney. I was competing with a lot of Australian actors, and English accents weren’t fashionable.
Tell us about the RSC? Back then, you had to apply for roles in writing. If you wrote well and added humour, at least you got seen and heard. I landed a job with the RSC. They liked my voice! I was fortunate enough to work along side the founder John Barton, actor Alex Jennings, and director Peter Hall … the very best. I learnt movement, how to understudy, and everything in between. I love character acting and I’m a quick learner. The more the pressure, the easier it is to learn.
What do you like about the Troll King role in Peer Gynt? The role is great. I start off as a dictator and end up down and out. In the last scene, I bump into Peer and add a few lines from the Bard himself. But you’ll have to come and see the play to appreciate that!