Samling Shorts with James Garnon

James Garnon trained at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Edinburgh University. He has performed in over twenty productions at Shakespeare’s Globe, most recently as Touchstone in As You Like It and in the title role in Pericles in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. He has also frequently acted for the Royal Shakespeare Company, was a founder member of The Factory Theatre Company and has performed at numerous other theatres including the Old Vic and Almeida Theatre and on film and TV. He has worked with Samling Institute as a leader on both the Samling Artist Programme and for Samling Academy.

My first memory of the theatre was …

One of jealousy. I didn’t know what a play was but immediately knew I wanted to be in one rather than watch one… Nothing’s changed.

If I could go for a drink with any Shakespearean character, it would be …

Mercutio or Celia? Both are witty, wise, relatively without vice and, unlike most of the others, as interested listeners as they are talkers.

One poem I think everyone in the world should read is …

Right now – “Say not the struggle naught availeth” by Arthur Hugh Clough -Stephen Pinker’s ‘Enlightenment Now’ in sixteen lines.

My favourite way to pass the time on train journeys is …

To watch people (and photograph them and attach a poem to the picture that it inspires and then post it all on Instagram – but this is a secret).

The last piece of music I listened to was …

The Fitzwilliam String Quartet 1981 Shostakovich recordings are on the record player now. We recently inherited my father-in-law’s entire vinyl collection which we lucky-dip but, I’ll admit, Shostakovich has been there a while… He makes me laugh as much as he moves me.

My best Samling memory is …

As impossible to choose as picking out a favourite sultana in a cake you relish. Every time I visit there are things I see and hear I want to hold on to.

I enjoy working with singers because …

I respect them so utterly. Helping brave, dedicated, rarefied artists is simply a privilege.

The most exciting thing about working with young people is …

Watching their willingness to do things they haven’t mastered – their courage, their trust, their readiness to ‘try’ inspires and sends you back to your own work reinvigorated to dare…

This interview is part of Samling Institute Newsletter 55: read the full newsletter here