Robert was the patron of the 24:7 Theatre Festival in Manchester which aims to present new and innovative plays.
I found a very interesting interview on youtube in which Robert talks about the Festival and finally a very touching comment about how he enjoys coming back to Manchester.
Here is the transcription of the interview. Thanks to Robert for his marvelous voice and his neat speaking...however, I got lost in some bits, sorry :
The interviewer : Can you tell me why the Festival is so important?
Robert : "From an actor's point of view anything that promotes new writing is worth supporting and worth supporting whole heartedly.
"Actors only exist if they have good things to say. You can't act without a good script... well, you can, but you end up with a lousy play. So, here we are encouraging new writing, year on year, and the material is better and better. And it gives young writers a chance to practice their art and gives the actors a chance to practice theirs with good material.
The interviewer : Have you been involved in a lot of new ages [not sure] yourself in theatre?
Robert : "I used to be when I was a young actor. I was involved in new theatre all the time because I worked in theatre on the round in Stoke on Trent, and the Oxygen, Bolton, Scarabough and [didn't get it]. So we were always dealing with new material and that was a whole raison d'être of this particular theatre. We used to have in-house writers writing for us because it was a company.
"So, yes, these days less and less. It's more difficult to find new plays and I have tended to get more involved with it and I always say there is a risk involved in a new play. And as you get older you are less inclined to step out without a nest. At least if it's a play that has been already performed you know that it works. If you are doing a play that hasn't never been performed then you got an "edit" [didn't get it] thing to take on board that it must not work... and you reach a point where... well, I like the odds on my favor.
The interviewer : You say there's a risk but the other thing that appeals for an actor for new works is that you are putting your print in a character
Robert : "Absolutely! That is a massive advantage for an actor, to create something that nobody else has never done. It's been years since I did anything on stage that is brand new theatre. I've been doing things like Single Spies by Alan Bennet, Dorian Gray... So I've been doing stuff that has been done before. So, yes, I hadn't thought about it.. I should do...
The interviewer : In the next year festival maybe you could do...
Robert : "No. Well, the thing is that wanting to create something for 24:7 is that it allows actors who may not otherwise get a chance to showcase. They have the talent to do so and therefore I think it would be selfish of me to nick a part of somebody [not sure]. I don't think it would be very fair.
The interviewer : You are back home in Manchester, you are a Mancester-born. Do you enjoy coming back to the city?
Robert: Yes, I love it. I love it. Salford-born! But even me I have to confess that when I'm more than 200 miles away I tell people that I come from Manchester and then I say Salford. [didn't get it] Yes, I love coming back. I have no family here, so I invent reasons for coming back."
I loved how he ended the interview!
For more information about the 24:7 Festival check this link http://www.247theatrefestival.co.uk/index.html