So last winter, we were in late rehearsals for our production of Shakespeare's Macbeth. It was a "make or break" show for the company after some difficult months.and it was about ten days before the show, when the lead actor found he was unable to continue with the production.
Recasting Macbeth with 10 days before opening night required a miracle. Either an actor who had already played Macbeth, or an actor with an exceptional learning ability who would be able to learn it in time. We usually only cast locally in south Devon, UK, but we had only one place that we could find an actor who could pull this miracle off. French-Italian actor, living in the republic of Ireland, Christophe Lombardi, whom our company director, Laura, knew of, due to being friends with Christophe's wife.
That same evening, an urgent message was sent to Christophe and his wife; and to everyone's extreme relief, he agreed to take on the role.
For the next week, Christophe was learning the role online, and with video conversations, as travel to England was arranged. Christophe was now learning the uncut text, in a "Second language", in ten days.
He arrived at the theatre for dress rehearsal - and had it down perfectly. Singlehanded, he saved the production from needing to be cancelled- and the probable ensuing closure of the theatre company.
The productions of Macbeth continued through 2019, with two tours, ensuring the survival of The South Devon Players, and winning a theatre award in New York, as well as incredible audience feedback.
Following this, Christophe again took a lead role with us, playing local Victorian Brixham trawlerman Bob Sheppeard in our historical production The Great Gale of Brixham 1866, utilizing his unique skills to help bring local Devon history to life.
Working with this highly talented European actor, and maintaining cross border working relationships has, with no exaggeration, saved this small British theatre company, allowing people from across the Southwest of England, access professional acting opportunities, in an area where such chances are hard to find. Without this working link having saved us, it is highly unlikely that we would still be able to exist.
We remain always, immeasurably grateful to Christophe, and hope that as the political climate settles down, we will all be able to work together again.
Find out more about this amazing actor on his website: www.christophelombardi.com