Joseph Ayre comes to the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time direct from a three year undergraduate course at East 15 Acting School.
I caught up with Joseph during rehearsals to talk about the show over a cup of tea.
You have just finished a three year undergraduate course at East 15 Acting School and now you’re going straight into the West End to play the lead role in a huge show. What was the process like of auditioning for such a big part and how did you feel the moment you found out you had got it?
The process was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. I auditioned 5 times for the part over about a 3 week period and every time I was called back the stakes got higher and higher for me and I got more and more on edge. Elle While and Anna Marsland (the associate and resident directors) did such a good job at putting me at ease and letting me get into it without nerves getting in the way. When I got the call from my agent and he told me it felt like my whole life changed. I was absolutely stunned, I couldn’t sleep for days!
For those who may not be familiar with The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-time, can you tell me what the show is about and the character that you play?
The play is a murder mystery about a boy with an extraordinary mind who sets off on a quest to find his friends killer and learns a lot about himself along the way. I play Christopher Boone, a 15 year old who describes himself as ‘a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties’ and is the ‘detective’ of the story. The whole play is shown through the eyes of Christopher and we see how he processes and understands (or doesn’t understand) the world around him.
Christopher is different to most people his age and he struggles with certain things many of us do not. The National Theatre and The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-time are big supporters of providing Austism Friendly/Relaxed Performances of their shows, so people like Christopher can enjoy theatre just like everyone else. Unfortunately not all West End shows currently perform these types of shows. How important to you think it is for theatre to be made accessible to everyone, regardless of disability?
I think it’s extremely important. Everybody should be able to enjoy theatre, and the growth of relaxed performances can only be a good thing. Art can inspire change and growth and nobody should be missing out on that.
There are lots of exciting shows coming to London in 2016. What are you most looking forward to seeing?
Ralph Fiennes as Richard III sounds like a match made in heaven. I saw him in Man and Superman and it was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. He’s a hero of mine. Plus Vanessa Redgrave as King Lear? I’m sold.
This is the beginning of your career. Do you have any dream roles that you would like to play over the years to come?
Wow that’s tough. I really like Shakespeare so I’d love to have a crack at Hamlet or Henry V. Also I’d kill to play Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Ooh and Bob in American Buffalo. There’s too many!
If you could be the opposite sex for the day, what theatre role would you love to have a go at playing?
I saw The Taming of The Shrew at The Globe the other day and it really got me thinking about Kate. It’s such a difficult role to pull off, you have to be strong and at the same time be downtrodden by all the horrendous misogyny that’s thrown at her through the play. And the speech at the end is infamously confounding. I think that would be a challenge. Although I must say that women aren’t being represented nearly enough as they should be in the theatre or in any other medium, so this question is harder to answer, but it shouldn’t be.
Why do you think people should come to see The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-time at the Gielgud Theatre?
It’s a wonderful story and the guys at Frantic Assembly have come up with such a unique and magical way to tell it. As much of a cliché as it is there really is something for everybody, it’s exciting, it’s sad, it’s moving, it’s inspiring, it’s technically mind-blowing and one of the best things about it is that everyone can enjoy it, no matter what age you are.
Thanks for having Tea With Wilma
Photo: Alex Rumford