The Blue Room
Tour and Play details
Cambs Mag cover
Jason Interview Clips on Radio
Jason Interview - Three Counties radio - April 2003
When your dad's probably the best James Bond ever (in my opinion and no
disrespect to the others who are not worse just different!) you wouldn't have blamed Jason Connery if he'd just
gone off and been an accountant or something, to avoid those inevitable comparisons.
But he decided on acting and after attending the spartan Gordonstoun School in Scotland where he acted in school plays, he spent eight months at the Bristol Old Vic drama school and has never needed to look back or rely on his famous connections. His big break came in 1984 when he succeeded Michael Praed in the title role of the popular British TV series Robin of Sherwood. Since then his TV credits include a current recurring role in Smallville while films have included Macbeth, The Successor and Casablanca Express. He was also nominated for an Australian Oscar for his role in Winner Takes It All.
The part, or parts, in Sir David Hare's adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde has brought Jason Connery back to both this country and the stage after years of film and TV work in the United States. He was last seen on stage two years ago when he played Sir Thomas Walsingham in Roland Joffey's Faithful Dealing and before that hadn't done theatre for many years. So what was it about this play that brought him back? "When I was asked if I would be interested, I knew about it because of all the publicity surrounding it when Nicole Kidman did it, but I didn't actually know about the play" he explains. "So I went out and bought it and discovered many aspects that interested me."
One of these was the concept of playing many different parts, and the fact that he'd never done a two-hander before. But other 'aspects' turn out to be much more than characterisation and plot! "I also realised that I had never sworn on stage before and I'd never been naked on stage - or 'taken my knickers off' as my mother would say" he laughs. "I also wrote down things that jumped out at me on first reading, things that related to other scenes, and found it incredibly interesting, so I said yes to playing the part."
In The Blue Room, Jason plays five characters - a cab driver, student, politician, playwright and aristocrat - in 10 vignettes. But, as Jason is quick to point out, "they are all archetypes not stereotypes". "It's very rare that you are asked to play so many parts in one play with just two actors. It's a real challenge" he adds. "There's also the diversity of the characters to consider" he continues. "For example - I'm not just a cab driver or just a politician. You have to think about how they speak, and where they're from and most importantly the physicality of the person."
"I'm not putting on different wigs and glasses for each character so it's more about portraying their personality, not just their appearance.""You get moments in rehearsals when you think 'help - I don't know what I'm doing' - but you soon get a handle on it." So, what do all these different characters do, and what is the purpose of their diversity? "Well, the play is about an endless search for the perfect moment or liaison" explains Jason.
"You see each character in two different scenarios. For example, the cab driver is first seen with a prostitute and then with an au pair so you see the character in two situations. This shows how you get what you want from different people in different ways." Jason then goes on to explain how there are similarities and echoes all the way through, which keep you thinking. "The situations are all very different but linked in a way" he says. "As a politician I say that I've heard of someone who has five different kids by five different men. Then in the next scenario this politician is with a model who says that she still lives at home with her mum and that there are five of them."
I suggest that here the play may be hinting at the idea of six degrees of separation. Jason agrees but explains that it is also a lot simpler than that. "It just shows that we are all searching for the same thing but in different ways" he says. "One of the last phrases in the play is 'on we go'. You just keep on going and experiencing in your search." 'How true' I thought. This play is definitely for me! It hasn't always been to the taste of everybody though. Especially in the past. When the original La Ronde premiered in Germany in 1921, the police immediately closed it down, arrested the actors and put them on trial. But while attitudes to censorship may be different now, the theme is an age-old one.
"Yes" agrees Jason, "even if you go back to stone age man it was the same. They were searching for love too but differently - they may not have been so aware of it."This is The Blue Room's first national tour, and with mostly full houses, so far it is being received very well. Audience reactions though are different as Jason explains: "In Cambridge they have cameras everywhere and you could see people leaving from your dressing room. Some were deep in contemplation and some were having arguments - you could see them gesticulating wildly at each other. Unfortunately we couldn't get any sound" he laughs.
