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Nick Hayes talks about his love of acting and forthcoming role in Remembrance Monday.

Remembrance Monday is a gay play in London.

Remembrance Monday will run its exclusive World Premiere at Seven Dials Playhouse from 23 April to 1 June 2024. Presented by M. Green Productions (Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, Foxes, Death Drop), Remembrance Monday is written by Michael Batten (Self Tape) and directed by Alan Souza (Beauty and the Beast, Oliver!). The show stars Nick Hayes and Matthew Stathers in a twisting story of love and loss. Nick talked to QX about his career in Television and Theatre and his role as Julias in Remembrance Monday, in what he promises to be “a wild thrill ride” of a production. 

Nick, thank you for taking time from your busy rehearsals. Please tell us something about your stage and screen career to date. Where might our readers have seen you perform?

Thanks for having me! I’ve been very lucky over the past twenty years, having had the opportunity to explore many different areas of the industry. I would say the main bulk of my work has been in West End theatre; that seems to be something I always come back to, but I’ve really enjoyed touring both in the U.K. and internationally over the years and most recently as Felicia/Adam in ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert ‘(U.K. tour).

It’s been interesting working on stage and screen simultaneously and being able to directly compare how similar and different both disciplines are. It has always been a goal of mine to be as well-rounded and versatile an actor as I can be – I want to be able to do it all. 

Touring on stage must be exhausting, and you must be very dedicated. Have you always wanted this kind of life?

Touring IS exhausting; eight shows a week is no joke! Any performer working an eight-show week, whether on tour or in town, has to develop both the physical endurance and mental stamina of an athlete. That mindset requires a strong routine, which can be difficult on tour when moving from city to city; it demands a level of self-discipline to stay on track over a long contract and to be able to deliver a consistent eight-show week performance vocally, physically and emotionally. It requires a strong sense of craft and training.

I’m drawn to situations and experiences that push me out of my comfort zone and make me grow as a person, so this industry, however difficult, allows me that growth. I will never take for granted the opportunity to work as an actor. 

You’re about to play Julius in the World Premiere of Remembrance Monday by Michael Batten for a six week run. The title is intriguing, but the press release gives little away. Can you also tell us about your character and reveal something about this psychological thriller? Are we in for a real thrill?

I play Julius, a complicated character and a man on a quest. The whole play takes place in his bathroom, and we jump through time as we learn more about what is happening to him and his partner, Connor.

Over the past few weeks, I have been absorbing the script and finding my version of who Julius is. There are certainly layers to the play, and I’m still discovering hidden surprises in Michael Batten’s writing. To me, it is a play about identity, how we build our sense of self through our relationships with others, and what happens when that sense of self starts to fall apart piece by piece.

The play is definitely a wild thrill ride – our director, Alan Souza, is injecting the whole piece with this sense of urgency and tension that ratchets up as the play pushes on. It is dark and sexy in places, but at its heart, it is a love story.

Julius and Connor are fighting hard for each other and each other’s survival. The stakes couldn’t be higher for these two characters, so I’m happy Matthew Stathers is playing Connor. He is kind, supportive, and a fantastic actor, so I know I will feel safe going on the ride with him every night. 

Remembrance Monday is a gay play at Seven Dials Playhouse in London.
Remembrance Monday (Photo Danny Kaan. Image supplied).

How easy is it to be intimate on stage and do you find it easier to play a gay character?

Being intimate onstage or on screen is always slightly awkward at first until you get comfortable with the actor, which doesn’t always happen. But we often now have an intimacy coordinator which is a huge help and resource, to be able to express boundaries and work an intimate scene in a safe and productive environment. We are working with choreographer Dianté Lodge on this play, so a lot of the intimacy will be choreographed and worked through in detail. 

Writer Michael Batten writer of the play called Remembrance Monday at The Seven Dials Playhouse with Nick Hayes playing Julius and Matthew Stathers plays Connor.
Nick Hayes (Julius) and Matthew Stathers (Connor) in Remembrance Monday.

Representation matters, and it is important stories are told as truthfully as possible. But in terms of playing gay or straight, I have played both and don’t feel a huge difference; we all know how it feels to love and want someone, so playing that is an easy access regardless of the other character’s gender. I will say it is interesting to explore themes that are close to me personally.

We’ve seen you on TV screens, on stage, in musicals, and in short films. Do you have a preference, or is the world a stage for you? 

I’m loving working on screen at the moment, I cut my teeth on camera years ago on ‘Hollyoaks: In the City’ and have recently found my feet again in screen acting and it’s magic to me. There is a camaraderie that comes with being in such close proximity to your crew on a set that I’ve loved … that and the catering! But I do find that when I’m working on one, I miss the other.

Since last year, I have worked on a musical (Groundhog Day at the Old Vic), a film and this current two-hand play, but with all of them, it’s the story, script and team that drew me in rather than the medium in which it’s told. 

What other exciting projects do you have in the pipeline?

I’ve just wrapped playing the lead on a brilliant short film by writer/director Sam Peter Jackson , it’s a sci-fi rom-com called ‘The Space You Need’ and was one of the most joyous jobs I’ve worked on in twenty years. I think it’s going to be something very special. It will do the film festival rounds and have a release at some poin,t so watch out for it! 

Tickets to Remembrance Monday are available here: https://www.sevendialsplayhouse.co.uk/shows/remembrance-monday

Remembrance Monday runs from 23 April to 1 June 2024 at Seven Dial Playhouse, 1A Tower St, London WC2H 9NP, United Kingdom.

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