ELLIS DACKOMBE Graduated from Arts Ed: BA Musical Theatre July 2017. Thrill Me Edinburgh & Arcola, London. 

I worked with Guy on my first professional job, immediately after graduating drama school.  I had never imagined being given as much freedom and trust in my first job, as I was during Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb story. I learnt more about script analysis from Guy in just four weeks rehearsal than I had in my entire time at drama school. This I do not say lightly as ArtsEd is arguably one of the best drama schools in Europe and they prepare you extremely well for the industry. Stephen Sondheim was recently quoted in an interview for The Stage, saying: “Directors should focus more on the text and less on themselves”. Based on this statement I believe Sondheim and Retallack would get on very well.

Guy’s passion and professionalism shines through his direction enabling the actor to feel safe. I always felt able to voice my opinion and ask countless questions without ever feeling judged or, given my lack of experience, naive. There is a nurturing aspect to Guy’s direction that make his actors feel respected. This level of support allows the actor(s) to try new things and experiment again and again until you find what it is he is looking for. Any pressure felt is simply down to wanting to impress the man because his passion alone deserves the results he is after. Guy manages to throw a lot of information at you which at the time seems too much to take in, then before you know it, the scene is over and he is sitting there with a smile on his face because you’ve done exactly what it was he was after. His understanding of text and the English language gives him a plethora of ways to explain something to you so no matter how alien a scene might feel, you go into it knowing what he wants you to do. In my opinion this detailed text based approach to the script was second to none and it was a privilege to work in such a manner on a day to day basis.

Through working with Guy, I found that I never had to think too much about technicalities as an actor. The preparation was always so good that the scenes just developed naturally as everyone in the scene always knew exactly what they wanted. The character’s journey, their objectives and obstacles would always be discovered and discussed in length before the scene was put on its feet. This allowed the scenes to start at a very strong place and only got better throughout the process.

Guy’s warm and father like demeanour coupled with his detailed professionalism makes for a quite fantastic director. I have the upmost respect for Guy Retallack and I feel honoured that I got to work with such a respected and experienced director at this early stage in my career. I can only hope that one day our paths will cross again and I will get to work with not just a brilliant director but a genuinely lovely and kind man. That said, if he ever asks for a coffee, get him to make it himself! – it’ll never be quite to his standard. I wish Guy the absolute best in future projects, I’ll sure to be in the audience at his next one.

“I always felt able to voice my opinion and ask countless questions without ever feeling judged or, given my lack of experience, naive.”

“The preparation was always so good that the scenes just developed naturally as everyone in the scene always knew exactly what they wanted.”

“Stephen Sondheim was recently quoted in an interview for The Stage, saying: “Directors should focus more on the text and less on themselves”. Based on this statement I believe Sondheim and Retallack would get on very well.”

© 2017 by jameshuish