Spotlight on Jeff Gill

In our continuing series of interviews with the actors for One Flea Spare, Melissa Barker sat down with Jeff Gill. One Flea Spare marks Jeff’s first appearance with Whistler.

What drew you to acting?

I started acting only about 12 years ago. I think I’d had enough mid-life crises and life changes and i figured I’d put the energy into acting which I hadn’t done since I was in high school so it had been a good 30 years almost. And I had some really good luck right off so I didn’t get discouraged in any way so I kept at it.

Did you have any training?
No. Just like I said, nervous breakdowns and things like that…

Which is training!
Which is training right!

What intrigues you most about One Flea Spare?
I think what intrigued me about this play, well it’s a kind of play that I’m often drawn to and involved in. I really like plays that have something a little bit off kilter about them. I love the strange emotions that go along with these characters. People who are trapped, people who are kind of out of their element. And I think for some reason, even though I look perfectly normal, I seem to get picked to play strange people. And I enjoy it. I like exploring those depths of character and the darker sides of peoples feelings.

What’s been the most challenging thing about playing Mr. Snelgrave?
Certainly the language is difficult. It doesn’t have the poetry of Shakespeare, which can give you a lot, and yet it has that kind of specificity. The period is very specific. Other than that, I don’t tend toward playing upper class Englishmen, I think I’m about as far from that! I’m not the Noel Coward type! So that’s a little bit of a challenge. I don’t pretend to be well trained in carrying off these upper class people. I seem to find my own level in a lot of characters.

When you go see theatre, what makes it a good experience for you as an audience member?
Believing it. I think. I do a lot of directing for my theatre in Plymouth, and what’s always nice is when you have the luxury during the rehearsal process to close your eyes and just listen to a scene. You’re not worrying about what they’re [the actors] are doing, you’re just listening, deciding whether or not you believe what their saying. It takes so little for a scene not to be believable, and I suppose it takes a lot for it to be believable! But at the same time the naturalness of the scene, the way the people are talking, there are such slight nuances in terms of timing and other things, which [as an audience member] you don’t really have time to think about and yet it can make all the difference in terms of a scene you believe or one you don’t. It’s most delightful for me if I can just believe the words that are being spoken…that the people are speaking them from a real place.
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