"This play can be simplistic. People meet, have sex, and part, and that's fine. But you can also see more into it than that if you want." "What is so good about Hare is that he writes very specifically and he leaves things unsaid" he explains. "It's not so good when everything is completely explained by the playwright because it doesn't leave you a lot to do. With Hare the audience is allowed to make their own assumptions."
"It's like life" he continues, "where things are not neatly packaged into a scene, and questions are left unanswered." "It's not like a soap where you know that at the end of that week - or story line - everything will be sorted out. Loose ends will be tied up, the villains will get their come-uppance and you move onto the next story. People watch soaps because they make them feel safe and make them feel that the world is alright. Life just isn't like that." "It's interesting hearing what people have to say about it" he says. "Some expect it to be more intellectual but it is very, very simple really - the basic search is very simple. The search for that perfect liaison is a physical and emotional search not an intellectual one. You don't sit down and say - now the idea of love is …. etc etc."
Sometimes with the stars of the screen you get the feeling that they get a script and just turn up and say their lines with out too much thought. And if they forget them, they can just do another take. Which, apart from the financial aspect, is why you don't often see too many of them on the stage. But with Jason Connery, after only a few minutes of conversation, you know that you could just talk to him about theatre forever. This is the kind of man you want at dinner parties! But with numerous TV and film credits behind him, has it been difficult to get back to live theatre? "It's not too difficult to come back to" he says. "Once you get to being on stage it's OK. And during the rehearsal period you follow a similar path. But you do tend to forget that there's usually a terrible moment when you don't know what you're doing - but it all comes together in the end." This play is difficult as well because with a two-hander there's no respite. "In other plays you may get a scene off" he says.
Born into a theatrical family, his father is Scottish-born Sean Connery and his mother is the Australian actress Diane Cilento, it is easy to think that he had no other choice but to follow in their footsteps. "Well there's always a choice" he says. "But I can't say what I would have done instead. This is what I have chosen to do and the path that I've followed so can't talk about any other scenario. But I can say that I do enjoy what I do and not everybody can say that." So what's next? "At the moment I'm booked until the end of May and I don't think further ahead than that" he says. "It's all part of being an actor living that kind of existence" he explains. "It's almost like being in a play itself. Two people can be sitting down at dinner and nothing happens in that scene. But if you're an actor, you look for something terrible to happen in that scene so that you can react to it. It's the excitement of not knowing what's going to happen."
But as Jason points out, this is the same for everyone, even if they have a seemingly steady job compared to an actor."Life is like a play you haven't seen before. You don't know what's going to happen next. Who does know what they'll be doing in six months time? But wouldn't life be boring if you did?"
Cambridge Evening News, Wednesday 5th February 2003
|A Cambridge estate agent has found a new way to take the stress out of house-hunting. And
stars of The Blue Room tried it out on Tluesday, when they toot a virtual tour of a Cambridge home. Actors Tracy
Shaw and Jason Connery were launching an interactive billboard at Russell Residential estate agents on Regent Street.
The new screen is in the window of the estate agents and allows passers-by to get the information they need about
properties as they stand in the street.
The idea is the brainchild of Vemon Spencer, from Colon, who is technical director at Visual Planet. "I was walking down Regent Street in the evening two years ago and could not get the information I wanted about a property. "I knew that the information was inside the offices and wondered why I shouldn't be able to access it." he said. Now he has developed the touch-screen technology to enable house-hunters to view properties from 360 degrees. Carry out searches specific to their needs, and book appointments. Robert Russell, proprietor of Russell Residential said: "It is a great idea that saves both us and our customers a lot of time - people can see straight away whether they are interested in a property." To encourage people to use the free service, the company will donate £1 to Cambridge's Arthur Rank Hospice for every home viewing initiated through the "magic window".
"Tracy and Jason were keen to come along and support a local charity," Mr Russell added. Mr Spencer, who received a SMART Award from the DTI for his idea, said: "It is tremendous to feel that an idea is in fruition, and that it is going to give a real benefit to Arthur Rank Hospice."
