Cast interview - Daniel Farley

As we approach our production of Stripped we've decided to pose some interview questions to our actors so that the world may get to know them and relate to them before going in. And to see just how lost actors can be without a script in front of them.

The latest person to tempt us into their parlour is Daniel Farley who plays The Bishop.

Describe yourself in six words?
Tall, not as tall as Kris

What attracted you to the role?
The fact that the bishop is really funny.  Although he doesn’t think he is, he is just wonderfully absurd and I like that about him.  Plus I am often a doing more serious roles and really wanted to do something that was more over the top.  He can be a little sinister at times, but it’s his fundamental view point that he is right and the world is wrong that creates this sinister helpfulness.

What attracted you to me?
The Beard

What's your origin story?
What traumatic event or alien encounter has lead you down this theatrical path to the point where I'm making you answer this inane question?
I have acted as long as I can remember.  As a child all I wanted to do was play my favourite TV characters.  I would have my brother act with me, re-enacting things like Ghostbusters and Terminator 2.  I don’t really know anything else.

What is your characters theme song?
‘Jesus he knows me’ by Genesis.

What do you know about the character that no one else knows?
He knows the path to enlightenment, but he has no idea who his local MP is.

Being in the chorus also means you’re playing lots of different characters in different situations. What effect does this have? Do you create intricate back stories for each individual, create a caricature for each line or focus on making each one as different as possible?
The different characters come mainly from caricature, they don’t really have back stories with myself, oddly some inspiration for them popped into my head from random films.  Beetlejuice for one!

How have you found the rehearsal process?
Very challenging.
The play is very different to anything I have done before because of the choral work.  Before, even if I was in every scene, I could concentrate mainly on myself to start with and develop from there.  In this process, I have found that I need to concentrate on everyone around me at all times. Given that my brain is very small, this has proved a challenge.
It’s also felt a long time coming, which in truth it has.  I am used to rehearsals starting a long time before, but this process started very early and did make those first rehearsals for me feel less urgent. 

It has been a bit of a drawn out process. I started early because I didn’t know how long Christmas break would be and as you say the choral work requires an intense concentration and awareness that would make the initial blocking a long process
However it really has created what I think is a very strong cast now, one in which people have become friends. It has been rewarding, my fellow actors are all just brilliant which makes working on the play a pleasure.
Great, that’s exactly one of the things I was trying to get out of the long process. I needed the chorus to work as a unit; I needed you to be close and completely able to trust one another and form an intuitiveness that takes time,
And one of the goals of the Sigil Club is to have that communal feel, to have an atmosphere where people can become friends. As it says in the name, a club. One of the most gratifying things I got out of working on The Quest for Beauty with you was a strong friendship and I’d like to allow others to have that experience.

Though having worked with me before why on Earth would you want to put yourself through that again?
Who are you again?  I'm sorry my memory is not what it used to be.

Do you have a specific warm-up or ritual before going on stage?
Standing alone in the middle of the stage, staring at the empty seats.
I occasionally try to beat up the director as well.

If anyone hears crashing about right before the play starts it is not two overenthusiastic young men performing wrestling moves on one another...
The play is supposedly a comedy and whilst a lot of that rests on the script, everyone has been cast because they're naturally funny. What are your comedy influences?
Eddie Izzard is one of my favourites, but also Billy Connelly, and the Goons. (I do a fairly passable blue bottle)
When you say naturally funny, do you mean people laugh when they see me in the street?  Cos that is mainly where it comes from.  I don’t think I am that funny, I play funny characters but I don’t feel like I am the one being funny.  Most of my jokes are pretty bad, I am quite pleased when I tell a gag and people sigh in pain!
Maybe it turns on when I am in a group, leave me to write a gag on my own, it will be bad, improvise a scene with other people and I will come up with a good line.

Have you based your performance on any famous Bishops?
Oddly no, mainly because the main ones I can think of have funny names!  TuTu for example.
I guess I kinda came to him via an idea of making him a super Bishop, one that ticks all the boxes for a career in the clergy.  For me, he is not intentionally misleading or obstructive, he genuinely wants to help, but has no concept that what you actually need is not something he offers.  Its like if you came to him asking for rope to climb a cliff, and he offers you plane tickets, he has no idea why you suddenly don’t like him.
Keep refusing his point of view however, and he continues to force it onto even more vehemently.  This is the danger behind the Bishop, the authority figure who cannot have his view challenged, but must change everyone else’s.

Who is your favourite Bishop?
The one from the X-Men.

If you had Nine days to find the meaning of your life where would you look first?
I have occasionally found the answers in a very good sandwich.
Unfortunately, it’s never the same sandwich twice.