One of the great things about Makeshift is that we consistently get to work with a wonderful group of vibrant and exciting actors each of whom has a passion for entertaining audiences young and old alike. We consider ourselves a family, and while we have many actors that come and go throughout our seasons, we do have close friends that return season after season to entertain and inspire young audiences. As part of our Anniversary season, many faces of Makeshift old and new are happy to offer their own personal thoughts and memories about their experiences in theatre. For the Previous Update, click Here!
Today I'm sitting down with James Aitchison, a newcomer not only to the Makeshift family, but also to the United States. Originally from South Africa, James joined the cast of Emperor's New Clothes to play the swindler, Johnny. I took a moment to sit down with him to talk abit about his childhood and his experiences with Emperor's New Clothes.
So, you're originally from South Africa.
I am, which is why I talk funny. I grew up in a city called Pietermaritzburg and my holidays growing up were spent hiking through the Drankensburg. My father was an anti-Apartheid political activist and was placed under a form of house arrest by the Apartheid government for 10 years. It made for a strange upbringing!
Were you active in theatre out there?
I was. I played lead and supporting roles in a number of South African productions including Cabaret, Geography of a Horse Dreamer and the Glass Menagerie. I also helped to develop a number of educational theatre productions aimed at addressing the spread of HIV/Aids among under-aged youth of South Africa.
So, tell me a bit about New Clothes. What do you like about your character?
I love Johnny’s confidence, I am fairly shy and withdrawn myself so it’s always fun to play characters who don’t care what people think of them.
What is it like working with the director?
I have really enjoyed working with Caitlin, she has energy and enthusiasm to put the rest of us to shame and although she has a clear vision for the show she has always encouraged us (the actors) to be integral to the creative process.
How do you memorize all those lines?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves! In all seriousness though, I don’t have any special tricks or techniques that I use to memorize lines, beyond good old fashioned repetition. As with anything the more you practice something the better you get. Other than that though I find it sometimes helps during memorization to pair specific lines to actions or blocking.
Makeshfit shows have a very high energy level. how do you keep your energy levels up?
Caffine, caffine….oh and caffine. More than anything though being passionate about what I do gives me all the energy I need.
Since you've come to the US, you've been fortunate enough to be involved with a wide range of projects, including the critically acclaimed and deeply moving Boston Actors Theater production of Where Moments Hung Before. What's next for you?
Zombies. Lots of Zombies.
Before we go, is there anything else you'd like us to know?
I have never ridden an Elephant.