Cambridge Evening News, Tuesday 4th February 2003
|THERE was an air of anticipation at the Opening of The Blue Room at Cambridge Arts Theatre
last night. The erotic drama made famous by Nicole Kidman in London's West End, was performed by Tracy Shaw Of
Coronation Street and Jason Connery (son of Bend-star Sean) to a sell-out audience. But despite the hype surrounding
the notorious David Hare play-famously described as 'pure theatrical Viagra' - The Blue Room was sadly lacking
in substance or purpose.
Within the evocative blue-lit minimal set, the action moved through a series of sexual encounters between a selection of vaguely constructed characters. Between them, Shaw and Connery played a prostitute, a politician, a playwright, a married woman, a model, a taxi driver and an aristocrat. Although the play was sold as 'an intimate understanding of human relationships', the dialogue preceding each encounter failed to convey enough about the characters or their relationships to reveal their feelings for each other or their attitudes towards sex.
John Fordes, 61, of Arbury Road, Cambridge, said: "I thought it would
be a lot deeper. I had heard all the hype about the nudity but I thought it was a serious play. "It seemed
shallow and superficial on the surface and if there is something deeper to it, I will have to think it over."
Nick, 33, and Monika Jordan 31, of Guest Road, Cambridge, said: "It was slick. It wasn't very deep but it
was entertaining. Both actors were great although they did seem a bit nervous, which is understandable on their
opening night." Mary Moynihan, 38 of Hardwick Street, Cambridge, said: "I wanted to see it because I
thought it would be entertaining and sexy and I was curious just to see another woman's body. "I would like
to have seen it with
Nicole Kidman because I couldn't identify with Tracy Shaw. I couldn't get past her Coronation Street background and I didn't feel she engaged with her audience enough."
The Blue Room has sold out for most evening performances. The play will be showing at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, at 7.45pm and on Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm Contact the box office on (01223)503333.
The Sun, Tuesday 4th February 2003
Shaw in the raw!
|FORMER soap stunner Tracy Shaw makes a clean breast of it last night as she steps out completely
NAKED in her new stage play. The ex-Coronation Street beauty, 29, left fans drooling with this virtu-oh-so performance
on her first night in The Blue Room. There were loud gasps of appreciation from lads in the audience at the Arts
Theatre in Cambridge as she entered stage left without a stitch on. And her stunning curves kept them gawping as
she delivered her lines to co-star Jason Connery.
Theatregoer Eamonn Eldred, 39, from Saffron Walden, Essex, said: “I didn’t come to the play just so I could tell my mates I’d seen Tracy Shaw with no clothes on.“But I must say it was the highlight of the performance. She’s very, very good.” Student Sam Bailey, 22, from Waterbeach, Cambs, said: “Tracy looked stunning. I was looking forward to seeing her and I wasn’t disappointed. She’s got an amazing body.”
Tracy, who starred as Corrie crimper Maxine, followed in the footsteps of Hollywood Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman to star in The Blue Room. She plays the parts of five women — including a drug addict, model, a politician’s wife and a sex-mad actress.She said of her nude appearance: “I was so nervous in rehearsals I kept forgetting my lines. But once I’d got the first time over it was a lot easier.”
The Mirror, Tuesday 4th February 2003
Coronation streak LAST NIGHT'S FIRST NIGHT The Blue Room, Cambridge Arts
Theatre Kevin O'Sullivan
FOR more than seven years she delivered some of the most wooden performances ever seen on TV. Critics went so far as to suggest you could see Tracy Shaw blinking after
her screen alter-ego Maxine Peacock met her maker at the hands of Coronation Street killer Richard Hillman. "She can't even play a corpse," they said. Nevertheless more than 17 million fans tuned in to see the bed-hopping hairdresser crowbarred two weeks ago.
Last night the plucky Ms Shaw bared her talents before a few hundred theatregoers. In fact she bared much more in David Hare's legendary risque play The Blue Room. And she wasn't half bad. I came to the theatre convinced I was in for a night of disappointment. How could a 29-year-old Corrie girl hope to match up to Nicole Kidman?
