The Art of Ageing: Matthew Kelly & David Yelland star in The Habit of Art
After scooping up a series of glowing reviews across the country, Original Theatre Company bring their new production of Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art to the Belgrade Theatre this November.
Framed around an imagined meeting between the poet WH Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten, this witty and moving play explores themes of friendship, rivalry, love, sex and the emotional cost of creativity through the eyes of two ageing artists.
“It’s a play about old friends who have fallen out and how their work affects their lives,” explains director Philip Franks. “It’s about whether [their friendship] can be rekindled, what work means to them and what their flaws or peculiarities of their private lives mean in relation to their work.”
“It’s about the creative process, about friendship – wonderful Bennett themes really,” adds co-star David Yelland. “One of the things I love about his plays is not only that they are blissfully funny but they are written by a man who, I feel, cares […] he has a lot of humanity.”
The play’s title refers partly to the idea that creativity is something that becomes a habit for artists – something they’re compelled to do, rather than a conscious choice. It’s a theme that clearly resonates both with Alan Bennett himself as well as with co-star Matthew Kelly, whose “enormous warmth and accessibility” made him a perfect fit for the role of Auden, according to Franks.
“He has a razor sharp wit and we have a very similar outlook about work and the habit of art,” says Kelly. “I’m the same. I have to keep working – I’m nearly 70 now – not because I need the money but because […] otherwise, you fall off the perch.”