Interview: Actor Reece Dinsdale on predicament facing the arts and Harrogate Theatre

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
One of England's finest actors has talked to the Harrogate Advertiser about why it means so much to him to perform his new socially-distanced show at Harrogate Theatre and how Covid is putting the arts in a terrible predicament.

Yorkshire-born Reece Dinsdale said there was a special atmosphere in the town’s arts hub and paid tribute to the people who worked there.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Emmerdale star said: “Every time I’ve walked into the building I’m always so impressed.

Actor/director Reece Dinsdale whose rich and broad CV ranges from the RSC to Coronation Street, Richard III to Home To Roost, A Private Function to Life on Mars, Minder to Waterloo Road - and a lot more.Actor/director Reece Dinsdale whose rich and broad CV ranges from the RSC to Coronation Street, Richard III to Home To Roost, A Private Function to Life on Mars, Minder to Waterloo Road - and a lot more.
Actor/director Reece Dinsdale whose rich and broad CV ranges from the RSC to Coronation Street, Richard III to Home To Roost, A Private Function to Life on Mars, Minder to Waterloo Road - and a lot more.

“There’s such good people at the helm and working in every department. You can feel it in the air.

“And the main auditorium itself is stunning.

“As long as it is practical, I felt it was important to do something during these times that have been so tough for the arts and theatres like Harrogate’s.”

A one-man show in essence full of stories and anecdotes from Reece’s illustrious career, Reece Dinsdale - Reece’s Pieces is more than an entertaining night out for audiences, albeit with a reduced capacity.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s Reece flying the flag in his way for the world he has made his own since he first studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1977, a world under threat since since the pandemic broke earlier in the year.

Reece, 61, said: “Harrogate Theatre has had it tough since it closed in March but no doubt other theatres are having it even tougher.

“I totally understand the predicament 99% of actors find themselves in.

“No one knows what the future holds for thousands of actors.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"People sometimes ask "why not just put on a small play" but who is going to take the risk of paying three or four actors for four weeks of rehearsal only to find - bang - the rules of lockdown have changed again and the show can't go on?

"Theatres and venues in general can't take that sort of financial gamble.

“It’s a terrible, terrible situation. It’s scary for the future of the whole business.”

The show was mean to take place on November 28 - before, that is, the arrival of the new national lockdown which Reece says he knew instantly "was going to bite us."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It felt inevitable but the theatre asked me if I would do an alternative date and I said "absolutely"."

Equally at home in TV soaps such as Emmerdale or Coronation Street as winning a Yorkshire Award for his contribution to Arts and Entertainment after playing Alan Bennett in Untold Stories on stage, Reece’s career reads like a history of British TV, film and theatre over the last 40 years.

Nevertheless, no one should assume that means Reece’s Pieces does not represent a new challenge for a man whose rich and broad CV ranges from the RSC to Coronation Street, Richard III to Home To Roost, A Private Function to Life on Mars, Minder to Waterloo Road, not forgetting his recent move into directing or working with David Hare and Jimmy McGovern.

But Reece's Pieces, now rearranged for January 30, might never have happened without two recent two traumatic events - his father’s death and the arrival of Covid-19.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Reece said: "My dad died which was a huge even in my life. He was a great man.

"Then lockdown happened.

"I'm very comfortable as an actor but I've never had great faith in myself as a person.

"I thought not was the time to stand up as myself, to see where I've been and what's made me, as well as tell stories from my career and the people I've met along the way.

"I feel like I've found my voice."

When - Covid allowing - he stands up on stage at Harrogate Theatre on January 30 for an entertaining evening chaired by fellow Emmerdale actor Mark Charnock, it won't be the first time he's performed Reece's Pieces, strictly-speaking.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Reece said: "I started it online as something to do during lockdown.

"I just went on Periscope and streamed myself talking. It ended up being watched by 30,000 people.

"Then I got the chance to do a test run in September in front of a socially-distanced crowd at Leeds Playhouse, where I've been Associate Artist since 2015.

"An old friend there suggested I do it on stage; he said it was a ready-made show for this Covid era.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It went really well, everyone seemed to enjoy it. We were only allowed to have 100 people there but they hung around afterwards to chat - from a distance."

Reece has enjoyed a better lockdown than many others in his profession.

As luck would have it, his current high-profile role of Vinny Dingle’s biological father Paul Ashdale in hit soap Emmerdale fell into his lap just as Boris Johnson announced the first full lockdown in late March.

Reece said: "I've been fortunate to be working during this time but my heart completely bleeds for most of my colleagues who haven't been able to work.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I got my feet under the table at Emmerdale just before lockdown.

"I'd directed a few shows for them and they called me in for a chat, which was a bit worrying.

"When I saw they were directing me to the sofa rather than a hard chair, I relaxed.

"The offer came completely out of left field but I love working on it. It's such a pleasure to be part of the cast."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A great supporter of the arts in general, as well as his Associate Artist role at Leeds Playhouse (since 2015); the first actor to be given this accolade, Reece is also a patron of the Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax (since 2017) and a patron of Harrogate Theatre, too (since 2018).

Although Reece has lived in the Harrogate district for nearly 20 years, he's only lived in Harrogate itself for seven years.

His closeness to Harrogate Theatre is part of his love for the town and he hopes to build on that in the future in a post-Covid world.

Reece said: "I look on Harrogate as my home town now. I love living here.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Doing Reece's Pieces is a lovely opportunity to get to know its brilliant theatre even better.

"I'm hoping it's the beginning of a relationship which will carry on for many, many years."

Reece Dinsdale - Reece's Pieces

Harrogate Theatre, 7.30pm, 30th January 2021

Hosted by Mark Charnock (Emmerdale) this will be a joyful evening full of stories and anecdotes from Reece's illustrious career. Opening the show with a few piano numbers will be Reece's onscreen son Bradley Johnson (Vinny - Emmerdale).

Please note, this event has now sold out.

How to support Harrogate Theatre

Donate to the Emergency Appeal via;

Join Harrogate Theatre’s membership scheme;

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Buy tickets for future shows - or don’t claim a refund on tickets for cancelled shows.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.