In 1998 Kidman launched Hare's examination of human sexuality in a West End performance described as "pure theatrical Viagra". Aided in a series of explicit erotic liaisons by Sean Connery's son Jason, Tracy plays five women caught in coital circumstances.She is the street whore who pathetically gives it away to a passing taxi driver. She is the au pair who gets down and dirty with her employers' randy son. And she's realistic as a coke snorting model going at it hammer and tongs with a politician.
Last night was the first performance of a 16-week UK tour. Given that it is early days, we must forgive the nervous Mr Connery for stumbling on too many of his lines. But I am not prepared to forgive him for his dismal singing voice. Each bedroom scene is amusingly undermined by scoreboard informing the audience how long the act lasted.
Good luck to Ms Shaw. I do believe that for Tracy there's life after Coronation Street. Clothed or otherwise.
Sky News, Friday January 31, 2003
Actress Tracy Shaw poses in a revealing outfit to promote her new play
- and audiences will see even more of her when she takes to the stage in The Blue Room. The former Coronation Street
star will strip naked for the role made famous by Hollywood beauty Nicole Kidman. She appears opposite actor Jason
Connery in the play which opens at Cambridge Arts Theatre on Monday. Kidman's performance was memorably described
by one critic as "pure theatrical Viagra" and Shaw will be hoping to have the same effect on audiences.
'Naked moments' They will be seeing a lot more of Shaw than West End theatregoers ever got to see of Kidman when she appeared at London's Donmar Warehouse in 1998. Connery - son of Bond star Sean - revealed: "Nicole only appeared in two nude scenes - there are more naked moments in our version of the play."
Shaw admitted she was "daunted" by the prospect of stripping off. She said: "Nudity will be weird at first but I know from the director that it's an essential part of the play so there's no way I won't do it." Her husband Robert Ashworth has volunteered to sit naked in the front row to help her get over her embarrassment.
The Blue Room will tour the UK until May, visiting Richmond, Dartford, Guildford, Lincoln, Cardiff, Eastbourne, Londonderry, Cork, Brighton, Milton Keynes, Edinburgh, Wolverhampton, Stoke, Darlington and Salford.
Tracy Shaw takes nudity role in The Blue Room. Tracy Shaw has taken a role
in stage play The Blue Room, set to tour the UK next year. She plays 15 different women who all lust after the
same man, played by Jason Connery. Her role, made famous by Nicole Kidman, will see her having to strip off for
a steamy scene in the kitchen. Tracy told The Sun: "Everybody knows the play for its nudity but it is much
more than that. "I have no problem with any of the scenes. I've chosen to do it rather than panto."
The tour starts at the Cambridge Arts Theatre in February. Producer Julius Green plans eventually to take it to London's West End.
Tracy's agent Peter Charlesworth added: "She's very excited. She's a very good actress, vivacious and physically perfect for the role. She has no apprehension about the naked scene - it's very tasteful."
Sky News, Thursday October 31, 2002
Coronation Street star Tracy Shaw is to reveal all on stage in the role made famous by Nicole Kidman. Tracy, 29, will strip off for a steamy kitchen scene in the hit play, the Blue Room. She has signed up for a 16-week nationwide tour starting in Cambridge next February. It will be her first major role after she quits the Street in the new year. Tracy told a national newspaper: "Everybody knows the play for its nudity but it is much more than that. "I have no problem with the scenes. I have chosen to do it rather than panto." Tracy plays 15 different women who all lust after the same man, played by Sean Connery's son, Jason. All being well, there are plans to take the production to the West End. Tracy's agent said: "She's a very good actress, vivacious and physically perfect for the role. "She has no apprehension about the naked scene - it's very tasteful."
Thursday, 31 October, 2002, BBCI
Coronation Street star Tracy Shaw is to appear nude on stage in the play made famous by Hollywood star Nicole Kidman.
The 29-year-old is to appear in a 16-week run of The Blue Room, which Kidman appeared in at the Almeida Theatre in London in 1998.
"Everybody knows the play for its nudity but it is much more than that. I have no problem with the scenes. I have chosen to do it rather than panto."
Shaw will play 15 women who lust after the same man, while the main male role, previously played by Iain Glen, will be played by former-Robin of Sherwood star and son of Sean, Jason Connery.