Today we are delighted to bring you an interview with actor and writer, Jules Hobbs. Jules will be starring in three of six BARD HEADS shows being live-streamed in January and February.
How and why did you first start ‘performing’ and what made you decide to make it your profession?
That’s a deep question! My mum loved the theatre. She ran an amateur dramatic group for years and also, when I was really little, she wrote and directed nativity plays for the Sunday School. I was the regular 3rd Wiseman (gender blind casting – forward thinking in the 60s!). I loved the nervous thrill of it all. As I got older, I realised that ‘performing’ gave me confidence, people found me funny and admired my bravery. Being smaller than all my classmates didn’t matter so much. I remember feeling embarrassed at secondary school saying ‘I want to be an actress’ (in fact even now, I hate the word ‘actress’ and always refer to myself as an actor but that’s by the bye) as it sounded rather grand. In my A Level years I got involved in big community productions with the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon and, when I left school, I went to work there on a Government-backed Youth Scheme. I was encouraged by lovely people there to try for drama schools and, even though I didn’t get in to any of them, I didn’t give up. Mind you if I’d known then what I know now, I’d never have had the courage! Sometimes ignorance really is bliss!
You’ve got a strong educational background. Do theatre practice and education go easily hand-in-hand or do you sometimes struggle to make it fit?
Theatre and education are most definitely bedfellows, or should be. Theatre/drama allows children to flourish (as I did) in a way that is not always possible in the conventional classroom. It helps enhance listening, focus and teamwork skills as well as creativity and, most important of all in my opinion, it can help raise self-esteem and confidence. I can personally testify what a difference that makes! The struggle is not making theatre practice and education fit together but rather convincing those with budgetary control of the life-long value of it.
What has been your most challenging acting job to date?
I’ve had quite a lot of those! I’ve been challenged by having to strip off completely in two national tours of ‘Steaming’; having to tap dance in Rapunzel at Chipping Norton; singing and dancing in a corset in Sleeping Beauty in Truro and playing half a dozen characters in a five-handed full version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for Illyria. But my most stretching role lately is, without doubt, Kate in ‘Naming The View’ – another FINDING THE WILL show written by Richard (Curnow). It’s a beautiful play shining a light on coercive control and domestic abuse, full of raw emotion and truth and I feel a huge sense of duty to get it right. It’s a real emotional rollercoaster that one!
Is there a role that you’ve never played before, but would love to if you got the chance?
Well I always wanted to play Rita in ‘Educating Rita’ but I fear that ship has sailed now (although I’m always open to offers!).
Who’s your favourite actor (living or dead)?
Well I very much admire Keeley Hawes and also Michael Sheen (sorry, I know that’s two!). They both seem to me to be incredibly versatile and always perform from deep within. They act with their eyes as much as their voices and so, even if they are not speaking, you always know exactly what they are thinking. That’s a great skill.
Why do you think people will enjoy watching the Bard Heads series?
Each monologue is full of human emotion, observation and an intriguing storyline. Also, just because it is performed by one actor, don’t think you will only hear one voice! There are lots of characters that pop up in them - some Shakespeare originals, some not – and even if you don’t know the original play very well (or even if you don’t know it at all) you’ll still be thoroughly entertained! Also you’ll get to see inside our houses (and not just a book case!).