The Habit of Art

Matthew Kelly and David Yelland star in first revival of Alan Bennett’s ‘The Habit Of Art'

The Original Theatre Company, York Theatre Royal, and Ghost Light Productions are delighted to announce the full cast for the first ever revival of Alan Bennett’s ‘The Habit Of Art ‘directed by Philip Franks and starring Matthew Kelly as Fitz (W. H. Auden) and David Yelland as Henry (Benjamin Britten).

Joining Kelly and Yelland on stage will be; Veronica Roberts in the role of Kay, the Stage Manager. Robert Mountford plays the Author, Neil. John Wark will play Donald (Humphrey Carpenter). Alexandra Guelff plays the role of George, the Assistant Stage Manager. Benjamin Chandler has been cast as Tim (Stuart).

‘The Habit Of Art’ explores friendship, rivalry and heartache, the joy, pain and emotional cost of creativity. It is centered on a fictional meeting between poet W. H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten. Bennett wrote it as a play-within-a-play – actors Fitz, Henry, Tim and Donald are rehearsing a play called ‘Caliban’s Day’ under the direction of stage manager, Kay, and in the presence of the playwright, Neil. In ‘Caliban’s Day,’ a fictitious meeting occurs in 1973 in Auden’s (Fitz) rooms at Oxford not long before he dies. Britten (Henry) has been auditioning boys nearby for his opera ‘Death in Venice,’ and arrives unexpectedly – their first meeting in 25 years after falling out over the failure of their opera Paul Bunyan.

Matthew Kelly’s West End credits include ‘Waiting For Godot’ with Ian McKellan and Roger Rees, Tim Firth’s play ‘Sign of the Times,’ the musical ‘Lend Me A Tenor!‘ and Lennie in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s production of ‘Of Mice and Men’ at the Savoy Theatre, for which he won the Olivier Award for Best Actor. Other recent theatre includes ‘Pride & Prejudice’ (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre & UK Tour), ‘The Jew Of Malta,’ ‘Volpone’ and ‘Love’s Sacrifice’ for the RSC, and ‘Toast’ (Park Theatre & 59E59 in New York). Matthew’s television work includes the award-winning thriller ‘Cold Blood,’ ‘Benidorm’ and ‘Bleak House,’ though he is probably best known for presenting ‘You Bet!‘ and ‘Stars in their Eyes.’

David Yelland’s most recent theatre credits include ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ (London County Hall), ‘A Winter’s Tale’ (Shakespeare’s Globe), ‘Taken at Midnight’ (Chichester Festival Theatre and Theatre Royal Haymarket). West End credits include ‘Deathtrap’ (Garrick), ‘The Deep Blue Sea’ (Haymarket), ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ (Strand), ‘Richard III‘ (Savoy – for which he won the Clarence Derwent Award), ‘Life x3’ (Savoy) and Man and Boy (Duchess). His television credits include the title role in ‘David Copperfield,’ Nick Rumpole in ‘Rumpole of the Bailey,’ George in ‘Agatha Christie’s Poirot,’ ‘EastEnders,’ ‘The Crown’ and ‘Endeavour.‘ Film credits include ‘Coriolanus’ (directed by Ralph Fiennes), Field Marshal Haig in Michael Morpurgo’s ‘Private Peaceful’ and The Prince of Wales in ‘Chariots of Fire.’

Alan Bennett’s ‘The Habit Of Art’ premiered at the National Theatre in November 2009, directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Richard Griffiths, Alex Jennings and Frances de la Tour. The National then toured the production in Autumn 2010 with a new cast led by Desmond Barrit, Malcolm Sinclair and Selina Cadell.

The 2018 tour of ‘The Habit Of Art’ will be directed by Philip Franks, designed by Adrian Linford, with lighting by Johanna Town, and sound design by Max Pappenheim