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INTERVIEW: JASPER REES TALKS ABOUT I FOUND MY HORN


 

Fifteen years after its first production, and following a recent sell-out run at the White Bear in Kennington, I Found My Horn - starring Jonathan Guy Lewis transfers to Riverside Studios this summer, playing in Studio 3 at the Hammersmith venue from 30 May – 11 June!


Written by Jonathan Guy Lewis and Jasper Rees, adapted from Rees’s best-selling book, and directed by Harry Burton, I Found My Horn was first performed in 2008 at the Aldeburgh Fringe Festival.


Subsequently seen in the West End, Chichester and Hampstead, as well as at one-off performances in New York, Los Angeles and at Laguna Beach Playhouse, this joyous, feel-good show places the transforming power of music centre-stage.


A man wakes up in midlife to a broken marriage and the dawning fear that he has done nothing to make himself memorable.


Packing away his life as he prepares for divorce, he is struck by an insane idea: why not pick up the French horn that defeated him in his youth?

 

I got to speak to Jasper Rees one of the shows writers to find out more about the show to & find out more about the revival and to find out what it was like adapting it from page to stage.

 

What is I Found my Horn about?


I Found My Horn is about a man called Jasper who in middle age, with his marriage recently ended, decides to take up the musical instrument he learnt as a schoolboy. In doing so, he sets himself a crazy challenge: to perform a solo in front of 500 real French horn players.


How well do you think the show translates from book to stage and also how easy was it to adapt?


We think it translates very well. The book by Jasper Rees is the true story of his journey on the French horn. There’s much more in the book that could not be used in the play, but it is a theatrical story – after all, it ends with a performance of a Mozart horn concerto – and we have found ways to make the story more dramatic.


We introduced a fictional teenage son who accuses Jasper of being a terrible parent. Also, Jasper’s horn starts talking back to him. But what’s really theatrical is the way Jonathan Guy Lewis plays all the characters in the story, and very cleverly shifts between them just by changing the look on his face, or changing his voice.


 

credit: Max Hamilton-Mackenzie

Has anything changed from the last time the show was staged?

 

We did it at the White Bear in Kennington earlier this year. Nothing has changed since then, beyond the usual challenge of fitting the play into a new playing space. But this is a revival. The last time we did the play was in 2014. The main change is that Jonathan looks a bit older than he did back then. There are bigger changes from the first version of the play in 2008, which opened with jonathan spotlit on stage wearing only his underpants clutching the horn over his midriff. He’s in the grip of a perfomance anxiety nightmare. We decided to take the opening in a different direction when we rewrote it.

 

What were the reactions to the show the last time it was performed? And do you think they will be the same?

The reactions have always been consistently the same, and it’s not changed at the Riverside when the show opened this week. Audiences – regular theatre-goers and reviewers – find it funny and moving and heartwarming, and are really rooting for Jonathan as Jasper when he has to stand up at the end of the play and perform a horn concerto.


 

credit: I Found My Horn (unknown credit)

Was there any challenges in bringing the show back to the stage?

 

The challenge is always to try and fit the show into the space. We have a wonderful set, that looks like an attic filled with clutter, and it needed to be adjusted by the designer to make it fit. The other challenge never changes: to get news of the show out into the world, which usually happens by word of mouth plus inviting everyone we know to come and see it. Theatre is tricky when you don’t have a big marketing budget, even when the play itself is more or less universally loved.


Can you describe the show's themes and message and how important they are for today's world?

 

I Found My Horn is about finding joy in creative self-expression. It’s a redemption story: a man who’s down in the dumps finds a way of healing his wounds and putting the pieces of his life back together by going on a risky journey which ultimately brings him peace and fulfilment – and reconciliation with his son.


 

credit: Alex Marker

What are 3 major takeaways you want the audience to learn after seeing the show?

 

Take risks! Understand that it’s never too late to go on an adventure! The best things in life take effort and work.


Who is the target audience?

 

Anyone who likes a good story, and music, and great acting.


 

credit: Alex Marker


What is your favorite thing about the show and why?  

 

The fact that the audience connect with the story every time. It’s also been fantastic to collaborate with the director Harry Burton and the actor-co-writer Jonathan Guy Lewis. It has been a very happy union over many years.


Describe the show in one sentence


A funny, uplifting, moving story about a man confronting his demons through music.


Jasper Rees said, “I could not be more thrilled that the stage version of I Found My Horn is being revived. The three of us who made this play – Jonathan as actor-writer, Harry as director, and me – are all longer in the tooth than when we started out together. So, for us the theme of seizing the day as the sands of time run low now resonates on a deeper level. We hope it hits the sweet spot with audiences at the Riverside.”


I found my horn plays at the Riverside studios playing in Studio 3 at the Hammersmith venue until Saturday 11th June!



credit: Harry Burton

 

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