TBB Talks to Clifford Samuel Currently Starring in ‘Events’ @ The Young Vic

The British Blacklist caught up quickly with actor Clifford Samuel who is currently starring in a new play called The Events

Tell us more about The Events?

The Events is a drama about Claire, a priest who survives an atrocity. She sets out on a quest to answer the most difficult question of all, Why?. It’s a journey that takes her to the edge of reason, science, politics, and faith. Writer, David Greig explores our destructive desire to fathom the unfathomable and asks how far forgiveness can stretch in the face of brutality.

… and about your character?

My character is called The Boy. The Boy represents the reality in the play and I also play about eleven characters representing the different facets of Claire’s mind flitting in and out of her reality and fantasy.

The Events enjoyed a successful run in America and is returning to the Young Vic this year only to return stateside in 2015, what is it about this play that the audience appears to be connecting with?

Audiences connect with the idea of forgiveness, revenge, and emotions of grieving which are beautifully portrayed in the play. There are many moving and controversial scenes which provoke spectators to think about other social and political issues, such as the relation between the science of psychology and subjective experiences, racism and right-wing, or failed parenthood.

What made you say yes to this role?

The writing. It always comes down to the text for me. David Greig wrote this fantastic and innovative play, which I recognised as challenging for me as an actor as well as the audiences. It is both demanding and exciting for me as it requires the actor to play many different characters whilst never finding closure. It is a beautiful piece which also allowed me to grow as an actor. I am very happy to be a part of the show which has this huge potential to stimulate debates and maybe even help people to deal with traumatic events they’ve experienced.

Clifford Samuel and Derbhle Crotty in The Events. Photo by David Levine

The story revolves around the aftermath of a horrific mass shooting which is quite topical… how important is it to you that the theatre tackles social and political events?

Personal experiences are never detached from the political and the social and this play shows it explicitly. It is one of the most important things about this piece. It is about the process of grieving which is absent from media discourses. While a lot of attention is given to victims who survive mass shootings at the time when the tragedy is happening, the world tends to forget about them very quickly. It is great if the theatre can offer a space for tackling issues for which there is no room in everyday news but which affect lives of people around us. Not forgetting that it is also entertaining.

Please tell us a bit about your acting journey?

I graduated early from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Then went to work for Cheek by Jowl theatre company with the brilliant director, Declan Donnellan. Not only doing a brilliant play with them it also gave me a chance to travel the world. Since then I have gone on to work at the National theatre, directors Peter Brook and Deborah Warner and brilliant writers such as Kwame Kwei-Armah and Suzi Lori-Parks. To date, I have also played one of the lead roles at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.  I have worked on some BBC comedy series too. I had an amazing experience in the BAFTA nominated film, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.

Who or what were your biggest influences during the pursuit of an acting career?

I have and continue to be influenced by creatives such as Spike Lee, Christopher Nolan, Steve McQueen, Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o, Viola Davis Mat Whitecross, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro and many more…

What’s next for you?

Well, we’re going back to the states with the show again, and a film I am in will be released later in the year called The Lock-in.

Catch ‘The Events’ currently showing at the Young Vic until the 2nd August 2014.  For more information/book tickets: http://www.youngvic.org/whats-on/the-events


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