Go West - Dominic West

YORKSHIRE actor Dominic West returned to his home city of Sheffield to treat his fans to an exclusive charity performance.

The Hollywood star, who is best known for his starring role as Detective Jimmy McNulty in TV drama series The Wire, teamed up with renowned international solo pianist Lucy Parham, to perform an intimate performance of Reverie—the words and music of Claude Debussy.

The event was in aid of local charity Helen’s Trust, which aims to enable those with an incurable illness to have the choice to stay in their own home rather than be in hospital.

Dominic became a patron for Helen’s Trust after the charity helped his mother to achieve her wish of being able to die at home.

The show, performed at The Upper Chappel in Sheffield also celebrated the 150th anniversary of Debussy.

Dominic speaks to JESSICA FOGARTY to tell us more about being a patron of  Helen’s Trust charity and what it was like to play the part of Debussy...

Jessica: Why did you decide to get involves in the Reverie performance? Are you a fan of Claude Debussy?

Dominic: I like to try new things, I’ve done TV, film, theatre and even poem readings but I'd never been involved in a recycle with a musician—I’d say this was the attraction, more so than a love for the work of Debussy. Perhaps I was picked for the role because I look like Debussy? I’m hoping it was not for his personality, as despite his talents as a composer, Debussy was not pasrticulaly a nice man—his private life was scandalous.

Jessica: Have you always had an interest in music and theatre?

Dominic: I went to a school which specialised in acting and music, but I wanted to become an actor so that was my only focus. I have always appreciated and admired musicians, so I jumped at the opportunity to get involved in an event that incorporated the two.

Jessica: Did you enjoy the performance or did it take you out of your comfort zone?

Dominic: Because it was a brand new experience for me, I was nervous as hell, but if I'm completely honest the majority of the audience were my friends and family, and it was a charity event so I knew people wouldn’t complain even if I did rubbish. No, I joke, I took it seriously and hopefully the audience enjoyed the evening, it’s always nice to see people’s reactions when I try something new, it’s exciting. Acting can be hard work and long hours, but the talent of an actor is very much different from the talent of a musician. Me being the typical actor suggested to Lucy a few weeks before the performance night that we stick another piece of music in there, not realising that it takes Lucy, who is at the top of her game, six to ten weeks to learn one song—with a minimum of six hours practice per day.

It was also a challenge to compile the script as Lucy is a musician not a writer. The life of Claude Debussy is emotional and even in the darkest parts, we needed to find humour, to keep the audience entertained rather than depressing them. It was hard work finding the right words to match Lucy’s performance, very different from my usual acting roles.

Jessica: How often do you come home to South Yorkshire?

Dominic: I was in Sheffield last autumn when I was in Athello at The Crucible, so it was nice to have the opportunity to come back again so soon in 2012.

I grew up here with my six brothers and sisters, so any excuse to get up here I take. Having the opportunity to perform back at home in Sheffield is always a buzz for me.

Jessica: You have become a patron for South Yorkshire charity Helen’s Trust. What does your role involve?

Dominic: The Debussy performance was my first event for Helen’s Trust, but I am hoping to continue working with them as regular as I can, another excuse to be back in Sheffield too. My role is to help raise awareness for the charity and to generate publicity—we want people to know who they are and what they do.

The charity was involved with mum when she died, they really helped us a lot through when she was dying. A lot of people die in hospital, alone, and it’s not how they want to spend their final days.

I think it is a human right to be able to die the way you want to, and my mum wanted to die at home with her family so Helen’s Trust helped us to make that happen.

Visit www.helenstrust.org.uk to find out how you can get involved.

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